ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie

Episode 175: The Best Strategies for Efficiently Delegating Holiday Tasks

November 07, 2023 Carrie Casey and Kate Woodward Young
ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie
Episode 175: The Best Strategies for Efficiently Delegating Holiday Tasks
Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, Kate and Carrie discuss the importance of delegation and planning during the holiday season. They share their experiences and strategies in managing large family gatherings, meal preparations, and festive activities. They also touch on the need for clear communication, considering school schedules, and managing expectations. The discussion extends to their professional lives, suggesting the hiring of extra staff during this period and the importance of sending end-of-year reports. The episode ends with a reminder of self-care and maintaining traditions during this busy period.

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Marie (00:00:01) - Welcome to childcare conversations with Kate and Carrie.

Kate (00:00:05) - Okay, so in a matter of weeks, we will be at the end of 2023 now.

Carrie (00:00:11) - Okay, I'm not ready for that yet. I haven't even planned where my family is going for Christmas because we go somewhere, because we've got too many family to put in anybody's house.

Kate (00:00:23) - Well, you know, so let's think that through. So we're gonna we're going to pick on Carrie just a little bit. Um, because bet that everybody who's listening to us, if you haven't been there, I love you. And I'm a little envious, but the rest of us have been there probably more than once, which means that there is a reason. Have you ever really thought about why there are so many people who shop one of two times, either Black Friday or the night before Christmas?

Carrie (00:00:54) - My dad, loves to go shopping on December 24th. He's much better now that he has Amazon. But when he had to go to the mall, he was like, I'm going to the mall the day before Christmas.

Carrie (00:01:04) - Now with Amazon, he'll go like three days before he'll go on Amazon. And if you don't have an Amazon wish list, you're getting some weird ass stuff.

Kate (00:01:15) - Like what can what what can get there in two days? Yeah. Um, but let's take this through. Mean how many people do we know? Know when Thanksgiving is? When Christmas.

Carrie (00:01:24) - Thursday it's on a Thursday.

Kate (00:01:27) - When Christmas is. And here's here's a good one when the end of the year is. In other words, it's not just about Christmas.

Carrie (00:01:35) - It's a week after Christmas. I know that one. I know that one.

Kate (00:01:39) - It's not just about the holidays and everything that goes with that, but as a director, you have those end-of-the-year letters that you got to send to parents, which, you know, some parents are on you by, like, you know, January 4th, like they want their letter because they want to try to do their taxes as soon as possible. So with that, with that general framework, Carrie, you just said that you and your family, they go somewhere for Christmas.

Kate (00:02:06) - I mean, we're talking depending on when people listen to this. They could have, you know, you might end up with just a few weeks before that happens. What are some of the steps that you need to do right now?

Carrie (00:02:17) - Um, well, we have to find a location that can sleep between 15 and 25 people, depending on who all decides they want to come this year. Um, and it has to have enough bedrooms. It was much easier when most of the people were under the age of 12. Now that everybody is in a while, most of the people are adults. It we have to have so many more bedrooms. It was easier.

Kate (00:02:42) - Well and a lot of them are, are you know have our couples. Right. So you know like that's annoying.

Carrie (00:02:47) - That's just really.

Kate (00:02:48) - Couples don't generally want to stay in a room together. Yeah.

Carrie (00:02:52) - It was much easier when we didn't have very many people who were over the age, you know, when the percentage was more under the age of 18 than over the age of 18 and people insist on continuing to get older.

Carrie (00:03:06) - It's very annoying. Um, so once we have a location, we have to figure out who's cooking, which major meals and who's placing the grocery order for having, you know, miscellaneous other things like fruit and eggs and bread and whatever you just need to have to have. And oh, is somebody bringing flour and salt and spices and paper, paper towels. Yeah. All of those kinds of things. And of course there's gifts and. Okay.

Kate (00:03:38) - Wait wait wait, wait, let's go back. So we've got a list.

Carrie (00:03:41) - I'm giving you a list.

Kate (00:03:43) - I'm just Verifying. Okay. So we got to find a location that can handle humans and animals. Right. Weren't there some dogs don't usually.

Carrie (00:03:51) - Everybody with dogs boards their dogs because too many dogs okay.

Kate (00:03:57) - All right. So so so. But in your case, a place that doesn't have dogs. When we had.

Carrie (00:04:02) - The ranch, everybody brought their dogs because we had a ranch. And so you just let the dogs be ranch dogs for a week.

Kate (00:04:10) - The the dogs got a vacation too. Okay. So you got to find a location, got to do some menu planning. Okay. So but but with all of that, you've also got to communicate with people, right?

