HOME DAYCARE DURING COVID
With the world starting to reopen we’re going to need places to send our kids – so what does a home daycare during Covid look like?
DISCLAIMER: NOTHING IN THIS BLOG POST CAN GUARANTEE A COVID-FREE HOME DAYCARE SETTING. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR LOCAL HEALTH UNIT AND GOVERNMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
As April turned into May, and then May turned into June, one thing became obvious: I’d have no choice but to open daycare back up during a global pandemic. The government had allowed home daycares to stay open the entire time and I had parents who needed me back open.
So I prepared to open!
Here’s an idea of what running a home daycare during Covid looks like, what policies and procedures I’ve put in place and how it’s been working out for us these last few weeks.
Before I could open our home daycare during Covid, I spent a day looking through the Government rules, local health units recommendations as well as the local home daycare provider Facebook groups to see what we would need to do. I came to one big conclusion: there were a lot of daycare providers who had changed absolutely nothing about how they were going about their day. If I’m honest, that made me super uncomfortable and I had to assess what I would and would not be comfortable with. On the flip side, the rules and regulations that licensed daycare centres are following seemed too strict for our home.
The ultimate conclusion I came to was that I was okay with my home being open to others somewhere in the middle.
While the strictness of my Covid policies may not make sense to everyone the truth is, there’s just too much we still don’t know for sure.
NEW POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Before our home daycare reopened, I created new policies and guidelines that anyone who is returning to daycare is expected to follow. This includes a waver stating parents understand the risks of returning.
Our new policies and procedures for home daycare during Covid include:
- Parental drop off on the front or back porch instead of inside the house
- Adults to wear masks during drop off and pickup if possible
- Only one parent/guardian at drop off – preferably someone who lives in the household
- A screening checklist is done at drop off, which includes a temperature check with an ear thermometer
- Stricter rules surrounding sickness policies
- More frequent cleaning schedule
Our new policies for home daycare during Covid do not include:
- Masks during the day. Three out of five kids are too young for them and almost our entire day is spent outdoors.
- Social distancing. Our house isn’t set up to allow social distancing between the kids, I cannot be in five places at once and I just consider our daycare kids as a part of our bubble.
In the past I’ve been fairly lenient in many ways with our sickness policies. I’ve allowed stuffy and runny noses, sneezing and coughing so long as the child is in good spirits. Fevers only had to have been gone for 24 hours to return.
With Covid they’re super strict for everyone’s safety and well-being. We’re only just beginning to learn how it’s transmitted and the long-term effects of having Covid and they don’t look great. Having strict policies in place helps to minimize any spread and it’s really hard with kids – and it’ll be really, really hard if things are the same heading into our next cold and flu season.
It was debated whether or not kids and their families should have to be tested before returning to daycare but I ended up deciding against it. Myself, my parter and the twins ended up getting one done (negative!) and it was so stressful and uncomfortable; I didn’t want to send those who weren’t showing symptoms into a building with people who were showing symptoms just for this. (Yes, there is also the argument that everyone should be tested since we know it can be carried without symptoms shown and I fully support it!)
Our new sickness policies include, but are not limited to:
- Absolutely no symptoms (cough, runny nose, sneezing included) being exhibited
- Temperature must be under 38 degrees Celsius
- No member of the household can be exhibiting symptoms
- Cannot have recently travelled outside of Ontario – this includes travelling to the cottage
Symptoms have to have been gone for at least 48 hours and/or proven not to be Covid related by a signed doctor’s note or Covid test to return to daycare.
I completely emptied and repainted while we were closed so I started from scratch when it came to setting up the playroom for reopening home daycare during Covid. I added back in:
- The Ikea Kallax shelf
- The Ikea play kitchen
- The Melissa and Doug Grocery Stand that I gave a makeover to
- Some higher up wall shelving
- The Ikea chair, mainly for me to sit in
We did not include:
- A carpet
- Pillows, cushions or kids chairs
- Kids table
Since opening, we actually haven’t spent very much time in the playroom. There’s usually a little bit of play while everyone arrives and we change diapers & apply sunscreen. There’s a little bit of play time before and after lunch frequently and again after nap.
