7 ways to get your childcare space set up like a pro!

7 ways to get your childcare space set up like a pro!

Over on my YouTube channel and in my Facebook group, I’ve been sharing the 5 steps to take to set up your daycare. And this week is all about the physical set up of your space. I want to help you get your childcare space set up like a pro!

One thing we’re all guilty of – probably as women! – is that we LOVE to overcomplicate and overthink EVERYTHING. Here I’m giving you some simple tips and strategies. I’ve been using these for the last 15 years! So you can make the process as stress free as possible too!

Let’s get started, Ninjas!

Firstly: Make a list!

Before you go shopping or even look at toys or equipment you want to take time out to think about the vision for your daycare. What do you want to offer? What’s the feeling or “vibe” you want to create. Create a list or brainstorm the types of things you’d love to offer at your daycare. And then set up your space with that in mind.

For example, if you want to have the kids to have self time, then make sure to have some comfortable child sized furniture or seating. Think bean bags, oversized pillows and ultimate comfort where the kids can sit quietly with a book or a toy! If you’re looking to provide arts and crafts then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a table or easel, then somewhere to store the paint and utensils.

Knowing what you want to offer will help you spend wisely, rather than heading out and picking up anything that catches your eye. When you finally do go shopping you’ll be heading out with a defined list based on your vision for your daycare. You’ll know the activities and the atmosphere you’re intending on creating!

Make them feel they belong

Meeting the children’s basic needs means their experience and therefore learning is super important! Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows that it’ll help them grow!

It’s key that they feel they have a little safe spot. You could start off with hooks for their coats and bags, or maybe bins. Or you can invest right away with cubby holes and places to store their stuff. And it can be a great spot to put their nap time things like a sleeping mat or a blanket.

You can use their names to label them – really great to help early readers with name recognition. I sometimes use numbers for younger ones.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a scalable vector illustration on white background

Gross motor skill toys

Even if you don’t have an outdoor space, you can have a couple of little trikes or riding toys for the children to move around on inside. This is important as they’ll be beginning to develop their gross motor skills and want to learn to travel about in different ways.

In one of my facilities there’s no yard, so we have 5 or 6 riding toys parked up against one wall. The children know that once they’ve finished playing they have to park it back in the same pot. You could even tape or paint the floor and each toy with numbers so they can start to match them up! In my original home daycare I had a porch where the kiddos could park the vehicles and that kept them out of the way and tidy.

Having somewhere that’s easy for the children to access themselves safely makes your life easier!

gross motor skills trike

Quiet spaces

It’s really important that we create some cozy reading spaces or spaces where children can just sit and relax. After all, none of us wanna be go go go all the time, right?! I’ve got little sofas for the kids in all my childcare settings because I’ve seen how valuable they can be.

These do not have to be state-of-the-art, store-bought couches!! I got some of mine second hand from a day care that was closing down, and other times I’ve found them on eBay or Craigslist. More ideas here for setting up on a budget! You can always brighten them up with colorful blankets and throw cushions!

Sometimes it’s nice to have a little table in the center of the chairs where you can put a couple of books to give them an idea where to start. Or maybe a photograph in a frame to stimulate conversation.

Bring on the drama(tic role play!)

Kids learn through play and repetition so you need to have some fun toys for acting out real life scenarios. Ones they can play with over and over again! Over the last decade and a half I’ve found that a play kitchen always creates some brilliant play opportunities. You can theme the area to go with what you’re all learning about, or have it as free choice all the time.

The kids can play house or make believe that there’s a restaurant. Include some toy phones, plates and cups, and even a pretend laundry machine. Maybe add a little soft area too so they can make each other “coffee”, then sit and chat or make those all “important phone calls”! Haha! I’ve even had a broken old laptop that the kids have LOVED to “work” on.

Don’t feel like you’ve got to spend a fortune on new toys. Check out local listings from Doctors surgeries who are upgrading their waiting areas. I’ve picked up some great freebies for my daycares over the years! Also, top tip: Every time I get take-out with my family, I grab a couple of extra menus to stick in my dramatic play areas. The kids adore “cooking” things they like the look of!

dramatic play

Learning area

For any adult-led activities, you might want to have a child-sized table and chairs for the kids to work at. This might be a space to practice numbers of writing, but also model with playdoh or do some coloring. I like to create displays in this area that are traditionally “educational”. Have the alphabet and show letter formation up. I like having numerals printed on the wall in a theme we’re loving – Gingerbread men or unicorns or whatever!

Make sure you have a book case in that area where you can not only store resources for learning, but also books that the kids can access. I love having a front facing book display too so that they see more books and I can rotate them so more get read. Use a wire across a shelf, spice racks or pallets, or look for a second hand catalogue one on freecycle or similar. And when it comes to buying books, you can pick them up in deals at Barnes and Noble but keep a look out online for special author sales!


Infant spaces

It’s nice for the tiny ones to have a safe space to be where the older ones know not to go. Think about “fencing” a little section off with a cushioned mat, where you can settle babies and non-movers with appropriate toys. Once the babies begin to move, you can open up the gate of this area to allow them to explore more! It’s always so exciting when they’re on the move.