Carrie (00:04:20) - Yeah. And shared responsibilities and wait.

Kate (00:04:24) - Wait, wait. That's the whole purpose of today's call for.

Carrie (00:04:28) - Different, um, family groups that I travel with handle you parenting, you know, you giving guidance to their children different ways. So you need to know ahead of time who is going to be okay with you going to clean that up, and who's going to be like, don't you talk to my baby. So you have to have all of that. Um, and oh, packing. And if we're going to a place with a different climate, maybe getting clothes for the different climate, for the hotter climate or the cold. Or climb it or whatever.

Kate (00:05:01) - Well, I'm figuring out how to get there, right?

Carrie (00:05:03) - Yeah, I, I like it when we do it in Austin, um, or a place I can easily drive from Austin, because then I just get in a car.

Carrie (00:05:13) - Um, but sometimes we have gone very far away. We've gone to Florida before. We've gone, uh, I went to Chile one time at Christmas. I went to Eastern Europe one time at Christmas. So I've gone lots of different places. Christmas, because it's an easy time to leave child care because your numbers are down. And so it's an easy time to run away and join the circus.

Kate (00:05:42) - All right. So let's talk about that circus and all those fun monkeys. So one of the things that we wanted to talk about today is literally delegating through the holidays.

Carrie (00:05:52) - Delegating or delegating.

Kate (00:05:54) - Well I do I always delegate. But for the rest of y'all who don't have a name like Kate, you get to delegate and so here's what I want you guys to think about. And this is a great opportunity to have the conversation with Carrie, because once Carrie figures out a general location or, you know, a housing experience, she can start to begin to delegate even the menu planning, like the one advantage of having all these people over the age of 18 who this is not their first trip, is that some of these experiences could be delegated and could be a pleasant delegation if done efficiently.

Kate (00:06:34) - So what might be a great example of something that you can and will delegate, and what you might need to do to kind of help make sure that you aren't sitting there on Christmas Eve going, well, now, if I had done it or you did not do that, right.

Carrie (00:06:51) - So we we as a group tend to delegate out meals, and we first asked for people who would like to volunteer to do specific holiday meals. So Christmas, Boxing Day, those are the two for the Christmas holiday. Um, the other one that I have arranged for a lot of years is 4th of July. And so it's what's happening on the 4th of July and the Saturday closest to 4th of July. Um, so frequently it can be who's going to do the big meal. And we ask for volunteers. And if nobody volunteers, then we assign it. Um, and then what are fun activities for everyone to do?

Kate (00:07:35) - Okay, so that's the wait, wait, so that's two different things. You've got the activities and the food.

Kate (00:07:39) - Okay. So as you guys are doing the meal prep and you delegate, how can that be done? What are some of the steps that you might use when delegating a meal that helps you as the organizer? Uh, not get really worried about whether or not that's going to be done on time and meet the dietary restrictions of your group.

Carrie (00:08:02) - We make sure everybody knows any current dietary restrictions, and we make sure that there is snack food available should anybody become hangry because the turkey is not done and they are used to eating at 530, and the people who are cooking are used to eating at 830. That's a three hour difference. That can be an awful lot. So making sure that there's food around to deal with anybody who's hangry.

Kate (00:08:34) - So you've delegated. We're just we're going to stick with Christmas. You've delegated Christmas Eve dinner. If you were in a management role of this function, what other things might you other than the fact that you've delegated? How else would you do the how else would you communicate with the person who has been given a task to help them make sure that that everybody's clear on what the task is

Carrie (00:09:00) - You go over what are staples that you need to have. So what are the supplies that you need in order to do this job? Do you need an extra pair of hands? Do you need some assistance? Um, do you want to add something to somebody else's grocery shopping order? Um, there's almost always multiple trips to the grocery store, because as much as we try to plan, there's always, oh, we forgot to order butter or whatever. Um, so being like, okay, the next trip to HEB is happening in 45 minutes. Do you need to add anything? So checking in at various points where we can give them some help to see. Do you need any help?

Kate (00:09:44) - Okay, so if you were in taking a scenario into a child care center or into a director or into another business, one option, because this has been something you've done more than once, right, is to make sure that you've prepared some sort of a checklist for the people who are going to do this event.

Kate (00:10:00) - So a real easy translation for this, if you're listening and you're in childcare, is if you host some sort of staff holiday event. Right. And so even if you, as the director, are no longer the one planning all the details, you've probably done it enough that you know you have the list of things to remember. If nothing else, what were the things that went really, really bad? Because you're getting.

Carrie (00:10:24) - Napkins is almost always a problem for the the staff event. Some there's never enough napkins for for staff events. Never.

