This is me, and this is my husband Derek. Next year will mark our 10 year wedding anniversary. We are proud to say, we have an (almost) 11 year old son, and 8 year old son and a daughter who is 4 (and 3/4's). Together, we have built 4 daycare centres....and I think they all rock in their own way!
Derek pushes me .... he pushes me harder than anyone has ever pushed me.... ever!
To be clear, not physically in any way; he hears my goals, he understands my vision and he encourages me to follow through, even when it seems impossible to do so. Derek is my biggest fan, and my rock.
We have always said that the daycare "business" is a great one to be in.... children keep getting made, and spaces for them are always going to be in need. With the demand so high, also come expectations for quality.
Daycares open and close around us without much notice. You only hear of the "bad"ones on the 5 o'clock news when something goes horribly wrong.... it always makes me breathe a deep breath when I hear of the terrible things that make the news.....
"Your children are in my hands. Their safety rests on my shoulders.... they MUST be kept safe at all cost..... at all cost.".... my mantra.... my life.....my responsibility.
The responsibility of a caregiver is huge...it's monstrous.... we are there to protect your precious little child no matter what.
The responsibility of owning daycare centres... is beyond huge.... it's infinitely huge!
I am responsible for the children of more than 100 families at any given time......wow...( breathe.... take a big ....big breath in, ........and slowly exhale....)
Building environments that are extremely safe for them has become my practise........ and that's not to say that children need to be bubble wrapped, and given helmets while playing outdoors.... (sometimes I truly wish I could, but that wouldn't be very good practise)..... and for those toddlers learning to walk who (AIR-TRIP) constantly....I want to inform you that I have given great thought to you as well! Quite simply, I have just eliminated VIHA's list of hazards (High climbers, poor-staffing, broken materials, sharp objects etc.) It's not that hard to do, you just have to know what to look for.
In 2014 we opened our Infant/Toddler program at Little Bears. This was the biggest project for us to date!
Designing and building a safe, natural space for 16 infants and toddlers was a big task! I'm being very honest when I say, I could not have done it without Derek. What I want, he builds.... usually that is.... (with lots and lots and lots of negotiating along the way!).... and many compromises too....for both parties... but we rock as a team now.
To build a safe indoor environment for this age group, we had to literally and physically start on our knees and work our way up. Sky lights were installed because babies and toddlers spend a lot of time on the floor looking up! A small toilet was installed to promote self-help skills when toileting. The window sills are low enough that they can see out of every window. A Giant circle window was put in the wall which divides the sleep room and the main room to allow children to feel safe at all times. A anti-slam arm was put on the doors to allow for little fingers that may find their way into the cracks. Two small refrigerators were added so that the children could help themselves when they were hungry or wanted water. Outdoor cubbies were made so that excess dirt and sand would not be tracked onto the floors which these small people crawl on all day! We installed a generator to back up lighting and water in case of a power outage. (Super scary stuff when you're little)The furniture was hand made using the wood from our own property. Each chair was hand cut, sanded and waxed individually to fit under the small legs of toddlers.
I feel so proud of this special centre, I could go on and on......... really... just ask me in person what we actually did for 3 years while building this centre!
What I guess I'm trying to point out, is this is my LIFE.... these centres, these children.... everything you see and feel when you drive up the drive way is made with love by me. "I could be very wrong....but I don't think there are a lot of centres that could say the same thing about their facilities. I have nothing bad to say about any other daycares or pre-schools. each one is special and unique in their own way! Many of them are amazing, and there are many loving, educated caregivers out there as well! My advise to families searching for care, is to just go have a visit, and listen to your "mommy -gut" Maybe ask yourself these questions:
"Will my child be safe here?" "Is the space made for the age of my child?" "Is this a way for the caregiver to just make money, or are they truly invested in my child?" "Is the physical facility clean, and the toys in good repair?" "Is the space warm, inviting and beautiful? "Is my mommy-gut telling me anything's off?"......... trust in your mommy-gut, it will rarely steer you wrong!
My three children have all attended my centres since they were small. sadly, my youngest daughter was already too old to be a part of our new Infant/Toddler building when it was complete. It makes me smile to see my kids running around in the 2 acre forest that surrounds Little Bears.... they have grown up here.... we built this for them to love..... we built this for ALL children to enjoy!...... they deserve beauty.... we all do.
I am often reminded how very lucky we are to live here on beautiful Vancouver Island. Our children are so privileged just to be here, surrounded in tall cedar trees and breathing fresh air. The Highlands are particularly beautiful, the perfect place to raise little humans who love being in nature! I love my Little Bears......
" One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin."~ W. Shakespeare
Thanks for reading.....
"love your tribe, love them deeply."