I love changing the infant area regularly so that they get stimulation and can explore a range of different resources. But try not to overwhelm the babies!

Remember: There’s no rush

Don’t forget that you do not have to have EVERYTHING to get started. You can add in toys and resources and equipment as you go, and as your budget grows. The above things are key pointers to get you started! As you get into a rhythm, you’ll find things just fall into place and the items you need suddenly come into your horizons! And things you thought you MUST HAVE turn out to be distractions sometimes, so don’t get sucked into buying EvErYtHiNg!!

I’d love for you to check out my latest YouTube video, where I gave a quick tour of one of my smaller facilities to show you how to quickly set up your childcare space.

Hopefully it’ll help you get a feel for how simple it can be!

If you want to hang out with like-minded and aspirational childcare business owners, come and get involved in the community over on Facebook! Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too. We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!

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Setting up your home childcare business for success!

Setting up your home childcare business for success!

Something I get asked all the time is “how do I go about setting up my home childcare business?!” And it’s not a simple question to answer by any means! However, I’ve got some tips and tricks from all my years of setting up multiple day cares that I want to share with you.

I wish someone had created a simple guide for me to follow back in the day, so I thought I’d fill that gap to support you in your journey.

Wave goodbye to overwhelm

bye overwhelm

When it comes to setting up your childcare business it could be very easy for the seemingly endless To Do list to get overwhelming. Before you know it, tasks are missed, inventory gets messed up, meal plans and ordering go crazy…How do I know?! Because I’ve been there, done that. I’ve learned the hard way so you don’t have to!

By following my 5 steps, you’re giving yourself a massive head start in the childcare game! Ditch the overwhelm and start taking simple steps towards success right now!

5 steps to setting up!

There are 5 steps to setting up your childcare – whether that’s a home-based daycare or a smaller center. These 5 steps that will give you a great foundation to start your new career with

  1. Setting up the actual childcare space.
  2. Setting up all your workflows.
  3. Managing daycare paperwork.
  4. Create your financial systems.
  5. Get automating!

Although I cover those five steps in this week’s Youtube video I wanted to share with you a little about each step here.

Getting your space all set up

This is the fun bit! I like to use Pinterest for inspiration. Creating boards of the different areas I need and what I’d love them to look like. Plan out what you can do in your unique space.

In case you’re stuck for ideas on this first step, have a read of this blog post I wrote about designing the space.

Figure out your workflow

This step is the key to success! Creating your own personal workflow for your days. This is separate from the daily routines you have planned for the kids! Setting up your personal workflow as the childcare business owner is going to help you feel less overwhelmed and keep things running smoothly in your business. The workflow helps you get into a rhythm too.

Trello is where my workflow goes, but I also love using my planner.  But it doesn’t really matter where you write it all down, the purpose is to help you get clarity on what tasks need doing and when you’re going to do them.

Will you plan to do your paperwork during the kids’ nap time? It’s good to fit in simple tasks you can manage to do in the same room as the children as they sleep. Or perhaps you’ll be planning your menu on a particular day during naps. Maybe on Fridays if you have movie time when the kids are leaving you can catch up on the week’s finances.

It’s about spending your time more wisely, having a plan and getting into a routine. Setting it up properly in the beginning will make a difference!

Managing the paperwork

The bit lots of you will be dreading, and it’s the bit I got all wrong in the early days… I had so many files and folders and I had no system to organize things. It was chaos! But once I nailed my own filing system and had somewhere designated to store them, things got a LOT easier!

You might want to keep paper records in binders or folders on a shelf in your office, so you have them to hand – especially handy for those inspection times! These ought to include all your official and mandatory daycare files (insurance etc); your staff and kids’ files; enrollment packets (I keep mine in a separate box); all your food files…

Nailing your financial systems

I’m always talking about systems, I know! But there’s a good reason why. They will save you from slip-ups over and over again! Systems keep you organized and on top of your game. What’s not to love, right? And when it comes to financial systems, you want to get them sorted as soon as possible.

Since I got all my finance systems fixed-up, I’ve been able to grow my childcare business empire beyond my dreams! None of my focus goes on overwhelm or worrying about how things are doing, because I know already! And you can have that weight off your shoulders too.

Automate your business

Being a childcare business owner is hard enough without having to do every single little thing yourself! So I’d highly recommend not skipping this step! Look at apps that’ll save you time or help you stay organized. Whether that’s apps to help with staffing or apps to make CEO life easier, use technology to grow your business.

When I first set up my home daycare over 15 years ago, I didn’t know about any of this stuff!! This meant that promoting my business was super hard. But it doesn’t have to be hard for you! Apps and technology for growing your biz are absolutely where it’s at!!

automate your business

Watch my YouTube video to find out more about each of these steps because that’ll help you create a plan! Which will get you working more efficiently and become profitable faster!

And be sure to grab my FREE checklist while you’re there.

Ok Ninja, no more worries! Every little thing is gonna be alright!


Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too! We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!

childcare ninjas logo 2020