Real Work, Real Life

Early Childhood Educator, Childcare Owner and Operator

September 13, 2023 Emily Sampson Episode 29
Real Work, Real Life
Early Childhood Educator, Childcare Owner and Operator
Show Notes Transcript

On this week's episode of Real Work, Real Life, I'm talking with Stacie, an owner and operator of an accredited, licensed family childcare out of her home. You know this if you’re a working parent of small children, but childcare workers are in incredible demand right now, so if it’s a field that you’re passionate about, you will likely have your pick of jobs and options, and access to low cost or free education in the field. It’s also an opportunity to have a meaningful, impactful role in a child’s life, and as we talk about in the episode, for their whole family.

Part of why it’s so in demand are the many challenges in the field. Relatively low pay, often no benefits, and a high degree of burnout, especially after the pandemic that put so many childcare workers in impossible situations daily. We get into this a bit in the episode, but childcare is at a breaking point in the US right now. 

Slightly more than half the country lives in a “child-care desert,” which a report from the Century Foundation Think Tank defines as “an area where there are more than three children under age 5 for each licensed child-care slot.” Quoted from an article in the Atlantic this summer by Elliot Haspell “At its core is a financial paradox. Child-care providers have very high fixed costs due to the need for low child-to-adult ratios, so they can’t pay their staff well without significantly increasing parent fees (many child-care workers make less than parking attendants). In other words, child care simultaneously is too expensive for parents and brings in too little revenue for programs to operate sustainably. In fact, the industry is still down more than 50,000 employees from pre-pandemic levels. Centers have shut down for want of staff, long waitlists have stretched to the point of absurdity, and the rising cost of care continues to exceed inflation.”

Those depressing statistics aside, Stacie’s thoughtful approach to childcare is beautiful hear, and while I think this episode would be great for anyone interested in working in this field, I think working parents everywhere will come away with a new appreciation for the value people like Stacie bring to our families. So let’s get into it!

Sources: 

“A Tragically American Approach to the Child-Care Crisis” by Elliot Haspell in the Atlantic Magazine,found here: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2023/06/child-care-united-states-employer-based/674269/

Century Foundation Report, “Child Care Cliff: 3.2 Million Children Likely to Lose Spots with End of Federal Funds”: https://tcf.org/content/report/child-care-cliff/ 

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Stacie Early Childhood Educator

[00:00:00] Welcome to real work, real life, where I talk to real people about what they do for work and what that means for their lives. Today, I'm talking with Stacie, an owner and operator of an accredited, licensed family childcare out of her home. You know, this, if you're a working parent of small children, but childcare workers are in incredible demand right now. So if it's a field that you're passionate about, you will likely have your pick of jobs and options and access to low cost or free education in the field. It's also of course, an opportunity to have a meaningful, impactful role in a child's life. And as we talked about in the episode, in the life of the whole family, That's it, of course, part of why it's. So in demand are the many challenges in the field relatively low pay often, no to relatively low benefit and a high degree of burnout, especially after the pandemic that puts so many childcare workers in impossible situations daily. We get into this a bit in the episode, but childcare is at a breaking [00:01:00] point in the U S right now. Slightly more than half of the country lives in a childcare desert. Which our report from the century foundation think tank defined as an area where there are more than three children under the age of five for each licensed childcare slot. Quoted from an article in the Atlantic this summer by Elliot Haspell. "At its core is a financial paradox. Childcare providers have very high fixed costs due to the need for low child to adult ratios. So they can't pay their staff. Well, without significantly increasing parent fees. In other words, childcare simultaneously is too expensive for parents and brings in too little revenue for programs to operate to sustainably. In fact, the industry is still down more than 50,000 employees from pre pandemic levels. Centers have shut down for want of staff long waitlist have stretched to the point of absurdity and the rising cost of care continues to exceed inflation." Those depressing [00:02:00] statistics aside, which will be linked in the show notes. If you'd like to read more. Stacie thoughtful approach to childcare is beautiful to hear and well, I think this episode would be great for anyone interested in working in this field. I think working parents everywhere will come away with a new appreciation for the value people like Stacie bring to our families. So let's get into it.

