The joys & pains of a mixed group

I think each child in my care (especially those who don't have siblings at home), think that coming to Small Wonders is like coming home to a large family. You will find it interesting to know that each child that attends the dayhome is an only child. There was one child who was the youngest of 3, and I saw something different in her...I just knew!

Ups & Downs 
Having a dayhome that accommodates younger and older children can be wonderful;  but it's a lot of work. Keeping your eyes and ears open is no small feat. Firstly, little people are's amazing! There are wee ones who have little control of their limbs and reflexes, and are curious to do and try everything. 
On the other end, you'll find the active toddler who's just discovered his hands and feet, doing amazing new things. Then there's the younger preschooler who is constantly exploring and testing the limits. To the older child ready to help, always planning and who's kind of a know-it-all, you never know what each day will bring.

There are the watch out for the babies warnings, and the STOP THAT NOW, when they are doing something so dangerous, you don't even have a minute to think or blink. There are the times when you cannot imagine that a child has done something that seems out of character...I never know why I am fazed by those things.

Ensuring that the babies get cuddle time is so important, but logistics win-out sometimes, especially when you have to fly all over the house after them as they move about. Then there's ensuring that they (babies) play with age-appropriate toys, the fact that their inability to participate in activities due to napping conflicts actually does not allow for as much flexibility as you thought, and the frustration of the older ones when activities are modified or delayed due to all of the above.
The days
The older kids also do a lot of double-dutying when it comes to cleaning up - thank God they don't argue about who does what. The fact is they do the lions' share of the work because the little ones are not yet capable of "cleaning up" their own messes. I wonder about that too (how fair is it really?), and find myself picking up after all of them, because of the perceived unfairness - that's something I still have to figure out.

Sometimes the days are very long....
When the rhythm is flowing, and the kids are all engaged, it's awesome. But what about when it's not all going as planned? Having been on quite a few job interviews in very different sectors, there's one thing that I was always prepared for - the situational questions - you know the ones about "what would you do if...?" 

So for the dayhome, the question is, what would Salma do in the worst situation...not when the kids are calm...engaged...laughing...resting...
What does Salma do when 2 babies are screaming (thankfully I have 2 arms)...but seriously...what to do? What to do when a pre-schooler starts screaming and the little ones get frightened?
Flesh & Blood & Tantrums
When one or more of those children are your own flesh and blood, it can feel like a puzzle at times. Many times I hear care-providers say that they will treat the incoming child as they do their own. I don't think it comes down to that for me. In fact while I will often let things slide with one of my little "incoming" children, I am much harder and more stern with my kids.

It's way easier for me when it is a child who is not my own flesh and blood. If an incoming child acts up, I think/say "let's work through this...". When it's my own, I tend to get annoyed first, then walk through it later. Tough! 
I am also likely to soothe an incoming child's cries faster than my biological child's...but I give any child more one on one time when I see him/her looking tired, or frustrated - no guilt!
...seriously who has a meltdown in the middle of the kitchen (with rainboots on?). Uhm, yep, that's my kid...
Caring for young children will always have its ups and downs. For us, it's a work in progress...


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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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