Kate (00:10:36) - Yeah. So you know so making that checklist, checking in with people throughout the process, you know, those are great ways that when you're managing and you're delegating during the holidays is really, really important. I think the other thing that's really important during the holiday planning season, because again, I'm talking to you right now and you've probably got Thanksgiving coming up, which is more than just a Thursday nowadays, right? Like it's from the Friday before to the Monday after because of school, school, kids being out.

Kate (00:11:09) - So you need to know with your staff, right, who's going to be in, who's not in check in with the parents, what kids are in, what kids aren't in.

Carrie (00:11:16) - And you need to know all of the surrounding school district schedule, not just the one that your school is in, but if you've got parents, you know, bringing kids who are in different school districts, if you've got employees living in different school districts, you've got to take all of that into consideration, because yours might be just a Thursday Friday school district. And the next one over is a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And then the other one is that we're taking the week off. That's going to affect how your program is going to run.

Kate (00:11:47) - Absolutely. So you have to ask. And so you need to ask today if you don't already know, and not just your staff and not just your parents, make sure you have that conversation with everybody. Because if your staff have school age kids or your parents have additional children that happen to be school age kids or college kids that are going to be home, and all of a sudden people are just going to take the day off because those college kids are home and they want to spend time with them.

Kate (00:12:11) - You know, all of these are things to make sure that you're talking to your parents and staff about. So find out what other people's commitments are for the next six weeks, because, you know, running a substitute service carry. And I definitely had the experience of people going, oh yeah, it's a holiday, so tomorrow won't be there.

Carrie (00:12:29) - Yeah, that works out really well.

Kate (00:12:31) - Oh yeah. So make sure that you actually if you are the boss or even number two boss, you know, make sure you guys know what the parents are doing, what the kiddos are doing and what your own staff are doing. So once you've figured out all those schedules and you start to plan some special events, you've got school, special events. Your staff are going to have their own version of special events that they are going to want to go check out this kid or that kids holiday parties, and then you've got some holiday events. So again, depending on the faith and background of your parents and staff, you could have people starting Hanukkah in January and going all the way through the end or and beginning.

Carrie (00:13:14) - You missed that. You got that off the.

Kate (00:13:17) - Beginning of December, all the way through Kwanzaa at the end of the month. And you know everything in between because there's all kinds of stuff that can happen from a from a faith or cultural standpoint during that time period. And, you know, again, depending on where you live, if you live in the South and you have folks that kind of get into Mardi Gras, then then, you know, you extend for another three weeks. And so and that's on top of all the business stuff. So you this is the perfect time for you to delegate because you really don't have a choice.

Carrie (00:13:48) - But and also you don't have to keep all of that information in your head about how Susan needs to have next Thursday afternoon off, because there's a cookie exchange and her kids class, and you don't have to keep it in your head. And please, Lord, please don't try to this. If you don't have a whiteboard up at your school, go buy one.

Carrie (00:14:08) - Bolt it to a wall for the next you know, through the end of the year and put use electrical tape and make a grid so that everybody can write down when they need off and who's covering their classroom. You don't have to make all those decisions. If you're the kind of director who wants to make all those decisions, that's your choice. But you need a big graphical place that is on a wall so that when somebody comes in and says, oh, by the way, my kid is now going to be the third lamb in the church, blah, blah, blah. And so I need to be off these three days to take her to rehearsal. You need to be able to look at a big thing that they can also look at and go, I don't see how that's going to happen. I can give you one of those days. Is where I can give you two of those. You need to talk to your sister, your aunt, your your next door neighbor, your dog. Somebody else is going to have to take some of that.

Kate (00:15:08) - Oh love that. So when you start talking about delegating, mean, one of the things that we need to remind folks is that the delegating doesn't have to be just internally with the staff in your program. And if you know that this time of year is always crazy for you because you're always doing Christmas gifts by the kids, y'all know what I mean, right? The little, you know, painted hands, right? So maybe you need some extra staff during that time period. Maybe you need to talk to your own family and make sure your own family don't have huge expectations for you. Carrie was not planning these events when Carrie had four schools. No. Okay.

Carrie (00:15:44) - So just went along.

Kate (00:15:46) - Yeah. So make sure that you know that if you are handling all this stuff at work, that you're not handling all this stuff at home, you know, so reach out and make sure that your family knows that you need to delegate to them as well. So we really want you to delegate and communicate.

