Why Should My Daycare Provider Get Paid Time Off?

I hear it all the time- online, in interviews, in mom groups- parents complaining because their provider took a scheduled vacation day- Paid time off. The parent has to find alternate care, but they still have to pay daycare.

“It’s not fair!” They say.

“If they aren’t providing the service, why should I have to pay?”

“I don’t get paid time off- why should they?”

OK, so perhaps you don’t get paid time off when you have to stay home with your child.

However, there are plenty of working families who do. In fact, most people who work a career, get paid time off. And let’s face it- you want a provider who sees her job as a career, not a temporary working situation.

should daycare providers get paid time off?

I digress… So you don’t get paid time off, and your provider wants paid time off. You don’t feel that’s very fair. Now, the mom in me wants to say “fair is a place where you ride rides and get cotton candy. Life isn’t fair.” However, this is your livelihood, your child, and the person you trust to help raise your child. So your concern is understandable.

However, here is a list of “perks” that you most likely get at your job, that your daycare provider doesn’t get:

  • Overtime
  • Lunch Breaks
  • Adult interaction
  • To pee in private
  • Drink coffee- while it’s still hot
  • A 401k

So here is the deal:

We know that when we take time off work, it inconveniences you. We know. For our family, when we go on vacation, I am well aware that I have 5 other families who now have to take time off to compensate for my fun. Guilt doesn’t cover it. I used to hate planning family vacations, for the sole reason that I didn’t want to tell my parents that I’m taking time off.

Should your daycare provider get paid time off?
Yes, your kid is adorable and we adore them. But just like you, we need a break too.

In fact, to be perfectly honest, I don’t take my vacation’s paid because of it. I do, however, take major holiday’s paid. And after 4 years of running a family childcare home, I finally gave myself a few sick days in my contract.

This is why you should cut yourself some paid time off:

  • You value yourself. As a childcare provider, mother, wife, and woman, you have value. You have an important job which demands a lot, and as such, you need to practice self care. Part of practicing that self care is the ability to take time off to reconnect with yourself and your family.
  • Because you value myself, it’s OK for you to demand that others, particularly your clients, value you too. This means feeling confident when you hand out your yearly handbook with vacation days and paid policies written out. (Side Note: I am that rare unicorn of a childcare provider, because I have amazing families who I get to work with, and I count every single mother as a friend, and every child as one of my own. We respect each other and I have no complaints or the need to assert myself. I just hate confrontation in general.)
  • You value my body. When I was pregnant with O, I came down with a cold, which turned into a cough, which turned into an 8 week battle with bronchitis. I was exhausted, racked with braxton hicks, sleepless and very very sick. Not once in that 8 week period of time did I take a single day off. I worked through it, much to my detriment. Because I not only didn’t want to put my families out, but also because I didn’t want to deal with the financial repercussions of taking a day off because let’s face it- babies are expensive. If I had given myself paid sick time in my contract, I would have taken it, and healed much faster. Value your body and health enough so that in that rare circumstance where you are ill and need rest, you can take it with confidence.
  • You value your Job. It seems like a contradiction- but I believe most moms understand- we are better parents when we have time to fill our own cups. We have this amazing, beautiful honor of shaping and raising your children, and we don’t take it lightly. We want to do it well. But it’s nearly impossible to pour out of yourself when your own private cup is empty. We can’t be the “Mom who smiles” all the time, without taking care of ourselves, too.

Being a Good Childcare Provider and Practicing Self Care go hand in hand

That means, very frequently, paid time off. When you are constantly caring for tiny humans, you tend to put their needs first. And you should! The children rely on you for their center of safety. Their sense of confidence comes from your care of them. But it doesn’t mean you need to completely let yourself go, as a mom or caregiver. Kind of like I did.  Take it from me. Take time for yourself. And parents, respect the person helping raise your children and understand their need for self care. It just helps them better able to give your Littles the love and care they need.

What are your thoughts on paid leave for family childcare providers? Do you think you should pay for when your child isn’t in care? Or would you rather pay a higher rate and not have to pay for vacation time? As a provider, what is your policy? Tell us in the comments!

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Should my Daycare Provider get paid time off?



Lauren Lewis is no stranger to childcare development, having spent over 10 years as a nanny or family childcare provider. She’s the wife of a travel geek, mother of two vivacious children, and has an amazing talent for trailing lost things behind her a la Hansel and Gretyl. Her varied background in writing, child development, marketing, and enthusiasm for mess-making provided the perfect foundation for The Playground Chronicles. Her life is full of busy, crazy and LOUD. It is full of love and hope, ups and downs. And coffee, always lots of coffee- but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

More information and her work can be found at www.the-playground-chronicles.com


  1. Debbie

    April 27, 2017 at 1:22 am

    You are an independent business owner, if you went to a business and it was closed, would you pay them for the service you did not receive?

