Using space effectively
The very nature of home-based childcare means that your home is also your business setting. Many childminders look forward to returning their setting back to a family space at the end of the working day. This makes using space effectively so important. Childminders have shared their clever tips for keeping things in order.
Audit your resources, your toys, books, craft materials and so on. Consider how often they are used and, importantly, what they're used for. If there are items that are taking up space but that are no longer relevant to the children you have, clear them out.
If you have a loft, shed, or other secure storage space, you can keep them tucked away until they're needed again. Or consider organising a swap with other childminders in your area. They might be desperately seeking new toddler toys in exchange for bits for older children.
Consider how you can make best use of shelving and storage units. Many childminders like to store their toys and resources in ways that are accessible to the children so they can self-select their activities. Working in this way can help you rotate resources as well to meet different needs, themes and seasons.
Invest in resources that can be easily stored, for example, collapsible tents or foldable play tables. This gives you maximum flexibility with your space.
If you provide meals for children in your care, you will know that this can be a huge dent in your weekly outgoings ALTHOUGH CHILDMINDERS SHOULD BE CHARGING FOR FOOD. Here are some of our favourite efficiency saving ideas:
- Plan your menus and make meals in bulk and freeze where possible.
- Take advantage of supermarket savings and offers – a membership card at discount stores such as Costco can be a good way of making savings.
- Made too much food? If you have extra vegetables, meat or potatoes, blend them all together to make wholesome, nutritious baby food – you can then use it the next day, or freeze it for future use.
- Use your freezer. To avoid waste, consider freezing items that you know you will always need, such as meat and certain vegetables. Milk and bread can also be frozen.
- Order food shopping online – you will often need the same food every week, and your online shopping account will let you create a ‘list’ of items regularly purchased and will deliver it to your door, saving you time and money!
- Childminders are eligible for free milk on the same basis as nurseries under the Nursery Milk scheme – go to www.nurserymilk.co.uk to sign up.
Have a look at some of these great reusing ideas here – and you can use it to teach children about the value of recycling – and protecting the environment at the same time!
Children can be entertained by almost anything used in the right way, so think about the following:
- Reuse household ‘rubbish’ such as toilet roll inners, plastic containers and cardboard boxes for hours of junk modelling fun
- Old blankets and bed linen are perfect for making dens or using outdoors during the summer
- Reuse cutlery and kitchen utensils as digging implements in the garden or for play dough sessions