Emily: Thank you so much for being here, Stacie.

Stacie: thank you so much for having me.

Emily: what do you do for work?

Stacie: I'm an accredited licensed family childcare and I operate a small early education and nature-based program from home.

Emily: So cool. So what age of children do you care for and how many.

Stacie: Yeah, so my state licensing for family childcare is 12 children, so that's the maximum state license. And the age range that we primarily serve is 18 months to age four.

Emily: Can you talk about a little bit about the difference between accredited and licensed?

Stacie: Sure. [00:03:00] So licensing is kind of the baseline for what is required in most states. And my state in particular, I'm in Maine licensing is. You know, you have your, state inspection, your d h s background check. All adults in the household have to be d h s background checked, which was a nice change that we saw in 2020.

I thought that was a really positive one. Anyone over the age of 18. Has to be federally fingerprinted. And there's trainings that are put out through the state of Maine. Maine uses a system called Maine Roads to Quality. So those have to be updated every year. And you're inspected by the Fire marshal but basically the big part of licensing, and I would say the positive part of licensing is that there is regularly a state trained professional coming in. Unannounced making [00:04:00] visits to ensure the safety of children that are being cared for in group settings.

 And there have been over the past few years certain things that are just not necessarily adding to the safety and quality of children, but more like paperwork and like bureaucratic things that we have to jump through, which isn't really why we've got into this field.

But the basic of just having people. Designated to make sure that groups of children are safe in our community is I think important. So and then a. Accreditation is the National Association, so there's two different governing bodies. There's N A F C C, which is the na, national Association for Family Childcare, and then there's N A E Y C, which is the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

They're both the same. It's not corporate, it's like nonprofit. They both have the same standards and they both overlap. But they're [00:05:00] divided enough so that certain people are overseeing the family childcares in certain, or overseeing the centers.

Emily: Oh, okay. Yep.

Stacie: yep.

And so it's a voluntary. System that focuses more on educational quality that's being offered. Staff training, you know, including the licensee and any employees that they have. So it's a higher level of education and training that the teachers that are involved in the care of the children and teaching of the children would have.

And a. a higher level of business professional practices. So they help you go over your paperwork, they look for things like insurance you know, parent teacher kind of interactions. 'cause this is a small business. And when we get into this field, sometimes we're all a little bit like, whoa.

We weren't aware of that. So so The accreditation process will kind of walk you through that, and then in the end of [00:06:00] it, your program itself is held to a higher standard of quality.

Emily: Yeah. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. So do you have employees now? Like how many adults are you typically working with at a time?

Stacie: based on the, the size and the ratios that I have, so the ages of children that I have it's a six to one ratio. So there's two adults on site. We usually have three. We usually employ a part-time person. I currently have a retiree who's wonderful and I have High school students in my community that come and work for me as well.

So I have one full-time teacher that works alongside me and we work together. And then we have other, paid community members that come in and kind of support our program and do everything from diaper changes and taking out the trash to doing story times and planning activities. So,

Emily: I always marvel at people that are childcare providers. With no other [00:07:00] adults. I mean, it probably has its own benefits, but I think it would be hard day after day to have just no adult interaction. And, and also, I mean, wonderful too. So I don't wanna, children are wonderful, 

Stacie: I mean, I've done both by myself for periods of time. There's definitely benefits to not having to manage employees. And when you're a small business in your own home depending on what your hours are and you know, the level of flexibility that you give yourself and write into your own contract and the area that you live in, if you're able to have a client base that can, you know, have a more flexible schedule, working alone in this field can be really great.

Emily: Interesting.

