The nice lady at the front desk of our local YMCA got Lorelei all whipped up about a special spa & wellness event they’re doing on Mother’s Day weekend – chair massages, a smoothie station, yoga, various beauty tips…and, most exciting of all, a fresh flower for every guest! (Lorelei is already hoping that roses will be included in the assortment.)
Now, none of this is really my cup of tea per se – change that fruit smoothie to a chocolate milkshake and I’m there with bells on – but Lorelei was so excited that I signed us up.
When I told her we’d be having some special girl time, she said, “That means you’ll be able to give me your full attention!”
Ouch. Score 1 for maternal guilt.
Lorelei and I talked a bit, and she feels – rightly so – that my attention is often divided between her and her 2-year-old human tornado of a brother. Even though I do my best to keep things as even as possible, my time and attention are, alas, finite.
So I try to focus on the big stuff: Keeping both kids safe, respectful of others, and feeling loved. Everything else is secondary.
If I can sneak some organic kale into their diets from time to time, so much the better, but it’s never going to be a priority for me (and, frankly, it’s probably never going to happen at all in my house).
Even setting aside the constant presence of loud, tiny people, there are some parallels between running a child care center and parenting small children.
You are constantly pulled in a million different directions, and there are (almost literally) a million different things you could be spending your time and money on at any given moment. In order to allocate your resources in the best possible way, you always need to be looking at the big picture.
For you, as a child care owner or director, your focus should always be on the following three things:
1. Attracting and enrolling new families
2. Attracting and hiring great teachers
3. Retaining your current families and staff
That’s it. If you can manage to do these three things consistently and well, you will have all the business you could ever want – and a very high-quality program to boot.
It’s not easy, of course, and each of these three goals involves many different components. But focusing on them above all others will help you steer clear of the things you shouldn’t get overly fussed about – the organic kale of your program, in other words.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with organic kale. In fact, it could very well tie in nicely with the big three above if, say, you decide to offer and promote a special healthy menu that sets you apart from all the other centers in your area.
But if not – if, as in my house, organic kale isn’t helping you advance your most important goals – then you should take a pass (and, once again, may I direct you to the miracle of the chocolate milkshake).
Don’t let yourself get distracted, in other words, by the nice-to-haves and why-nots. For whatever investment you’re considering (be it an investment of time, money, or effort), the test should always be whether it’s moving you closer to one of the big three goals above. If not, keep in mind that it could actually be moving you farther away by diverting your efforts and attention – even if it costs little or no money.
There are many different paths to success, but it’s your job to make sure that you stick to the specific path you’ve chosen for your center. And when you do that, everything just falls into place – organic kale or no organic kale.
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