For the most part we’ve been spending our time outside on the back deck instead! The back deck currently has:
- A Little Tikes playhouse + two stools
- A Little Tikes slide
- An Ikea kids picnic table
- A Little Tikes basketball net
- An outdoor carpet
I’m also actively looking for a Little Tikes or Step2 style play structure for the back deck to help offset not having playground to climb and burn energy on.
TOYS + BOOKS
With the new policies and procedures in place, toys took bit of a hit in the process of opening up our home daycare during Covid. There are minimal toys both in the playroom and outside, there are no books and there are no stuffed animals or puppets. I’ve also taken out almost all the wooden toys – wooden toys can’t be submerged in water and many of them can’t be wiped down with Lysol wipes either. Which is fine but with such a tight and repetitive cleaning schedule they’re hard to have out on a regular basis.
Toys that are on rotation include:
- Plastic toys that can be submerged in water (Animals, trucks…)
- Silicone toys (Squigz, Dena rainbow, Way to Play tracks…)
- Plastic food
- Buckets and plastic pots in various sizes
- Mega Blocks/Duplo
- Baby sensory balls and blocks
- Foam blocks
- Mr Potato Head
To help with the new cleaning regime, the play kitchen and grocery stand currently stay empty and the Ikea Kallax shelves only get filled to 1/2 or 3/4 capacity. They’ll get saved for days when we can’t head outside due to the weather!
Much the same, wooden toys and board books will make occasional appearances in the playroom.
GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
In the past summer would be mornings away from home, spent at playgrounds and splash pads. This year summer is looking like a lot of backyard play and none of the above. Our playgrounds are still closed and while the splash pads are open there’s no guarantee that there’d be room for us to play once we arrived.
We’ve also had to make adjustments to our activities to be a safer home daycare during Covid. Basically, no activities that could encourage the sharing of saliva.
- No shared sensory bins/trays
- No shared water play
- No shared messy play bins/trays
- Individual bubble blowing
What we can do:
- Sprinkler play
- Individual activities (play doh, personal sensory trays)
- Neighbourhood walks
- Bubble machine bubbles
Our Ikea Flisat table is definitely feeling neglected these days.
As far as food and drink goes almost nothing has had to change. It was rare for us to do many shared plates but now we absolutely don’t do them. To help reduce snack stealing that typically happens when you have multiple toddlers in one place, I ordered more Skip Hop Snack Cups that we love. I choose these ones over other ones because of the lids – if we do go somewhere, like on a walk, they can be tossed into a backpack without worries of spillage.
Cleaning is a huge part of opening a home daycare during Covid. I already did a lot of cleaning without a pandemic happening, so now it can feel like cleaning overload at times.
Daycare happens on the main floor of the house, the back deck and the twins bedroom upstairs. So these are the areas I concentrate on the most.
A full day’s cleaning schedule includes:
- Sweeping after every meal
- Mopping the floor after lunch and after dinner
- Washing the dishes and back sliding doors during nap and after bedtime
- Sanitizing door knobs, baby gate handles, my phone and doorways multiple times a day
- Sanitizing the playroom furniture, dining room table and chairs and kitchen counters twice a day
- Washing and sanitizing the toys at least once a day. If I’ve had to remove toys from mouths frequently then twice a day.
- Crib linens (sheets, sleep sacks, loveys) get thrown into the wash every night
- House gets sprayed with a Lysol mist once a day
I wash with a double strength vinegar cleaner and sanitize using a Lysol spray and cloth. The floors get washed with the same vinegar cleaner and then sanitized with a lysol concentrate cleaner. Linens get washed on the sanitize cycle and all dishes and water bottles get washed in a hot, soapy wash.
If you’re wondering if what you have in the house will work for your cleaning and disinfecting needs, you can check out the Government of Canada’s list of approved cars surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers h e r e.
So, how is it working out?
It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
We’re on week number three now and I think we’re all starting to get a little bored of the back deck and I’ll need to start getting a little more creative with our activities.
The constant cleaning is exhausting but it’s starting to feel normal. I’ve found a way to schedule out everything I need to get done and that helps immensely.
Do I miss pre-Covid daycare times? Sure, I think all of us do. But at the end of the day I don’t have a choice and this is what life is right now. So running a home daycare during Covid it is!