Stacie: But for me, I have a lot of ideas. We're really on the go. We do a lot of projects. And so I enjoy having people here who, you know, have a lot of energy and are willing to kind of like jump in with me. So I've done really well working [00:08:00] with. Teenagers and and my one retiree who is, keeps up with the teenagers who, she's a very unique person

Emily: Oh, I 

Stacie: that's rare.

So yeah 

Emily: so let's step back a little bit. What interested you about it initially? How did you get into this field?

Stacie: I actually. Was in college for early childhood education. And we had done some, you know, site visits at large centers in our area programs on college campuses. They're called lab schools. There wasn't really public pre-k as we know it now at the time. But there were Head Start programs, so we had been to Head Start programs, which were the public funded programs.

You know, this was like, 15 years ago. And then we had a, an individual in my community come in who is a family childcare provider and speak about her program and I was just totally fascinated. And then I was able to visit her [00:09:00] program intern at her program, and she later hired me. Um,

Emily: Oh, that's

Stacie: so yeah, and we're still really good friends.

. It just was something that I hadn't seen anywhere else where it was so nurturing and such a healthy, natural environment for children and not natural in the way that we're talking about like, Acorns in the block area, natural, which we all do that too, and that's a lot of fun. But more like siblings together and the interactions between the parents and the childcare provider.

I mean, 12 kids sounds like a lot. But it really, when you're looking in childcare settings and seeing what's happening on a day-to-day basis and how engaged all the children are, it d didn't really seem like a lot of kids to me. You know, I wasn't like, oh my gosh, there's so many kids in here. and I also, from a teaching perspective and looking so the benefits to the kids and then seeing her teach the children and [00:10:00] noticing the quality that she had to the work that she was doing it was really creative and she was really able to use her teaching styles and develop it in a way that was Just seemed really fulfilling.

Emily: Yeah. Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. If you think about all the models are that are available to you, it's nice that in your education, you got to see them all while you were still in school and really get that practical experience to decide what would be the best fit for you once you graduated.

Stacie: Yeah.

Emily: if you remember, do you remember roughly how much it cost to get there, like your education and then maybe also licensing if that had a known amount of cost, getting your house ready and stuff like that? 

Stacie: Yeah. I was really fortunate in that I started my education at the community college and that was before free Community College was out. But it was really affordable. I was able to work full-time doing a different job. Was actually [00:11:00] married and had a young child of my own. And I was still able to work and take classes and pay for my education so that I didn't have to take out a lot of loans.

Now with the free college education and the abundance of scholarships that are available for early childhood education people aren't even paying for their, you know, degrees in this field which I highly recommend because it's. It's definitely not a get rich quick scheme to get into early childhood education. We can talk about that later. I mean, it doesn't mean you're gonna be broke for the rest of your life. Some people are afraid of that, but it's definitely not something you wanna go spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a degree doing. so I was able to get the first part of my degree through the community college system and then opened my program.

And then a couple years into it the scholarship programs did start to become available and I applied and, you know, got a scholarship and was able to finish my ba nights and weekends while [00:12:00] I was operating my program. And so I really paid, I would probably say less than $5,000 total on the actual degree credentialing.

Emily: Good for you. You did it. I think we don't always, and, and this isn't the only thing, but I think we don't always talk enough about the investment of. College, college that some degrees are preparing you for a much higher salary and perhaps it might be worthwhile going a more expensive route, and some degrees your income might be not as high, and therefore if you can find a way to do it less expensively that.

return on investment is more reasonable. So it's nice to hear that there's a path to do this that is, inexpensive or even, you know, potentially all the way covered for people that are thinking about this work because it's so in demand.

Stacie: It is, you don't wanna get out of school as an educator [00:13:00] and have to think. Of how much of your already modest paycheck is gonna have to go to pay for your bill, your student loan bill?

Emily: Right, 

Stacie: it's just, and I knew that at the time. I knew that what I was gonna make when I came out of college was gonna be, I.

