ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie

Episode 180: From Overwhelm to Celebration: Making December Manageable in Childcare

December 12, 2023 Carrie Casey and Kate Woodward Young
ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie
Episode 180: From Overwhelm to Celebration: Making December Manageable in Childcare
Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast episode, Kate and Carrie discuss the challenges faced by childcare centers during December. They offer tips on managing staff leave requests, handling parents' payment concerns during closures, and planning holiday activities. Learn how to proactively plan, prioritize tasks, and move end-of-year reports to January to ease the workload. They also emphasize the importance of self-care for directors and celebrating staff. Carrie proposes delegating tasks, hosting team-building activities, and even hiring cheerleaders to boost morale. Kate and Carrie also highlight the value of having a parent volunteer to assist in organizing events. The key takeaway is to plan and make December manageable and enjoyable for everyone.

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Marie (00:00:01) - Welcome to Child Care Conversations with Kate and Carrie

Kate (00:00:06) - So it's December. The school year is rapidly coming to an end, and as business owners, we're business managers or business managers, we are overwhelmed. And you know what, Carrie? Last time I checked, those parents are probably a little overwhelmed too.

Carrie - Probably. And this is the time of year when we've got to juggle all of the staff who want Tuesday off and who want to be off. Can I be off for the entire time my kids off of school? And then we've got parents who tell us that they're going to be gone for two weeks and then show up in the middle of their two weeks. They say they're going to be gone.

Kate - Well, my favorite are the parents, who of course, don't want to pay because you're closed or they're going to be on vacation. What about that? So today we're going to talk a little bit about all those December. I'm going to go with mindsets because we have parents who come into December who as soon as December 1st rolls around, they are immediately overwhelmed because they've just finished Thanksgiving.

Kate (00:01:11) - And you know, you're the queen of how much can we cram into one holiday? Um, for those of you who don't know, carry for the last, what did you say? 35 years has done a minimum of three Thanksgivings each year. I did it for my first time this year, and I will never do it again. So,

Carrie - I mean, I only did five on one year. I only did that once. That was that was I was like, that's too many, that's too many.

Kate - Okay, I did three and was overwhelmed. So but we know that our parents are overwhelmed as managers and directors were overwhelmed because we've got all of the end of the year business things. Then we've got our personal things, and then we've got all of the holidays that happen in the month from Thanksgiving on. So regardless of what faith you are, chances are you've got a holiday component, the Holy Day component, thrown into all of that as well. So, Carrie, how do we help our directors go from overwhelm to I got this in the month of December.

Carrie (00:02:19) - Well, first off, we move the end of year reports for all of the parents to January. We just go, that's not a December thing. I don't need to do that in December. I'm going to do that in January. And we help our staff to manage their own monkeys in that. One of the things that is not the director's job is to run to Home Depot the last week that you have classes because a teacher decides they want to do the fence post Christmas present, and they've got a kid who today is their last day. So they are like, I need you to go to Home Depot so that we have it for that child who today is their last day before the break. No, no, no, they're poor. Planning does not make it a crisis for you. So I think reminding staff and again, we're already halfway through December. So if you haven't reminded staff yet, remind them now that they need to plan for what they're going to do as the classroom presents for the teacher, for the parents, and every classroom should have one.

Carrie (00:03:25) - If the teachers are doing it independently, I'm going to do the yarn thing. I'm going to do the reindeer foot. I'm going to do all of the different things. Then that's fine. Or if you have a policy that is the infant room does this thing every year for any of your gifts for parents and the toddler. One classroom does this thing, and then you should have already ordered all of those supplies, and the teachers should know what they're doing. So whether you're in charge of coming up with the craft supplies or the craft idea for the end of year gift, or whether the teachers are those supplies should already be ordered. And if they're not, please pause this pod cast right now. If you're driving, send yourself a voice memo saying, first thing I do when I get to the center is I have to place those orders, because that is a huge issue, is when we're doing that at the last minute, and that just makes us all feel crazy. So whoever's job it is to get those supplies ordered, they need to own that monkey.

