As is customary for every new website (maybe ours because we are excited!) we’ll start off our blog with a little rundown of our journey until this point.
To be completely honest, we were not ready. We thought we were but we really weren’t!
We obtained the Daycare house and got caught up in the excitement of its preparation. Choosing interior and exterior design ideas, buying toys, furnishing the Daycare – all fun stuff. Licenses were been paid for, Lawyer documents signed, Business Insurance secured etc – the boring stuff. Everything was slowly coming together. Our dream was about to become a reality. Then it dawned on us… What if what we will have built is NOT what people need. What if we open and no one is interested in what we are offering? What if we left our previous jobs for a dream that would only be ours? What if…? We decided that we had not come this far to dwell on the ‘What Ifs’. We believed in ourselves and our dream and would not give up without a massive fight.
Our initial plan was to have the Cradles and Crayons Daycare open by 01st Feb 2015. We were to have an Open Day on 31st Jan so as to nicely coincide with the actual day of opening. As fate would have it, the week prior to the intended Open Day, our Interior Designer delivered some bad news. The toddler beds would not be dry in time. The weather had been misbehaving making most interior and exterior paint jobs tricky. We decided to take this positively. One extra week would definitely give us enough time to complete any final touches needed. Our Open Day was therefore rescheduled to 7th Feb 2015 and what a day it was! Many of our family and friends dropped by to give their support. A few Jonathan Ngeno residents (estate where the Daycare is located) were also by to show their support and appreciation of what we had set up. The best part of our day came when we signed on our very first client! He at the time was a few months old and would be by for only a few days. We were now in every sense of the phrase ‘fully operational’. No emotion can explain the excitement we felt writing out our first receipt.. ☺
As promised, a few days later our first client was by for his full day care at the Daycare and how did he have our full attention? As this was his first time under the care of a Daycare, his parents naturally made regular calls to check up on his progress. We were on hand to provide each and every bit of information we could. Every so often we would Whatsapp them pictures of his day and this seemed to calm them. At 5pm promptly they were by to collect him. The next day the same routine continued. This was to be his last day at the Daycare. We were left feeling very empty. Our very first client had come and completed his short stay with us.
The next few days turned into weeks with few visits from parents. A couple of parents signed on their children but we were pumped for many more. The ‘What Ifs’ cropped up again. There were days we would spend whole days with no inquiries. What were we doing wrong? As the weeks passed we received numerous false alarms that would get so excited when the doorbell rung only to find the Nairobi Water person or the Kenya Power fellow.
The parents who visited were unfortunately not making any firm commitments to enroll their children. Many felt that they wanted their kids to be amongst other kids but as we had not built any quorum at the time this put is in quite a pickle. To build quorum we needed parents to enroll their kids… Others still did not quite understand the concept of a Daycare. They thought us to be a school and perhaps too formal for their youngsters (story for another blogpost).
Facebook however definitely helped as we were able to upload pictures onto our page and parents were able to visit us virtually. We encouraged them to physically visit with their kids and when they did and saw what we had to offer at the Daycare, they immediately signed their children on. The day we knew we were now getting things right was when the parents who visited our FB page (and were a little skeptical at first – because they believed we had photoshopped our pictures) visited were completely blown away.
We now had a few children enrolled.
August came and we had our second successful Open Day that lead to lots of other sign ups. Our already enrolled parents came with their friends and families. Many signed on. We still remember how when it came time to open our doors to our first clients, we were not even sure whether we could be able to offer our services for a day let alone the rest of the year. Now many were signing on.
The sign ups now were by now constant and we were ready. We had expected a good reception and what we received was more than we imagined. Parents who had initially enrolled their children for one or two days were now converting the days to month long enrollments! The children loved coming in daily and we loved having them. We saw their growth daily and it motivated us to keep at our dream. Parents called in with good reviews and testimonials. Phrases like ‘my son has gained weight since he started at the Daycare’ or ‘what magic do you guys have at the Daycare? My daughter’s tantrums have now reduced’ or ‘I can’t believe how clear and constant my son’s speech has now become! He now speaks more and we understand him’ or ‘while playing at home my daughter just burst into song and dance. It’s wonderful to watch her’ or ‘my child now comes home tired and happy. We all now enjoy a full night of sleep at home’ or ‘how did you get him to drink from a cup? We’ve had bottle-fights for a while now!!!’ etc etc.
What we love witnessing the most is the separation anxiety. To be honest, the parents are the worst at this. In the early days, during drop-offs, there is lots of expected anxiety from both the parents and their children. A few days later when it’s the kids yelling bye and comfortably running into the Daycare their parents expressions are just priceless.
December came and we had our first lot of ‘graduates’. They are all beginning formal school in January 2016 and we are soooo proud to have been a part of their journey. We will truly miss them!
2016 now beckons and we can’t wait to see what it has in store for us.
Our journey so far has seen us spend most of our time learning about the job and giving our all to the wonderful children who have come through our doors. We are glad that we have been a blessing to a community who are now as close as friends should be.
Why are we here then?
It would be easy to end our conversation by saying that we take good care of all our children on a daily basis but actually what we learn every day day presents a new experience. It would be selfish to have all this gained knowledge then let it evaporate into thin air. Think of this blog as our manual and journal for all things past, present and future.
We are really stoked that you were able to stop by and hope to have you guys with us often.