Kenyans have watched unfolding horror stories on TV as house helps and nannies abuse or even kidnap little children who are left in their care.
Some toddlers have been sexually abused and in some isolated cases, some have lost their lives.
Many urban families in Kenya have working parents who leave their homes as early as 5.30am and get back home as late as 7.30pm, thanks to endless traffic holdups on our roads, especially in major urban centres such as Nairobi and Mombasa.
As a family with young children, you might decide that the mother becomes a stay-at-home mum so she is available to take care of your children.
Many women fear the idea of not having a source of income and I don’t encourage that either. I encourage stay-at-home mums to explore ways to earn income from home.
There are many different ways that a stay-at-home mum can earn income from home working online, thanks to technology. There are also offline businesses that a stay-at-home mother can do from home.
I would like to explore the possibility of earning income from home by turning part of the space in your house into a play centre for little children and toddlers. You can provide childcare solutions for busy mothers and earn income in the process. This is a great way for a stay-at-home mum to get started in business.
Begin by registering your business so that you are able to operate legally in Kenya. A business name or enterprise is the most basic form of business. You may also register as a company limited by guarantee or a limited liability partnership, which you can do later as your business grows.
Ensure to have some free space to accommodate the extra children as a congested space is not conducive for children. You might need to store away some stuff in order to create space, preferably have a spare room devoted to the children. Some outdoor space is also very important.
Paint and decorate the room in colours and patterns that suit the ages of the young children. Invest in some toys, crayons, paper, small plastic chairs and a few small mattresses.
For the safety of the children, ensure that the toys and furniture are appropriate for their ages. Glass topped tables and cabinets that easily topple over should never find their way into the children’s space.
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Parents who leave their children with you should be able to feel comfortable about the place where their little ones spend their time.
Learn fun activities to keep the little ones entertained such as painting, childhood games, songs and stories.
Invest in some simple story books that are appropriate for that age so that you can be reading them for the little ones. Above all, put your heart to it so that the little ones get to enjoy your company.
Advertising and publicity
Start small and grow. Let the mothers in your neighbourhood and others in your circles such as family members and fellow church members know that you take care of little children. You can target those below school going age, five and below. As you grow, you might consider maintaining online presence such as a Facebook page, a blog, and an Instagram page.
You are starting a business not a hobby, and business should not only be professionally run but should also not get disrupted whenever something unexpected happens in your life. Plan for unexpected occurrences such as your unavailability due to illness or other commitments. It is important to have someone trusted who can stand in for you during such times.
You may consider training your house help to be your assistant. This can be a chance to grow in her career. Ensure your assistant is adequately trained in areas such as first aid, safety and childcare.
Also have a few reliable back up part time staff that you can call up in case you need extra help. Always take precautions when identifying people you can entrust with children. Demand for references and certificate of good conduct. Don’t focus on the quality of work only as you could jeopardise the safety of the children under your care and their families.
Keep in mind that children can be very trusting and can end up giving very important information to a person they spend their time with. You can’t afford to be careless when selecting staff to work in a daycare.
Satisfied clients are the key to your growth so go the extra mile to keep the children happy, entertained and healthy. Be cautious about safety, hygiene, the quality and handling of the food the little ones consume.
Hygiene and cleanliness are critical when it comes to taking care of children so never compromise on that. Some daycare centres give the option of children bringing their own snacks while others provide food and charge for it. Preparing fresh food is a great way to minimise risks of food poisoning.
Many parents are afraid when they leave their little ones with house helps whom they do not know that well while others need somewhere to leave their little ones when house helps leave without notice.
Daycare centres are in demand and there are families who would appreciate the service so do a good job and you will attract clients.
Plan long term
Plan long term since you are likely to expand as word spreads and more and more parents entrust their little ones with you. Many schools and daycare centres actually begin in residential areas and move to more suitable premises as they grow. A daycare centre has the potential to eventually grow to incorporate kindergarten services.