Carrie (00:04:24) - If it's you, you need to own the monkey. If it's somebody else, make sure they know they own that monkey and what their deadline is.

Kate - Okay, so if today is your first time ever listening to us and you have never heard, and you are sitting here trying to figure out what in the world is a monkey? In the show notes, we will list several of our different Monkey Management episodes. You can find out more about monkeys in our book from overwhelm tpDo I got this? I think it's like chapter four. We are all about Monkey manager. Chapter five. Chapter five I just taught this. I just taught and people were very much like, oh my God, chapter five changed my life. And I'm like, okay, so. So, you know, we're all about helping you manage your own monkeys. And one of the things and I love the way you said that, first of all, the director's role is to help the staff. That is awesome. The next thing I'd really like to just say with that is, as a director, giving yourself some grace, we want you to enjoy the next couple of weeks.

Kate (00:05:23) - And if it's not on fire and somebody not getting hurt, cannot wait till the first week of January because absolutely, you know, makes make time for you to spend time with your family, make time for your staff to spend time with their family, but not at your expense. So, you know, they're not there. Their staff, their kid functions are not a priority over your kid functions. And remember that not all of your staff are probably going to have kid functions, so remember that as well, right? Make sure that the staff who are single don't feel like, hey, so-and-so got three mornings off because her kid had, you know, yeah, you know, make sure you've got some space in there so that everybody gets an opportunity to be celebrated. And we also want to make sure that you remember to celebrate your staff.

Carrie (00:06:26) - Yeah. I would say, you know, my first thought was the craft project craziness. I guess the first thought was don't do the reports until next year. The second thought was the supply craziness, but I think those are both reactive. Both of those are thoughts that are reactive thoughts. What is the better place to be as the director is proactive. So if you're starting to feel the holiday stress, that is a sign that you need to take a step back, block out a little bit of Tiger time again. If you don't know what that is, just go read the book, but block out some time when you're in a quiet space. And if that means you have to go on a walk, go on a walk and go. What are the top three priorities that need to get done in this amount of time, whether that's today or this week? If you're starting to feel stressed, then that means you're going to make poor decisions because you're being reactive. What are the priorities? If the priorities are that you have an end of year holiday party, and that is part of how you are marketing to your existing clients to make your existing clients be like, wow, this is a great center, then make that the priority.

Carrie (00:07:30) - And what can you let be somebody else's responsibility? Or you can let wait until a less hectic time of the year to deal with. If it is staff who want time off to go to an end of semester thing at their child's elementary school, or, you know, their child's awards luncheon at the high school because they are recognized as the sportsman of the year for the basketball team or whatever wrong season. Well, basketball anyway, there is basketball happening right now, but it's not the end of the basketball season. Okay, so the end of the football season. So maybe there are football. Maybe I don't know when the end of gymnastics, but whatever. There might be some sort of event that the staff are like I need off for that. That does not have to be the director's monkey. That can be that staff person's monkey, because our enrollment numbers are lower and they can talk to other people on staff about combining classrooms or about somebody who's in a classroom that normally has 22 kids, but right now has 12 saying, hey, can you step out of your classroom and into my classroom for this two hours so that I can go watch my kid get their letterman jacket or whatever? The thing is, right? The teachers can have those conversations with each other and then just tell you, hey, I just want to let you know that Loretta is going to be covering my class.

Kate (00:09:01) - Okay? And let this. So I think that's a big part. Absolutely agree. But I mean, we've got directors who've never, ever delegated that yet. So this is not that. If you've not already done some of this, this may not be the season for teaching. It would be a great season to reflect. So if you are a director and you are feeling overwhelmed with everything that's going on because mean seriously, we can rattle off probably 20 things that have to happen in the perception of a preschool program the month of December. And so I'm just going to put a quick shout out that if you have a phone or any sort of scheduling device, it could be a Franklin planner. Go to the month of November 2024. And today, on November 1st, I want you to write plan for December. So we are going to be the ultimate and proactive and. And instead of getting so overwhelmed by maybe feeling that your staff are out of control, that the parents are out of control, that the kids are out of control, that everything just seems to be too much.