Kate (00:16:00) - Those are

Carrie (00:16:02) - I know That it seems like the perfect time to reduce your staffing because you've got fewer kids. I'm going to argue against that, and I'm going to say this is the perfect time to get some college kid who's back in town for the Christmas break and whose parents are like, oh my lord, if they play Xbox for one more hour, I'm going to lose my dang mind. Get one of those college kids into your school to work three hours a day, and that three hours a day is there to help the teachers make those end of year whatevers they're making for the parents. Because we know, I know, you know, that there are parents who wait all year until their child is in Miss Victoria's room because in Miss Victoria's room, they get those fence pickets that are posted that are painted like snowmen that are the height of their child and oh my gosh, oh, they just can't wait. Okay, Miss Victoria's having a day. And so if you have an assistant who is not bonded to any of the kids and is not going to be like, oh, I'm not going to go in Victoria's room, that will go in there for three hours and work on either plan with the kids or making those fence pickets that is going to make your program run better.

Carrie (00:17:26) - I'm not saying hire a full time person, three hours a day. Have somebody who is new to the program come in. If they work out great, you've got a summer staff person. If they don't, you had them there for a week and it will make everybody's life better.

Kate (00:17:44) - So the other thing you need to think about while we are talking about this is you've got all those goofy gifts, excuse me, all of those wonderful parent marketing tools. And so you have all of those, you have your own life. You have just the things that happen day to day and add it to the crazy schedule that your staff are going to have during this end of the year season. You also have the things that you need to do from a business standpoint. If you do not already hire this done, this is something you can hire done if you do not know how to make it happen quickly. So if sending the end of the year reports to parents is something you dread because it takes you multiple days, you're doing it wrong and you need to hire somebody or find somebody on staff who likes those things.

Kate (00:18:34) - I've also worked with directors who get so upset and stressed out that they just like, like they just can't get there and they procrastinate. Work. Yes, Carrie

Carrie (00:18:44) - Going to say, when you're when Kate is saying you need to hire it done. If this is something that's stressing you out, it doesn't have to be a person that is there at the center. You can export the files and it can be somebody. In Indonesia, it doesn't matter where they are. You give them a sample of what the report needs to look like. You download the CSV file and let them make it happen. You don't need to know the person

Kate (00:19:13) - It can be your bookkeeper. It can be your assistant director. It can be a lead teacher with an extra couple who needs a couple extra hours because it's Christmas and they want some extra Christmas money. Yeah. You know. Oh, and that's okay. That is one of those things that drives me crazy. So this is also that time of year where you're going to have parents or staff who are going to ask you for a raise, or they're going to want more money.

Kate (00:19:34) - But yet in that same sense, they're busy and they need time off. So stay on top of what holiday time and what people PTO have and don't have. Follow your standard operating procedures for asking for time off.

Carrie (00:19:51) - Absolutely, absolutely. Without a.

Kate (00:19:53) - Doubt. Get personally invested. And somebody being so upset because they forgot to tell.

Carrie (00:19:59) - That they needed off so that they could go to the Cookie Exchange. The cookie Exchange will happen whether or not your staff member is there. The kids will exchange their cookies. It is fine. You don't have to. We want to be. We want to be flexible with our staff. But within the boundaries of your policies, the policies don't go out the window just because you have a few fewer kids because it's Christmas break. All right.

Kate (00:20:29) - So let's come back to policies. We were talking earlier about Carrie having a Christmas gathering with her family. And I know because Carrie and I know each other, that Carries got family that sometimes have different food allergies or food preferences.

Kate (00:20:45) - And that's a policy, right? Like we want people to follow the rules. So in addition to the location and the meal planning and the meal prep and the orders and the and the figuring out how everybody gets there, there is the how do we entertain people? And of course, the big day, whatever that might look like. Right. So what parts of that get delegated? Is it always the same?

Carrie (00:21:15) - No. And again, it has to do with how old the participants are. We don't have anybody who's going to be going with us to Christmas this year who is under the age of ten. So everybody is in double digits. And so what you do when you've got a whole bunch of three and fours versus what you do when everybody's in double digits is a little different. And so we've been doing White Elephant and Secret Santa, and sometimes the Secret Santa is a present and sometimes it's a Secret Santa stocking stuffing. I don't know how those decisions are made. I let the people who care about that talk about it, and then they tell me what we're doing, and I'm like, great, who do I buy presents for? Like, um, I.

Kate (00:22:04) - Mean, my post-it note with the answer.

