As a family child care provider, the well-being of the parents I provide services to is just as important as the children that I care for on a daily basis. Parents would often share how overwhelmed they felt balancing work, home and family. Having raised three of my own children, I could empathize with their frustration. I thought, what would have made raising my children a little easier? This thought gave way to Parents’ Night Out.
Parents’ Night Out is an opportunity for parents to spend an evening catching up on rest without having to worry about child care. I provide this free service quarterly to the parents of children 2 -12 years old that are currently enrolled. Children are allowed to sleep over Friday night through Saturday afternoon at my family child care home. During this time parents are encouraged to go out on a date, enjoy a movie or just catch up on much needed rest and relaxation.
Children benefit from this time away from their parents as well. During the overnight stay, all activities are child-centered. They help plan the evening and morning meals, play group games, select a movie (age appropriate) to watch, and participate in free choice activities with their child care mates!
Lots of planning and prep work goes into make the evening a success for both parents and children alike. I notify parents one month in advance of the event and I stress the importance of taking time to re-energize for their child’s well-being. This is especially important for single parent households. I develop activities with the children during the week before the event to help the children transition to spending the night away from home for the first time. Children are encouraged to bring their favorite toy, pillow, sleeping bag, or blanket.
It’s been twenty years since I began offering Parents’ Night Out and I am still amazed at the impact it has on the parents. They return less stressed and eager to know how their child enjoyed the evening. For me it’s just one more opportunity to continue supporting families in their parenting endeavors and what a privilege and joy it is!
This blog was written by Melody Robinson, owner of Parent’s Helper Home Daycare in Oak Park, IL.