Two mothers are better than one, especially if the extra is a ‘supermum’.
That’s the experience of mother-of-three Kylee Peachey, who found a ‘second mum’ for her children through family day care.
The busy professional now raves about the benefits of having children cared for and taught in small groups – the maximum is four under school age and three over – in a home environment rather than a centre or pre-school.
She values the personalised attention, often one on one, provided by a skilled educator, saying it helps advance children’s development in all areas, including concepts of numeracy, literacy, creativity and socialisation.
And she raves even more about the educator, May, she found through Catholic Care’s Family Day Care, the largest organisation of its kind in Sydney’s Hills district and surrounding areas.
May has looked after all of her children – Jaxx, 7, Willow, 5, and Kai, 2 – at her Kellyville home.
‘May is like my children’s second mother,’ she said. ‘She treats them like her own children.
She is the most calming, nurturing person and always speaks in a lovely, gentle voice. The kids will do whatever she asks.
‘She must have some superhuman power.’
Crystal Bowman of Riverstone is another busy mum who sings May’s praises, and is delighted at the attention her two-year-old daughter Harper receives in the home care environment.
‘I think it helps her develop a lot quicker,’ she said. ‘It’s like having another family member. They spend so much time they really get to know each other.
‘And her communication is excellent. I’ll receive pictures during the day of what Harper has been doing, how much she has had for lunch, and that helps me get through the day.’
Crystal said she didn’t have to ‘feel guilty’ about her daughter missing out on anything because of the variety of activities on offer – from library outings, music and story times, and gumboot painting right through to games with ‘spaceships’ made of tents covered with stars and little astronaut suits for the occupants.
She said she once worked in a long day care centre but ‘wasn’t a massive fan of it’, and much preferred the personal attention and more flexible hours offered by family day care.
The not-for-profit Family Day Care has been operating for 40 years and caters for around 350 kids on any given day, spread far and wide around the Hills district.
Its 54 educators cover an area from Rouse Hill in the north to Parramatta in the south, from Cherrybrook in the east to Schofields in the west. It is an arm of CatholicCare western Sydney.
Manager Peter Monger said: ‘The quality is high, and the care and education are individualised.
‘Because the children are always with the same educator, that educator gets to know and build a relationship with them and their parents.’
‘There’s a relationship with the whole family, and that’s a big advantage for everyone.’
He described family day care as ‘mini pre schools in an educator’s environment’.
Family day care operated under the same umbrella of laws, regulations and standards as any child care service.
Mrs Peachey said family day care proved a saviour for her as a busy working mum.
‘As soon as I walked in I thought, “This is it”. It’s like buying a house. You know straight away it’s right for you. I wouldn’t want my children going anywhere else.’