Carrie (00:22:06) - Yeah, I just need to know who I'm doing. And some years my sister in law who runs the White Elephant, will take other stuff into the white elephant. And other years she has pulled together 30 different things for White Elephant over the course of the year. I don't know which one it is. This year she's moved twice, so my guess is she has a fair amount of white elephant things because she has found them as she's unpacking boxes. But then we also have, like the parents of the youngest children, make sure they bring things for the youngest. The youngest children can lose immense amounts of time in. So that's been different things, different years. Um, there was definitely a roadblocks couple of years when everything was roadblocks all the time. But there have been years when it's football. There's been years when it is playing various different card games, movies. There have been lots of different things over the years, but other people bring stuff.

Carrie (00:23:07) - But the parents of the youngest children bring stuff they know will work for those youngest children, and then the rest of us bring stuff like jigsaw puzzles and maybe toys that the kids may not be familiar with. And we have started doing a very odd thing, which is table reading of mystery plays. And it was brought by somebody who was not one of the theater nerds, which I think is hilarious. The first time it was brought was brought by a nurse, and the nurse brought it, and we did an Agatha Christie play, and now the kids and a lot of the non theater people are all about what play are we going to read this year? So I, I don't know the answer to that and nobody's asked me. So I'm hoping it's not my job.

Kate (00:23:55) - But then other people it party other people who are part of your program also if they're going to delegate, they let you know sooner rather than later. So again, if you are a director, it's important for you to have that conversation with your family, maybe any other association.

Kate (00:24:12) - Because if you're a director, you might have children, so you might have some school functions that you might be expected to help out. So again, ask people early on if they are thinking they're going to need your services. So again, if you are keeping track and from the beginning of the podcast. So now you should have a few things on your list that you need to do tomorrow. And that includes checking with your staff and your parents to find out when they're going to be gone. You're going to check with your or your family and associations that you are involved in to make sure that you know your own schedule. Right. Has anybody planning to delegate to you? Yeah.

Carrie (00:24:49) - Well, and also, if you have faith based requirements, requirements, obligations, are you planning on going to to festivities at your faith organization? Those should also go on to that calendar. Figure out what your responsibilities are. Delegate what should be delegated and tell people no telling people it is hard and it is harder for some people at this time of year than at other times of the year because they're like, but Christmas should be magical, or Hanukkah should be magical or whatever.

Carrie (00:25:25) - The end of the year should be magical, and it's not going to be magical for you if you're doing everything for everyone, and you will come to resent it. Ask me how I know.

Kate (00:25:37) - There's a reason why Carrie runs off to other parts of the other parts of the world, and so I'm going to suggest that with this, if you do find yourself ending up with an awful lot of things on your schedule, this is also a great opportunity for you to go. You know what I think New Year's Eve or the following week, January 8th, I'm going to take off a weekend and go do something for yourself. So again, yes, on some levels I'm asking you to put something else on your calendar, but it's because we love you and we want you to take care of yourself. And you know, if you're at the same time planning some awesome trip in February with your significant other, or just a massage spa facial day nails, toes, pampering day for yourself in January

Carrie (00:26:28) - Go watch a stupid movie. There's always stupid movies at the beginning of the year. I don't know what they are, but there will be some stupid movies in January. They know that we need stupid movies in January and so they give them to us.

Kate (00:26:43) - Or it could just be all those fun Thanksgiving Christmas movies that you didn't get around to watching because you were too busy. So, you know, make sure that, you know, and the one last one is if you've started traditions or things that people expect as traditions in your program, make sure you follow through because the word gets around and people have expectations. Carrie talked about the the the snowman fence post that was the same height as your child. If for some reason that teacher is not there anymore, or they're having a day or a week or a month, make sure that that continues to happen. If there are some classes that have always done the the same kind of gift and they're going to do something different this year, you know, you might just double check and make sure if you think that's actually the smartest move, and just make sure that if you've got your own family traditions, that you've taken an opportunity to support you and your family and your family traditions.

Kate (00:27:37) - So if you're like Carrie, you get to go to take a trip. Awesome. If you're like me and you just get to have shrimp on New Year's Eve, we hope that you have an awesome holiday season.

Carrie (00:27:46) - I have one more thing want to throw out there. If you do not have any traditions at your school and you want one, I'm going to suggest there is a Disney short that is called Prep and Landing. It is under the one hour threshold. Um, and so that being something that kids watch the last part of the day, the last day that they're in school before your holiday break works really well, um, because the kids don't get to watch movies very much at your school anymore. Um, and so prep and landing is short. It's hilarious. So I'm going to give you that as a possible holiday routine at your school.

Kate (00:28:27) - Awesome. Well, you guys have a great afternoon and we will see you all next week.

Marie (00:28:32) - Thank you for listening to Child Care Conversations with Kate and Carrie.

Marie (00:28:37) - Want to learn more? Check out our website at TexasDirector.Org and if you've learned anything today, leave us a comment below and share the show!