Kate (00:10:12) - Go be a little proactive right now and put that on your to do list for for next November. So. So we talked about we know that billing can happen that first or receipts can happen the first week of January. We are strongly encouraging you to delegate picking up those emergency craft supplies back to the staff. We've talked a little bit about celebrating your staff and your parents, kind of with some end of the year, um, some sort of an event. And remember, none of these have to be you're not being graded. You know, remember that this is something that's supposed to be fun. So for your staff, that's pizza. Have pizza for lunch one day. And just make sure that they know that you appreciate them. If it's your parents have some spaghetti. Get it catered. You know, it's like if you've never done something like Olive Garden Catering, I mean, it's so easy and you get so much food. Okay. So

Carrie (00:11:16) - absolutely I will recommend that. Or, you know, my Gino's that's, you know, if you want to take it up another notch. That's a local place here in Austin. But one of the things that we can do to improve our program long term is those things for our staff during this time of year when we know that they're going to be stressed. But again, you're part of the staff, so you should also be feeling catered to and recognized. So the sending out to parents, hey, if just to remind you, this is where you can find the wish list or the appreciation list for all of the staff. And of course the director and the administrative staff are at the top of that list. And then the classroom staff are underneath it, um, so that they remember maybe they might not remember you, but you have a better chance of them if you're at the top of the list. Yeah, if you're not on the list, if you're not on the list, nothing's happening. Yeah. Nobody's nobody is bringing you bags of lint, chocolate truffles. If your name isn't on the list with the lint, chocolate truffles and catering in some food is a great thing to do for your staff, and doing it a little different than you normally do.

Carrie and Kate (00:12:28) - So if you normally do Papa John's pizza, order it from a different pizza place. So it's just a little bit different if pizza's what your staff love to have catered in, if they want other Italian food, bring that if you want. If there is a tamale lady and you know the tamale lady, Kate is clapping her hands because a tamale lady is a priceless thing. Knowing a tamale lady who will bring you three different kinds of tamales and all of the side things, you know, you've got to have your pico de gallo. You got to have no, no, we don't need we don't we don't need no stinking plan. We do, we do. We don't need to have rice and beans, but we need to do need to have crema. And we need to need to have cheese. And we need to need to have pico and hot sauce. Okay. So you need to eat your tamale with a fork. No. Well then how do you mean? Sometimes you dip it, you dip it.

Carrie and Kate (00:13:23) - Okay. Well, you know, I'm a Yankee guy. She doesn't know she's a Yankee. She don't have time to dip it. It's gonna go right in. It's right in. But for those do the there's also,

Carrie - you know, having Chinese food come in and then there's like 12 different kinds of Chinese food. And everybody just gets a little of everything, you know, do something fun and different for your staff. Um. Have a day when you close early. Were you close at 3:00? But the staff still get paid until six and have a party from 3 to 6. Then the the staff aren't having to find extra babysitting for their kids because they already had that covered until 6:00 and you get to have a party there at the school. And I will tell you the amount of excitement your staff will get if you buy a pinata and let them beat up on a pinata, which I know is not an end of the year thing. But boy, do the staff get excited by beating up a pinata, especially in a stressful time of year.

Carrie and Kate (00:14:28) - And inside the pinata could be post-it notes and highlighters and things like that, as well as candy. Chocolate. What do you do? Away, I said, as well as candy, some candy and some teacher supplies. Those gel pens that the teachers go crazy for. Put a couple of those up the pinata. It'll be great. Okay, that sounded like such an interesting statement. Up a pinata. Okay, so that's how you do it, but I'm just so.

Kate - Okay, so what Carrie's really saying is that you need to find a tamale lady in a. And do an exchange. And then you need to. You need to hire that mariachi band. And you need a pinata. And you need to put pains in the pinata. Nothing goes up a pinata. No.