I, if I wasn't taking that home at the end of the day, I had to send more out the door. It was gonna feel difficult, and I also knew I had enough foresight to know that I wanted to invest into a specific, Philosophy of programming to run my early childhood education program myself, and that that was probably gonna be expensive, which it was. So I wanted money for that.

Emily: Yeah. Oh, I get that. That seems like the right, Order of investment there. So why don't we jump out a little bit. And I would love to know, you know, what you can share about ranges of what people could expect to make, if they're just starting out, and then what they might [00:14:00] make owning their own program or, being more senior in the field.

Stacie: Yeah, so it varies a lot. But just speaking from childcare providers that are working in their homes, you know, a range between just, licensees that are, say, coming into it with a high school education and.

Generally you have to own your own property. So we're looking at people that are owning homes and, and properties, have space to do the work and are licensed. And just following the basic trainings each state comes out with a market rate survey.

Emily: that's 

Stacie: So yes. So you can look at your market rate survey for your state and kind of get a ballpark for what each county in your state pays per childcare slot for a family that would qualify for low income subsidized childcare.

Emily: Oh, okay. Yep. Sure.

Stacie: [00:15:00] That being said, that number is generally quite a bit lower than the actual cost of care. Okay, so you're going to be spending more than that number per childcare slot to depending again on. What other programs you're applying for. There are food programs that you can use to feed the children in your care.

 You know, you don't have to have playground equipment, you don't have to have a classroom. You know, this truly can be done from a family kitchen or a living room. Families can donate equipment. but generally speaking, the cost of care based on the market rate, it's about 75% of what it would actually cost to provide the care.

And that's what the government will pay. That's what the state will pay per slot. So a lot of [00:16:00] childcare providers. We'll use those subsidized slots to fill their programs initially and kind of gain some traction and, you know, invest in different levels of quality. There's also like quality bumps and like certain stipends that will come through based on your quality level that can come from subsidized programs.

Childcare providers will also use those spots as essentially scholarship slots and limit the amount of subsidy spots that they take. But that's kind of a way you can look at where am I in my area at least for a starting point.

Emily: do you feel comfortable sharing, and it can be quite broad, but a range of like, student graduating with a bachelor's in early childhood education. What might they make for a full-time salary year? 

Stacie: For a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, which would be like a certified teacher, right? So you would [00:17:00] have options, job options, you know, you could go work in a public school. You could work in like a college, lab school or something like that. If you'd signed to open a family childcare in your own home you know, after all is said and done.

You're taking write-offs for your property. You're spending on all of the, everything from the nuts and bolts and screws and doorknobs to play-doh and paint and pillows and dolls in your classroom. Like tax speaking on a tax range, I would say probably 30 to $65,000 a year.

Emily: Yep.

Stacie: Which doesn't seem like a lot, but the other piece to remember is for people thinking about starting off in this field, and a motivator for a lot of people in this field is that your actual property, your home is a tax write-off, 

[00:18:00] which can't really be said of a lot of other small businesses in the capacity that family childcare is.

So when you're looking at that number and then you're looking at your like actual salary, is like, do I wanna go to the public school and work that great schedule, which I think is somewhat in illusion. I think public school teachers work a lot.

Emily: Yeah, it probably is more imaginary, but I'm certain there are, you know, benefits to it. I'm definitely hoping to get a public school teacher on to talk to them soon.

Stacie: I have public school teachers that it's children are enrolled here, and I'm like, I don't know guys. Some days I'm like, I wish I was doing what you were doing. And some days I'm like, I'm really glad I'm here.

But you know, kind of like the grass is always greener kind of thing.

Um, You know, even if your salary looks lower,

Emily: Yeah.

Stacie: if you know, you are working longer hours, my thought is of, okay, so I go to this public school and I'm still gonna have to pay my [00:19:00] mortgage out of my paycheck. 

Emily: Right.

Yeah. You really have to factor that into the whole thing. Yeah. Interesting. 