    1. Lauren Lewis

      April 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Debbie! I am not sure that this is the same thing- Firstly- a home daycare isn’t a store. It’s a service. Many services have scheduled days when they close, for the owners and the employees. These days are scheduled, just like a holiday, and the customers most likely are aware before hand. Second, typically these things are written in a per-arranged contract. So the families understand what policies are before they agree to send their child in home care. Its one of the few negatives to choosing an in home daycare, and in my (biased) opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives. But it is ultimately the parents choice whether that’s a deal breaker for them.
      why don’t we flip the switch. If you worked a job, 11 hours a day with no insurance, 401k, lunch breaks, etc, and received no sick or holiday pay- would you be happy there? Would you want to stay?
      If you have children, and you must leave them in someones care, don’t you want that person to be happy and enjoy the job of raising your children?

      1. Ev Sylvain

        May 1, 2017 at 6:21 pm

        Providers deserve much much more then they get!!! Most are not offered any kind of health coverage, 401k, dental, retirement, sick days, etc etc. You are paying for a slot in a childcare in most cases. If providers didn’t charge for any given day a family doesn’t need them or for a holiday & vacation (with multiple families in their program) how would they have a constant income to provide a well staffed program or give the proper level of care. Plus you don’t want the people caring for your children to get burnt out! Teachers have teacher in service days, vacations and have paid summers off. People need to value providers more. Parents make much higher wages per hour then providers do and often times have weeks and weeks of paid vacation and PTO time. Often times parents don’t use their time wisely for when their childcare may be closed. So many providers are closing their doors and/or working multiple jobs to try to provide for their families. I always look at it like families have choices in the level of care they want for their child and if they don’t want to pay holidays or vacations and chose a cheaper place they may be choosing a cheaper level of care given in return. It is a career with lots of rules and mandates with very little incentives to continue in this field so most people who work in this field truly love children and do it for other reasons then the money and deserve a much needed paid holiday or vacation!! I look at childcare as an investment not as a burden! Most parents also get to claim what they pay in childcare on their taxes and some states give higher tax breaks to PARENTS for higher level providers with Zero incentives, extra tax credits, or higher earnings for the providers. When you really break down the hours of care given vs the amount a provider gets paid per week I don’t think most people would do it!!! I also don’t think people take in account the lack of benefits, bonuses, overtime, raises, or career growth this field of work!!

    2. Sarah M.

      April 28, 2017 at 1:26 am

      Cable company, electric company etc. don’t offer refunds when I lose my service. My mortgage company doesn’t reduce payments when I’m not living in the house while on vacation.

      What parents are failing to understand… in my particular situation. I was open 48 weeks of the year. I was just so kind to break the payments down on a weekly basic for you instead of paying it all up front.

      Don’t like my hours of operation and my rates? Don’t sign the contract!

  2. Miss Laurie

    April 27, 2017 at 10:31 am

    After 24+ yrs as a provider I have incorporated an extra payment with the clients weekly tuition. I’ve taken 2 weeks paid vacation for years. Now I take 2 weeks payment & divide it by 50 & add that to the weekly rate. This helps families when you do take vacation, perhaps pay a sub, so they aren’t parting with all the money for your vacation & a payment for a sub at the same time. Another plus is as a provider, clients can come & go, so should they leave prior to your vacation, you have been compensated each week.

    1. Lauren Lewis

      April 27, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Miss Laurie, that is a wonderful solution! What a great way to keep parents happy, and to still take care of yourself! How do you compensate for sick days or major holidays, out of curiosity?

  3. Stevie

    April 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

    I don’t have kids but my sister has one of her own. She doesn’t use a professional day care service but she does pay a lady that lives near her to watch her son. My sister doesn’t provide paid time off but what she does do is, if my sister ends up not working one day and will take care of her own son that day, she will still pay the full amount of the week to the lady because she knows that is how the lady makes her money. So it’s somewhat of a long shot similar to PTO, but not really? lol. It’s like an out-of-the-blue type of PTO that no one expected. I know I wrote that oddly, I hope you understand what I’m saying! 🙂

    1. Lauren Lewis

      April 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      No it totally makes sense and that’s very similar! Good for your sister for taking care of the people who take care of her kids. <3

  4. Elise Cohen Ho

    April 27, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I used to own a licensed home daycare and you certainly are right that many of the perks others get are not available to home daycare providers. Of course, there are also tremendous perks. The way I handled it was that my clients signed a contract three times per year. I had a summer contract and then 2 that split the school year. My fee was a flat fee and they could choose to pay a full contract, monthly or weekly. It included my days off.

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