MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County.
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to Siobhan Richards. Siobhan is the and childcare provider at Almost Home Daycare in Grayslake.
Almost Home Daycare is an in-home daycare that caters to children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. Siobhan Richards is a mother to 4 children: stepdaughter 17 and sons 11 (who has Aspergers), 7 & 5.
What was the catalyst that started your business?
Trying to be a stay-at-home mom as well as being able to support my family. I was a nanny before I started a family so I took what I loved and what I wanted and melded them together. That way I was able to be home for all my kids and now that they are all in school I still continue to do this because I love what I do.
Has it been difficult to get your business up and running, while being a mom, managing a household, etc.?
Not really because usually, I cater to moms that have to go back to work so I feel like I have to balance my housework I have to do it in the evenings or nap time. I am still able to interview people in the evenings. Because I am a parent, parents tend to feel comfortable with me rather than with a center where you don’t really know what you’re getting in the form of childcare. I feel like starting up was simple. I started by caring for some friends kids who needed childcare. I kind of built up from that way. Now it’s basically word of mouth. Usually, the people that I bring in are friends of people that I already care for.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to be a mom and still provide for my family. I love snuggling on the babies, being with the kids, watching them grow. I enjoy the whole innocence of the child. I love being a daycare provider.
What do you do to recharge?
My husband is really great. He does give me some time to myself. I do like to garden in the summer. I like to cook and bake. I like to do some freezer cooking. It makes my life a little easier. Sunday is my cooking day and everyone in my family knows it so they know to stay out of my way. For my downtime, I spend most of it with my kids. I feel like they share their mommy for 50 hours a week. That little time that I get to be with them is treasured time.
What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is the kids. Being with them every day makes me want to do more for them. I always aspire to be a fantastic provider and to do more for parents. I want to offer the best care possible. I want people to be lined out the door because I want to be able to provide that kind of care but in a home environment. I don’t ever want kids to walk in a have it feel like daycare. I want them to be comfortable and to be in a loving home. My husband also inspires me. He has always been supportive of our business and he helps me on the way.
What is the most important thing you want our readers to know?
My goal is to provide quality childcare in a loving home environment. I understand that people might choose a childcare center for security reasons or what have you. I think a lot of home daycare’s get overlooked because they feel like at a home daycare their kid will sit in front of a TV all day eating Cheetos and they are not. They are getting stimulated they are having the experiences they should be having at an early childhood age. We do a play curriculum, but every play experience is a learning experience. Everything is based on your child’s needs and where their developmental level is. Parents also need to know that when their child is being watched by a licensed in-home childcare provider they are being modified by the state, they are checked, they have rules and regulations just like a center would.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part about home daycare is siblings. If you took them to a center your children would most likely not be in the same class. If you took them to a home daycare it is all integrated groups. So all the kids of all ages are integrated. I also enjoy the spontaneity every day brings. You just never know how every day is going to go. Every day is different regardless of which kids are here and every day brings its own little surprises. It’s so exciting with new parents with all the new things that kids learn. I like to help and offer parenting advice. Sometimes a new mom comes in and the baby is fussy or colicky but she’s never had that experience before. I like to be able to offer some advice, suggestions, or help. I’m really great at sleep training. I don’t do it by letting them cry it out. I teach them to fall asleep on their own by rocking them and getting them on a regular sleep schedule. I am also awesome at potty training. We do a boot camp where we train several kids of the same age together. It works so much better because they encourage each other.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Spending 50-55 hours a week with other people’s kids. I feel like sometimes my own kids tend to get the short end of the stick. My oldest has Asperger syndrome so we have his therapies in the evenings and a lot of the time parents are late picking up. While I like to be flexible and be as available as possible I think a lot of times parents will take advantage. Another disadvantage would also be our furniture is always trashed and we have to clean the carpets once a month but it’s par for the course. As far as pros and cons go, the pros outweigh the cons.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been in the home for about 10 years but I’ve been doing nannying and in the childcare field for over 15 years. My mother had an in-home daycare while I was growing up. I was born and raised in Capetown, South Africa so it’s a little different there as far as childcare. They call them day mothers which is really sweet.
How difficult was it to get your business up and running while still caring for your children and other responsibilities?
It wasn’t too bad. It started with friends and watching their kids then I put flyers around. We moved into our current home with doing daycare in mind. When we moved in we knew the layout was great so not a lot of rearrangement had to be done. Everything that we’ve brought into the house was with the daycare in mind. Like when we bought my son his train table we thought he would play for it for another year or two more but the daycare kids would play with it for many years to come. As far as building up the supplies and equipment to have a daycare it wasn’t too difficult because I already had the stuff being a mom. The daycare parents I have been extremely generous by bringing all the stuff that we use on a regular basis like paper towels.
by Rosemary Bridges
Rosemary is a mom who wears many hats. She is a working mom and has two little boys. Together with her husband, David, they set off to find adventures all over Lake County. Rosemary moved to Lake County from Chicago as a teenager and has been a resident for over 10+ years. Although the big city lights have a special place in her heart, the quiet suburbs won her over to raise her children in.
Disclosure: Almost Home Daycare is our featured Business of the Month. This series of features is part of a paid partnership with Little Lake County. If you are interested in featuring your own locally-owned business in our series please contact us.