So I really did it. I rewrote my policies and rates. And rewrote and rewrote until I had subdued every impulse at cutting anyone a break. It was really quite painful, but the end result is that I feel really calm. I've done the right thing, I think. I've set a flat rate for either part-time or full time. You pay your weekly rate, no matter how often you show up, and you pay in advance. No exceptions. I have to charge enough that I don't feel like I have to overbook myself just to make it financially. If you want a quality program, you're going to have to pay for it, people.
And then I had to test out my resolve. I had an interview with two parents and I bit my tongue every time I wanted to say, oh, but for you, I could make an exception. I just said, yes, those are my rates. No, I don't credit you for your child's sick days. And bit my tongue again.
And then. The woman who owes me over seven hundred dollars showed up and said she is really in a financial bind, and she has found some unlicensed woman who is a friend of a coworker's mother's sister, who will sit for sixteen dollars a day less than me. She feels REALLY bad, and wishes she could keep the kids here, they absolutely love it, but her husband insists they find a cheaper alternative. I gave her my blessing, and declined to continue watching them until the end of the month. Well, no, at first I said I would. I let them stay, after that announcement–after telling me she would TRY to pay me, but she was leaving care! But after she left, I returned to my senses–she already owes me, she's not going to pay me for the rest of the month–so when she came back to get her kids I declined. And mentioned that I was sure she would pay me, but if, for some unforseen reason, I have to send her to collections, all the days I've cut her a break on, like holidays, and her two week notice she didn't give me, those days would all be on her collections notice, in addition to what the books currently say she owes. Obviously I'd rather not go that route, but I've got bills, too.
The funny thing is, as soon as she broke the news that she was quitting care, I felt nothing but a flood of relief. I didn't realize how stressful it is to have those unpaid bills sitting there, unspoken about. For her, obviously, but for me, too. Unfortunately I love the baby like my own–she's such a doll and I've loved watching her grow, but I can't do it for free. Unless she wants to put her up for keeps of course. . . I'd take her in a heartbeat.
I'm really looking forward to not having those kids tomorrow and Saturday–and I didn't even realize they were stressing me out until the prospect of not having them has arisen . . .