Stacie: Granted it does take up my house, but I am fortunate to have a separate space in my house. And providers that do have that I think are a lot happier and have a lot more longevity in this field than providers that are. You know, everything's kind of on top of each other. Sometimes those providers are looking more at doing it like temporarily while their own children are young, not as a true career 

which is totally valid.

It's a totally valid choice to do it that way 

Emily: sure. People need all different kinds and models of childcare, you know, so what works for, for them and works for the family. That's it's good to have options first and foremost, I think. I often kind of ask about like, you know, retirement benefits Vacation healthcare. Most small businesses I talk to don't provide that.

Or if they're an employee of a small business, they [00:20:00] don't receive that. Do you find that it's kind of somewhat common to have some of those benefits or none of those benefits in your model of childcare, your sort of childcare arrangement?

Stacie: Yeah, so this is sad. I hate talking about this

part. Um, So I'll start with technically, I mean, we are a hundred percent considered small businesses. There is not any. Available health insurance for us. I really advocate for the state or federal government or however it's funded for the, for the other public services.

'cause we really, truly are a public service. Um,

Emily: Absolutely. I think anyone who parented through the pandemic knows 

that better than anyone.

Stacie: I mean, really our health insurance should be subsidized. I'm kind of appalled that it's not. We currently, I currently pay for health insurance through the marketplace. It's exorbitantly expensive and I have a family of five, so it's[00:21:00] frustrating. But it is what it's retirement benefits generally.

and I'm not super savvy, but I have just gleaned off of other providers that are super savvy do their own individual investments and do pretty well. Not to mention that a lot of us are investment is also our house. So, A lot of us have bigger, I shouldn't say a lot of us, but it's not uncommon for childcare providers to have houses that they don't necessarily plan to live in forever, and that might be sold at some point when the business is.

Done. And that, that is an investment for retirement. So but as far as like 4 0 1 kss or somebody paying in and matching us, no, we're on our own. And then vacation time and time off, I will say is one of the only benefits that we really can offer to our employees. And. The social [00:22:00] concept of early childhood educators and childcare providers, especially those of us in our own homes needing deserving and have earned time off, has changed dramatically.

I would say even over the past five years. When I first opened in this field, people were looking for providers that were open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And they were gonna walk right by if the people weren't. There were a lot of burnt out childcare providers, which can lead to unsafe situations, even with the kindest, most, good intention person is just exhausting work.

So. I did not wanna live like that.

Emily: most of the providers in our area limited their hours somewhat during the pandemic and have not returned to the full amount that they were providing before. And I can't blame them. I understand why, you know, it's just a truly better quality of life for workers and hopefully it.

It results in better [00:23:00] retention in the industry and more, you know, continuity of care for kids. It's like, it's not easy always for parents, but I, I absolutely get it.

Stacie: and one of the things I had to remind myself when I was. Struggling with the idea of changing my hours, giving myself more vacation time time to do trainings, time to do paperwork, time to run my business, time to, to meet all the requirements. 'cause the licensing requirements changed over the pan.

A lot of things changed over the pandemic. 

Emily: Just to keep it fun.

Stacie: people get into this field because we have big hearts and because we genuinely do see an exhausted parent on our doorstep and think, I know how you feel. I mean, I'm a mother and most early childhood educators, especially in our own homes, are parents as well.

And so we know how that feels and we wanna relieve some of that burden. But also reminding myself, like for the family, this is temporary. Like their children are gonna grow and this phase in their life will end. But if I keep doing too much, All the time, year [00:24:00] after year, I'm either gonna not be available at all anymore for anyone, or I'm going to completely lose myself and this thing that's gonna go on for the rest of my life.

 and I think also with perspectives on women and feminism, I'm gonna use that word that. We've grown in our profession to consider ourselves more and give ourselves more respect than what was thought of as the neighborhood babysitter maybe 30 years ago with somebody stay at home mom.