Carrie - Okay, so now that I've got Kate laughing to the point where she's incoherent, you know what I'm saying is figure out things that you can do that are fun and different. Yes, we want to give people gift cards to their favorite self care place and stuff like that.

Carrie (00:15:32) - Whatever your end of year gift, if you do end of your gifts for your staff. Yes, go for it. Do those. But the end of your gifts are usually something that they do away from you. And I want you to do something that is a team building thing. And I'm not saying that we're going to play trust games. I'm saying we're going to have some fun together at your center or off site. If that works better for you. And it could be the Secret Santa thing. There's so many options. My brain is just very excited by this concept right now.

Kate - If you aren't sure about options like Carrie said, there are, you can go on to Amazon and you can find or Pinterest, right? You can find Minute to Win It Christmas version. You can find Christmas trivia. You can find Christmas trivia as jeopardy! Already made. You don't have to make them yourselves. You can watch some Christmas movies, do hot cocoa, everybody get in their pajamas and just have some genuine fun.

Kate (00:16:33) - Or you can go out and do Topgolf, axe throwing, anything, you know, paint, paint and drink and all of the wine and paint or whatever those are. Um, so but again, we want you to have a good time. So if what you're planning is so stressful for you, then take a pause, think about it and reflect and figure out maybe what's a better option. Okay, so if you get all stressed out listening to us talk about some ideas that just sound like they would be a lot of fun, and you're just like, I don't have the bandwidth. Well, first of all, that means you've got more monkeys than you need. And second of all, just order the pizza. Just, you know, don't. Gift cards are great. I love a good I love a good gift card. But make sure that there's something more. And even if that is something as simple as the tamale parking lot exchange or ordering pizzas, just everybody. I just had another.

Carrie (00:17:27) - I just had another random thought which was cheerleaders are available for rent. And so if you called up one of the local cheer squads, whether it's at the middle school, high school, elementary school, or one of the gyms where they train kids to be cheerleaders, they make little people cheerleaders they don't have. Yes, I know, like I said, or those schools that have the I meant like the gymnastics schools cheer squad, those kinds of things call and be like, hey, can I have some kids come and do cheering for my staff on insert day after the school district closed and before you guys close and have kids of whatever age come in and do cheering for your staff. And actually, I know there's some grandma cheer squads too, and that might be hilarious. Regardless, I think having somebody come in and cheer for your staff might be a really fun and unusual thing to do here at the end of the year, and it's a great fundraiser for that cheer entity and doesn't cost you much.

Kate (00:18:35) - Nope. And this is a great time. Just as we're kind of wrapping up today's episode, think about whether or not you've got classroom parents. If you've got a school parent, somebody who is a parent, who you get to go to and kind of delegate some of this stuff to, who you give the list of what all of the staff like that include you and make sure that there's somebody else kind of you're right, your right hand parent guardian who can be there to kind of help you rally the parents. So you're not the one doing it all the time. So carrie

Carrie - and if you don't have that yet, if you don't have that yet, get it in place before April and week of the young child. So but put that in January. If you don't have a put that as a January to do, don't try to go get you a parent board in December. Not a good time. All right.

Kate - So Carrie, we are almost done with the year a couple of weeks left. What is your word of advice for the directors listening to today's episode?

Carrie - Take a little bit of time away from your office and away from the classrooms to reflect on what needs to be done before the end of the year to make your program better and be proactive, not reactive.

Kate (00:19:52) - Awesome. That's what I would say, y'all. We are. So what about you joined us. And if you listen to us on a. Streaming service. Make sure that you subscribe. Make sure that you do a review. We can't wait to see you as we got, I think one, maybe two episodes left this year, so we're always looking for additional topics.

Carrie - If you like this show, please share it with your friends and send us comments questions. If you send us a question about this episode, I actually have a free present for you. So if you send a question or comment about this particular episode to Carrie@TexasDirector.Org I have a training on a stress free holiday, so love to see it. See you next week. Bye!

Marie (00:20:39) - Thank you for listening to Child Care Conversations with Kate and Kerry. 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.