Heidi Brandt opened her own childcare business in 1994, Heidi’s House, and has been caring for and teaching children in her home ever since. She currently has 27 children between infancy and 12 years old enrolled in her program.
What makes a good childcare provider?
You have to have so much patience and tolerance and organization. I have to mention my extremely loyal and fantastic staff, too. They have both been with me for more than 15 years. We are a well-oiled machine.
What is a misconception about the work?
Someone calling you a babysitter. This is definitely not babysitting. We are greeting children in the morning, serving breakfast, helping every child with daily living skills and personal hygiene, seeing children off to school. We have a preschool lesson that we do and we have our field trips. We use a lot of shoe leather in the village. We stay very, very busy.
We have a community-service project every month that the children are involved in, because they live here. We need to be invested in our community. Whether it’s collecting dimes for the March of Dimes or collecting used sneakers for the Heart for Downs, or the soda tabs for St. Jude’s. If there is something in the community for the children, I’m all about it.
Does the job provide a good work/life balance?
My commute is very short. I’m always home for my children, but sometimes my house does close in around me. But my family is so used to it, that it’s just our life. The daycare is our life. My husband and family are first. The daycare is a very close second.
What makes for a really good day?
Nice weather. No pee-pee accidents. Every day is a good day. I get to play all day every day. You have these little hiccups in between, but they’re just hiccups. They’re children and they’re learning.
A bad day?
Frigid cold temperatures. Rain. Children just not feeling well. Not necessarily sick, but just not feeling well.
Of course, there’s no sick days when you’re doing childcare. Knock on wood, I have such immunity to everything. I rarely get sick, and the staff, too.
How has the job changed since you started?
The rules and regulations mostly. Anyone coming in new to this would look and say, “How do you do this?” They’re very rigid, mostly for the protection of the child. There are so many things that are mandated from the state that it would be very hard for just one person to run a program.
Children don’t change. Parenting changes. Now that there has to be a dual income, you have a lot more dads involved in drop-off and pick-up.
Do you see yourself at the same job ten years from now?
I do. How do you stop? Do you stop when this infant that you just took in is nine years old and they still need you? And then you say, “I’m not going to take any more babies,” but then this child’s mom is going to have another baby, so you’ll take that baby to keep the family.
How’s the pay?
It’s very nice that as a provider you’re also a small-business owner. Being a small-business owner for anyone is a huge achievement. You’re running a business. I certainly can make my family comfortable while supporting my staff.