That was just home anyway. Didn't have anything going on, so I'll just toss my kids over there. Do like an actual. Profession where we have degrees and we are accredited and we are actually not only the backbone of the workforce and the parents need us, but someone has to have the expertise on how to nurture and develop children's brains over their first five years of life.

It's, [00:25:00] it's the most important brain development time. I mean that's just common knowledge now. And. Experts like pediatricians and specialists and, you know, all the stuff that's on the internet is important too, but what about that person in a family's life, especially a family who maybe isn't really close to, an elder family, I'm not even old, but an auntie 

Emily: well, so many people don't live surrounded by this

village idea of. Multi-generational family support and close enough friends that you could use for that support. And childcare systems have taken that role for a lot of, two parent working families or families where all the adults are working, 

Stacie: Right. Yeah. So it somewhat morphed into a social worker role. I.

Emily: yeah.

Stacie: there's a lot of nuanced things that need to be taken into consideration in families without an available parent during the workday a lot of the time.[00:26:00] A lot of social emotional development that needs to be honed in on with children, that the relationship that they have with their early educator is.

Much more crucial to their brain development than any other piece of what could be considered education. And to have so many of them that we are developing these relationships with we really have to know what we're doing.

Emily: Yeah. Yeah.

Stacie: We really have to be balanced and take good care of ourselves, which. Is coming back to the vacation time and the time off.

I've gotten a lot better at taking time. So I currently close five weeks a year and we operate a four day a week program. So Fridays are teacher professional development. So my teachers come in, my lead teacher comes in, And we, do projects on Fridays. We finish up projects and sometimes have children come in too.

'cause we're like, oh, we have all these that need to do their stuff. So we kinda use it as a makeup day. But we also use it as an r and r day sometimes [00:27:00] too. Like some days nothing else is happening on Fridays except for me drinking coffee for four hours straight.

Emily: Yeah, when are we getting this four day work week? I mean, isn't this the point of all the technological advancements we've made that we can just move that way? But I mean, that sounds great. I'm so glad you found a schedule that works, better for you. At least. I'm sure it's still long hours, long weeks, but 

Stacie: it feels pretty good now. It feels pretty normal 

Emily: Yeah. it's really beautiful what you said and so true about the role of childcare providers and early childhood educators that it's just so critical. It's such important work and it deserves to be recognized that way in our society.

 So walk me through your average day if there is 

Stacie: Well, sure. I mean, we definitely have a schedule.

Emily: Yeah.

Stacie: I usually start my day about Two to three hours in the morning before I open. And I use that time, to [00:28:00] exercise. Sometimes I catch up on paperwork and little odds and ends that need to be done. Like this morning I had to order rocks for my playground. Um , getting through my checklist. And cleaning. Right. So in family, childhood, my family is also here every day. So they're lovely and I have two teenagers and a nine year old, and, they're great kids. They actually love.

That I do this work, but they can leave their stuff around. So there's some cleaning things like that. And then my kiddos start to arrive around eight. And you know, it's a quiet start to the day, which is really, really nice. You know, they tear in between eight and nine. Our last drop off, you know, kind of cutoff time is nine.

So. You know, we spend time reading stories, playing blocks, doing quiet activities. I have some children that are actually getting pretty good in the kitchen. One of my goals before graduation is for children to be able to crack an egg, so [00:29:00] I. So we have kiddos that can crack eggs and, start making muffins for breakfast or whatever we're having that day.

So sometimes we start the day with some baking. I mean, we are an outdoor program. We're outside a lot. But that being said, we do have little ones that need a lot of gear. So if it's kind of yucky out, we might start the day inside and then move our way outside after we eat in the morning. And then once we're outside, it's, you know, really just exploring our nature explore playground. We've got bridges and slides and tricycles and a little sheltered area for books and reading. And we just spend a lot of time like, just kind of in wonderment. Which is another one of the beautiful benefits of this field is I never really have to grow up.

