Getting Clear On Your Professional Boundaries

educator wellbeing eylf family day care mental health personal care Jan 26, 2022

Being the owner of a family day care business is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be exhausting.

Like any leadership position, sometimes you can be put in situations where you need to make difficult decisions. Some of these decisions can feel even more complicated due to the nature of family day care and the close relationships that are built with families.

Fortunately, these decisions can be made a bit easier by establishing clear boundaries, which is something that I wish I had been more aware of when I first started up my own FDC business years ago. I had been wishy-washy on my expectations around late pick ups, and when I later tried to enforce my expectations (that my closing time was non-negotiable), it resulted in a parent yelling at me in my own lounge room! While at the time I was mortified and lost a lot of sleep, in hindsight it’s one of my most stand out FDC memories (not just because it was mildly traumatic, haha). It was such a definitive learning moment and I believe I am lucky that it was a lesson that I learnt so early in my FDC journey!

These days, I’m fully committed to reinforcing to FDC educators that they are in a position to take control of their professional boundaries.

You have the ability to set boundaries.

You are in charge of the vision, the values and the goals of your business.

You are able to decide what kind of behaviour is acceptable, and what is unacceptable.

You choose your families, and you can build the culture of your service.

What an empowering position to be in!

Some examples of healthy boundaries in your family day care context may include:

  • Having a clear, strong wellness policy that you and your families adhere to

  • Organising and taking time off to look after yourself and prevent burnout

  • Giving yourself permission to say 'no' to additional requests or unreasonable expectations

  • Establishing late or early fees, or ‘repercussions’ for unpaid accounts

  • Setting clear expectations around you’re opening and closing times

  • Not replying to non-urgent messages during unreasonable hours

  • Reflecting on your ‘deliverables’ - e.g. extravagant father’s or mother’s day gifts which cause you a lot of stress but go unacknowledged

It is also important to remember that it’s never too late to get clear on your professional boundaries. Karen (my fellow RB coordinator), had a ‘boundary breakthrough’ about 15 years into her FDC career! Prior to this breakthrough, Karen had accepted children into care who were not yet ready - which led to a lot of stress as she was setting herself up to fail. Babies who were still breastfed to sleep or co-slept were particularly challenging to have in care - how can you offer safe, quality care for all the children in your care if one little one is demanding your undivided attention?

It’s okay to say no.

Clarity on your boundaries and the ability to communicate them efficiently with the families and people who make up your FDC will help build the foundations for a successful and thriving business model.

Do you have firm boundaries which you are able to implement if need be?

What areas could you address to make them more suitable?

"Good boundaries, both those that help us manage ourselves and lead others, always produce freedom, not control."

- Henry Cloud