This past year has forced us to overcome obstacles we could have never imagined. Pre-COVID-19 Little Lambs was on track to have 32 child care programs across Hastings County! Thirty-Two programs!!! After establishing ourselves as "the little agency that could" in 2017, the next three years saw remarkable expansion. However, March 2020 and the fallout created from the pandemic and subsequent provincial lockdown impacted our agency and our educators.
Home is our safe place. It's where we live, where we hold our loved ones, and where we find comfort. With so many unknowns concerning COVID-19, many of our child care providers permanently closed their doors. As the founder/director of Little Lambs, I was heartbroken to be losing these programs. Each woman who closed her doors was someone I admired, respected and appreciated, not only for the service she provided but for the person she is. Home is our safe place, so while saddened to be losing them as Little Lambs educators, I fully respected their decision.
Insert Les Brown motivational quote here, or any other "go with the flow" mantra. Not being able to plan, have stability, or any sense of normalcy threw everyone for a loop. It's stressful to lose all sense of control. Eventually, though, a silver lining appeared in the midst of our chaos. There became a balance between work and home life. More time to spend with the people who matter the most, more time to get outside and enjoy nature, more time to read, more time to study, and more time to connect with our educators who kept their doors open. More time=more personal.
As a community-focused child care business, Little Lambs does not need to compete for the highest revenue, the biggest salaries, the biggest team or the fanciest office. Our vision is to increase the professional role home child care plays in the child care sector. Our purpose is to support our community. We do this by building up our educators, having respectful relationships with our child care families, and devoting our time to this purpose.
My time is valuable (and not in the context of money); it is valuable to me personally, my family, and this business. As the founder and director of Little Lambs, my mission is to lead Little Lambs from a place that feels right. Right to me is being, "Not too big and not too small," but just the right size.
Find below 5 reasons why maintaining a small business mindset is worth far more than further expansion could ever offer.
There's a level of care that comes from being personal. From knowing every name to knowing every need. Staying "just right" allows us to keep this level of care.
No multiple tiers of leadership, no boards of directors. No hassle. Just the way we like it.
We might say we have "business hours" but our providers know we're always available if they need us. Saturday morning, Friday night, 6am....I'm here. Thank you cell phones!
Our books are balanced. We do not need to push marketing efforts/dollars trying to grow to cover additional overhead costs. This time/effort and money is much better spent on our current programs.
There's a quote that says, "there are only 18 summers in childhood, what will you do with them?"
If you've made it this far, THANK YOU for reading, for following Little Lambs on this journey and for supporting small business.
2020 was not what any of us "planned," and 2021 continues to have its challenges, but I wouldn't change it. There have been; lessons learned, values entrenched, and mindsets shifted. There have been goodbyes and hellos. There have been memories made.
Wishing you and your family health and community
wife, momma, sister, daughter, aunt, friend and business owner ;)
Thank you for stopping by our blog page. Sit back, enjoy a cup of coffee or whatever you fancy and peruse our content. If you're a parent or a child care provider I hope you find knowledge in our content and inspiration to try something new.
As for me, my days may be busy but they are full. Full of smiles, hugs, laughs and typing….oh so much typing. Being an administrator of a licensed child care agency while also running a home child care business and did I mention going back to school…again... is not for the weak. It's a balancing act for sure but for me it's wonderful. I like to think I have ADHD mastered. This inability to sit still in one place, thinking of only one thought at a time is not for me. While I keep all the boring stuff organized I have an amazing team of women who make me successful. Let me tell you a little about them.
This ship would not stay afloat if it weren't for our RECE Home Visitor, Kim Rodger. Kim is a constant source of encouragement. She is ready and willing to go wherever I ask her, driving all over Hastings County to visit providers. Smiles are something she shares without hesitation and she brings a sense of calm with her wherever she goes (even when she seems frazzled lol). While her position is a ministry requirement the knowledge she shares is not. Many providers have commented how much they appreciate their monthly visits with Kim and how she treats them with respect while encouraging them to be their best. She also has the most adorable daughter whom I love to spend time with. Definitely a keeper and an asset to Little Lambs.
Little Lambs would be nothing at all if we didn't have dedicated home child care providers willing to partner with us. Some have been providing child care for more than 18 years and some have recently opened their homes. Whatever their level of experience they pour their hearts and souls into their "jobs". As an agency one of the ways I support these women is by organizing professional development opportunities. In June we partnered with Loyalist College for a full day of training. The topic for the day was "emergent curriculum and how to implement it's concepts in the home child care environment". However this day was so much more than "training". The women shared stories, tears and encouragement for each other (and me…not expected but very honoured). What I started by licensing as an agency has been made exponentially better by what these women bring. There is a true sense of community between the ladies. They often meet up with their daycare children for park visits. They share ideas and whatever's on a private facebook page. They have each other and that makes a whole world of difference. While as rewarding, fun, and all sorts of other adjectives that this job assimilates with it is also isolating. These ladies don't have co-workers to take over if they need a break or someone always there to chat with while working. The ability for them to create relationships with each other is lovely. This was an unexpected joy that came from licensing.
I cannot forget about our families. Big ones, small ones, silly ones and conservative ones. Families come in all shapes and sizes to which there is no mould or "norm". We love them and I'd like to think they love us. Day in and day out they place their most precious family members in our care. Their children become one of our own and add their own special wonder to our programs. Little Lambs started as my Private home child care business with only 5 child care spaces available each day. Now as an agency with many providers under our umbrella of care we offer 80+ child care spaces every day. Some even on weekends!
I have so many hopes for Little Lambs as we continue to grow and adapt to meet the needs of Hastings County. September marks the start of a new school year. For me it has always been the symbol of a fresh start, new goals, new opportunities and FALL (my favourite season). While the world around us changes from Lucious green to gorgeous hues of sunsets I can't help but contemplate these goals. They are simple really:
If you've made it this far (which I hope most have) I thank you. I am truly honoured to of been allowed into your lives. Whether as an agency owner, child care provider or friend I am always here.
Early Years at Home
When we refer to home we refer to a feeling of welcome, family, comfort and belonging. Licensed home child care offers the feeling of "home" with the benefits of early years pedagogy.