I get to be excited about the first snowflake every year. And the birds are starting to fly away in formation now, and every fall, every year it's like, wow, okay, here they go. You know, listen, you know, so we [00:30:00] get to do things like that every, every single day. We're an art based program as well, so art and nature based.

So we're bringing paints outside and. Even just painting with mud or we have different surfaces that the kids use, whether it's fabric or plastic or paper. So we're spending time having conversations with them about their work, you know, their children's work is their play and their artwork and the things that they create and build.

And then documenting their learning. Which technology has made incredible. I do not know how the teachers of the past walked around with clipboards and binders and. Crazy having to like even downloading pictures onto a laptop and that was like a lot of work for them. That was like a whole nother category of this job where now we have smartphones and we have an app and we take pictures and we can so quickly categorize it into like art or.

Math or whatever, and it's [00:31:00] all neat in there. so our documentation is really quick and easy. And then we would come in we would change our outfits because at that point we're all filthy. And, you know, getting ready for lunch and, you know, food is huge for a lot of family childcare providers.

For a variety of reasons. It's cultural, it's comforting. You know, we're meeting federal food program standards. So, you know, we're thinking a lot about nutrition. And I think in the family childcare homes children are really involved. So like lunch is, pretty fun

Emily: Yeah. Oh, I 

Stacie: Um, So then we do that and then it's nap time which is another whole level of nurturing and bonding and getting to know each individual child's routine. Little friendships start to build during that time of day 'cause it's quiet and we can learn who can be quiet next to each other and who can't.

And if you're quiet enough and the teachers don't have to speak to you, you get to be next to that friend every day. [00:32:00] So that's how they start with that. You know, then we get up, we eat again, and we go back outside. So there's a lot of. Transitions throughout the day, but we like to kind of dilly dally as much as we can because we just have this one group, you know, we're not sharing a gym or sharing a playground or whatever, so we can meander around a little bit more.

Emily: Yeah. I love that you can take your time. That's great. And what time are you like done for the day?

Stacie: Well, I mean, any small business owner would tell you never. And it does vary from, day to day. If I am set myself up, well, I can get out of work on time. But sometimes It never ends. Like there's things left out tonight that I won't put away. You know, definitely not tonight. And there's some days that I can leave early because I'm staffed and I can do that.

So I mean, we close at four 30.

Parents [00:33:00] pick up by four 30. We try to be completely cleaned up, anything pressing like dirty dishes in the sink and trash out by five. But I mean, we're working all the time.

I have stopped checking my emails bed.

Emily: That's a good boundary. That's a fair 

boundary. So what is something that's tough about your job that either you didn't anticipate or you didn't expect? How tough it would be.

Stacie: The one thing that I was really shocked at when I first started in this field was really how sick I would be all the time. It was actually a little traumatic to myself and my husband. And it was probably what was gonna do me in, and I was actually pretty close to being done 

with this.

And then Covid hit and everybody freaked out about every germ and. I closed for a little while and then other childcare providers and we all started networking and we all started getting together and some of 'em were like, I gotta reopen 'cause I gotta pay [00:34:00] my mortgage payment. And some people were like, well, I just love the kids.

And I was like, I am really bored and I just built this huge playground, landscape playground and it's just sitting here and it's making me depressed. So we just started developing daily health screenings. and it's every symptom. And if anybody has children and went through covid, they've seen 'em.

And, I wasn't sick for like a year and I couldn't believe the fog that lifted and the creativity that was coming out of me and the passion for what I was doing and the fact that I was. feeling good enough to wake up every day to do this job instead of just dredging through it. And so I started to get anxious about what was gonna happen when the health screens were gone and everybody was gonna get sick again.

you know, but I thought, I'm tired of doing this. And I dropped the health screening and within the first week, a parent brought a child that was terribly sick to my doorstep and I got sick 

and everybody got sick and I was like, I'm not doing [00:35:00] this anymore and I brought the health screening back and I still have it to this day.

