End of An Era

Earlier this month, I completed the process of shutting down Teachers' Tots, my childcare business. In June, 2012, I'd made the decision to stop taking on any new children, and I essentially limited myself from that time on to just my one remaining long-term family. I was very happily committed to caring for those children - Anna, Leah, and Cora - who have become like nieces to me, until they no longer needed my services. But when the girls' mom told me in March, 2014, that she'd decided to quit her job in order to be home with her kids, I knew my daycare tenure was wrapping up for good

In many ways, it has not been a hard transition. The Lord had begun to show me very clearly during the winter of 2011 that I needed to begin thinking about downsizing. And, though I didn't embrace the idea at first, a series of events - both positive and negative - between March, 2011, and February, 2013, convinced me it was the right decision, with only its timing yet to be determined. And then, of course, that was confirmed when Anna, Leah, and Cora's mom finalized her choice to stay home. So, other than missing the little girls, I have complete peace about it and trust that God has good plans for me in this change.

Over the years, I cared for 19 children other than my own, including 10 who started with me as infants. All but four were teachers' kids - by design - because the daily and yearly schedule kept by teachers was easier for me to manage than if I'd cared for the children of people in other professions. And, since I am done now, I thought a little retrospective might be in order.

February, 2003 through November, 2004
I started with four children - four-year old Kaden and his toddler sister Mirren, who were here full-time, and two brothers, three-year old Blake and infant Aidan, who came in the mornings. Kaden stayed just a short time before enrolling in a special needs preschool program at a local school, and Mirren stayed only through early June, 2003. I kept Blake and Aidan the next school year and also took on two toddler girls, part-time Olivia and full-time Ella. Ella's family moved out of state in June, 2004, and Blake and Aidan moved to a new home in a neighboring town, making a different provider more convenient for their mom. So I had only Olivia and her baby brother, Luke, in the fall of 2004.
Because my girls were only toddlers when I started, my days during this nearly two-year period were very full and sometimes quite hectic. Even so, it was an overall good experience. But I was dealing with some personal issues near the end of that time so when Olivia and Luke's mom was laid off and opted to stay home rather than seek a new job, I was rather relieved. And I thought I'd seen the end of my daycare days.

December, 2004 through April, 2006
I relished this time being "just mom," and would have continued with it forever.
However, financial realities led me early in 2006 to start gearing up to re-open Teachers' Tots.

May, 2006 through June, 2012
In the spring of 2006, when my girls were almost four and almost five, I interviewed with a number of families and settled on two children for a fall of 2006 re-launch - Hallie, who was almost five and became one of my girls' best friends, and Anna, who would be born in September and start coming to my home in November.
However, a series of unusual circumstances led me to take on six-month old Tegen full-time in early May through mid-June and then to continue caring for him every Friday afternoon until he went to kindergarten in 2011. And another situation resulted in my taking on N. in January , 2007, when she was nine months old.
That arrangement worked out very well for a very long time because once Hallie started school in the fall of 2007, I had Anna and N., who were just seven months apart in age and who became the best of friends, along with Tegen on a part-time basis.
And I continued very happily like this until the spring of 2008. Then some non-teacher friends from church asked if I'd watch their three school-aged daughters - Marissa, Shelby, and Rachel - during the summer and consider after-school care in the fall. They were good girls and close in age to my daughters, but I soon discovered that I really needed the summer break from other people's children as well as teachers' hours, so I ended my tenure with the sisters in June, 2009.
My girls and I had an excellent routine established with our Three Muskateers - Anna, N., and Tegen. In fact, the time period from May, 2006, through October, 2010, was a true blessing almost every single day. Unfortunately, things didn't go well with N.'s baby brother, H., who started with me in November, 2010. So N. and H. left my care in early March, 2011, while Anna's mom was on maternity leave with her new sister, Leah. Anna and Leah came back in May, 2011, but Tegen left us in June in preparation for starting school the following September.
For the fall of 2011, I had just Anna and Leah, and things worked out very well. My girls adored Anna despite the age difference, and we included her in our homeschool lessons. And Leah was an amazingly easy baby to care for. However, knowing that Anna would have to leave for school in September, 2012, I interviewed a few other families, seeking a playmate for Leah. I eventually settled on M., who was born in January, 2012, and started with me in April. But that situation was also a struggle, so my tenure with M. ended in June, 2012, and I made a conscious choice at that time to avoid taking on any new families. I felt I'd entered a new era as a care provider for only Leah and her siblings.

July, 2012 through June, 2014
Once Anna had to leave for school, my girls and I really relished the thought of doting on Leah, who went to part-time status when her mom left her full-time position to be home for Anna in the afternoons. But in October, 2012, some friends from church found themselves in desperate need of part-time care for their infant daughter, Olivia. Since they were not teachers and since I knew Leah's mom was planning for at least one more baby, I committed to caring for Olivia until they found permanent care or through early June, 2013, whichever came first. I was tempted once I got to know Olivia to extend my services permanently, but God orchestrated events to make it clear that that was not His plan.
Thus, in August, 2013, we were back to caring for only sweet Leah, and her mom had Cora in November. They took a three-month maternity leave and, because I knew her heart was to be home with her girls, I was not at all surprised when their mom decided to quit at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. That gave me about three months to dote on Leah and Cora while also preparing myself mentally for the end of an era.
In doing some calculations, I determined that I was employed caring for other people's children for 118 of the last 136 months (or, put another way, I included other children in our lives for 9 years and 10 months out of the last 11 years, four months) - whew! Though it kept me very busy, I am very thankful that all but two of those situations were far more positive than negative, and that we maintain friendships, especially with Hallie and Anna, Leah, and Cora, and their parents.
Though I was wrong in 2004 when I felt my daycare days were done, I really do think that's the case now. Obviously, I could be mistaken again, but my girls are at a different season of life now so I'm convinced that moving on from childcare at this time is a very good family decision. In fact, I'm looking forward to being "just mom" again for the first time in many years. I also see that God has been orchestrating some other things for me in the last several months, and now I'll have more time to work on all of that. So as far as I know, Teachers' Tots really has come to the very end of its era.  It was a good run, but now it's time to look forward to new adventures.


Robin said...

Tina, bless you for the service that you have done! I'm sure the children in your care heard the name of and about Jesus. I'm smiling at the fact that the mom decided to stay home. An amazing ending to an era. :)

pachi365 said...

This actually left me in tears. Well done, Tina.

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