And my parents diligently fill it out every day, and I'm sure they think it is redundant, but it's not like we never get colds you know, 

young children get sick, everybody gets sick. But if I'm getting sick more than four times a year, to the point where I'm like missing family events, Every holiday weekend, I'm sick.

 It's to that point, it's like not fair. Um, And I really don't think anybody should have to do that. I don't think school teachers are sick that much. They're spaced out enough from children where we are like literally in their faces. They're so little and they need us and they cry on us.

That, you know, parents really just have to take that responsibility. And I know it's hard with jobs. And people get frustrated, but I am not going to exist anymore. My field is not going to exist anymore. Or it's gonna have really high turnover. Like you're gonna see new people every [00:36:00] six months throughout your c child's entire early childhood.

Which is still happens in centers and, and spaces, you know? But yeah, the illness, it was. I could not believe it.

Emily: I'm glad that you found a system that works well because it is, you know, it's hard for.

Parents that have limited sick time and all of those things, trying to make that judgment call and sometimes you keep the sick kid home and then they're fine all day long and you're like, but you know, you gotta think about all the impacts of exposing someone that's sick to other people.

So 

Stacie: it's definitely tricky. But you know, it's just a few years.

I'm trying to be in this for 30 more years, hopefully.

Emily: Right, right. 

You've talked about a lot of things you love about your job. Is there anything you'd wanna add? Especially if it's something that you think might surprise people, and you've already had quite a few good ones, so if you don't have anything to add. No, no pressure, 

Stacie: So I obviously got into this field because I love children and it's hard to you know, transition children out, when they grow [00:37:00] up.

Emily: Yeah.

Stacie: That's a tricky one. As my community grows, you know, one of the things that I've learned that I've, I'm really loving about this job and this career is that, there's a song, of course, I'm a teacher, right?

I'm a preschool teacher. I've got all these songs, but there's a song about love growing. And, you know, I thought, oh, I'm gonna love these children. I'm gonna love this class. But Then they grow up and they go to school and they come back and they visit me and their little siblings come, you know, and their parents tag me or send me pictures from their third grade graduations or things love just keeps growing and it's so exponential and we talk about it in the world and you know, people put hearts on their windows, but it's I'm gonna keep growing this for the rest of my life. And I'm not a super old lady yet. I'm a geriatric millennial. So I've got a lot left it gives me so much hope and even excitement of how much of this am I gonna[00:38:00] store up throughout my entire life?

And that there's no real end to it. And with everything in the world that's just so. Yucky. there's actually this beautiful energy that just keeps developing and growing and it continues to connect. So I don't even really know how to describe what that is. love community faith, you know, you can call it all of those things, but, it's a generating thing.

And it really does stay with me, and I hope that it stays with the children and the families that I've, been in contact with through this work.

Emily: Yeah. Oh, that's so beautiful. Yeah. I mean it's, it's such a huge impact in such a formative period of time for a little kid, so that's amazing. So this is my last question. What is one piece of advice generally about work that you would give your younger self?

Stacie: This is gonna sound super practical after I just went on my, like, love grows tangent, really, 

Emily: away.

Stacie: I mean, really good [00:39:00] business practices really take some business in marketing classes and, walk into this as a professional and knowing your worth because A lot of us started off as babysitters and nannies and you know, the kid next door, walking the little kids home from after school or with our younger siblings or whatever.

And there's an expertise that you start to learn in that. But as you become a professional in this field, you really need to have strong business practices and boundaries because those types of things will tap you out so fast that you won't even have the energy to. Tap into all that good stuff.

So it's, like a form of self-protection really. and it took me years to learn and I had already started, I think I was like three years in and, you know, I didn't have families that were like really plowing me over when I opened. I had some cool people but I had a few.

Emily: That's great advice. And I mean, it's so important, like you said, for the longevity of this as a real career. having the boundaries, [00:40:00] setting yourself up for success with you know, all the tools of small business management. I think that's great advice. So thank you so much for being here, Stacie.

I really, really enjoyed this discussion.

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