Sharing My Toys and My Mommy

Sharing Toys and Mommy

Many home daycare providers also have children of their own.  This is a career choice that allows you to look after your own children while you are at work.  The downfall of having your own children at home with you as you care for other children is that they will have to share their house, their toys and their mother.  Just as sibling rivalry can create tension in a household so can daycare children rivalry.  Understanding how your child sees your role as a daycare provider and helping them create a sense of control over their own environment will help ease tensions in the house.  Fairly quickly, you will get to a point where your child will look forward each day to playing with their daycare friends and possibly acting as a role model and helper within the group.

If possible, I would recommend you start your daycare with your own and one daycare child. Then, after a month, add another child.  Keep adding every month until you have all your spots filled.  This is not always possible but the more time you allow your children to get used to a new addition to the daycare the easier it will be on them.  Your child needs to know that if they need you, you will be available.  Make this a priority in the beginning.  Preparing meals the night before and/or serving very simple snacks and meals will reduce your time in the kitchen.   Planning activities that your child really enjoys will help in the first few months as well.

Try to view the daycare situation through the eyes of your own child.  Five days a week other children arrive early in the morning and spend the day playing in their house with toys and receiving their mother’’s attention.  They didn’t ask for these kids to come over.  They might not even like these children.  Yet, your child is expected to share everything around them.  This would be difficult for an adult to cope with day after day, so it’’s not surprising many children express their dislike of the situation.

I have found it very helpful to outline clear boundaries of ‘daycare’ and ‘home’.  My children know when the daycare hours begin in the morning and when they end in the afternoon.  They understand that some things have to wait until after the daycare children go home at the end of the day or they have to wait until the weekend arrives.


The ‘Book Nook’

I have always had a quiet ‘re-group’ spot available for all my children (my own kids and my daycare children) during daycare hours.  Somedays can be a little loud and busy so the children know that they can always go to the quiet spot in the playroom to have some personal space.  I am very aware about protecting that spot and making sure other children give the child in the spot the time they need to look at a book or play quietly alone with a toy.

We call our spot the ‘book nook’ and they can stay in the ‘book nook’ as long as they feel they need to.  They decide when they go in and they decide when they come out.  It is a protected space.  Knowing that they have a spot to be alone and relax empowers them.  Children will begin to use the ‘book nook’ to rebalance themselves as young as age two.  They watch the older children using it when they are overwhelmed and then imitate the behaviour.  At around age two, I’’ll label an  overwhelming emotion for them and invite them to choose a book and sit down in the ‘book nook’ if they  want to.  I always include “if you want to” in my sentence so that they know the choice is theirs to make.


Security Item (Lovey)

A second secret weapon to use is the lovey! You know what I mean, the ratty blanket they insist on dragging around or the matted teddy bear that has a missing ear.  A lovey is an object that helps soothe a young child.  It is a security item that will help teach a child to breath deeply, still their body and surround themselves in love as they wait for the strong emotion to drain out of their little bodies.  Some children will naturally acquire a lovey during infanthood but others will not.

I watched my first child’s lovey perform magic during daycare hours to soothe and comfort.  This observation led me to introduce a lovey to my second child at a young age and every other child who has ever been in my care.   I have found that daycare parents are open to introducing a lovey into their child’’s life if it will help sooth and comfort them.  It has worked with one year olds who have no interest in any type of stuffed animal and school aged children who have never had a lovey.  Older children’s loveys tend to be treasured toys or collections (trading cards).

You may want to try pairing the lovey with the safe spot, so that the child can eventually self soothe without needing much of your direct attention.  This process will take a few months, but eventually it will work. You are then able to give reassurance without being taken out of the flow of the daycare routine.


Time Management 

During the first few weeks, every time a child was upset about something I would pause the activity, find a spot to sit down with the child and their lovey and gently rock them or sit quietly with them.  We wouldn’t ‘fix’ the situation during this time.  It was just a time to sit and soothe and feel better.  After they felt better, we would re-enter the activity and find a solution to the problem if needed.  Often, all they needed was some attention and a chance to take a step back.

You might be wondering, “how am I suppose to stop the activity every time someone is upset?”  I’’ll never get to the park, I’’ll never get a meal on the table, and I’’ll never finish a craft!  Remember, the goal of the first two or three months is to set up the routine and flow of the daycare day.  Trips to the park and detailed crafts will all happen eventually.   First, focus on establishing a harmonious environment where everyone’’s needs are being met.  Then you will be able to add trips and other activities.

Every caregiver feels torn at the beginning when their own child needs them and so does a daycare child.  Remember, to a daycare child, your toys and house are new and exciting.  Often they are very happy to explore and interact with all the new toys in the first month.  This really helps you find a few extra minutes, during play time, to sit and read with your child or play with them on the floor.

The extra time you spend with your own child will help them feel more secure.  In the beginning, my lap was always reserved at storytime for my own child.  Eventually, the seating arrangement won’’t matter, but giving them my lap in the beginning helped them from feeling displaced.

Drop-off time is a period in the morning where your daycare children will need your undivided attention.  Setting up some special toys at that time of day or having your own child engaged with an activity (playdough) will help free you up to focus on your daycare child and will keep your own child happy and content.  You want your own child to be engaged in a favourite activity so that they don’’t focus on the fact that you are paying attention to another child for a lengthy time.



You might be tempted to use your child’’s toys in the daycare room because they have outgrown them or because it will help you fill up the toy shelves.  Perhaps your child really enjoys a certain toy and therefore you would like it available for them to play with during daycare hours.  Sharing toys is a tricky thing for young children.  Toy ownership is a concept that toddlers and preschoolers are exploring and therefore can create constant conflict between your child and your daycare children.

I have found the best approach is to buy toys and equipment to be used in the daycare. If a child asks who owns a daycare toy, I say, it is mine. I choose to share my toys with everyone.  My children have the choice to donate toys they no longer use or have outgrown to the daycare if they wish.  If the toys do not go to the daycare then they can go to goodwill or a consignment store.  Consignment stores and garage sales are wonderful places to find gently used, good quality toys at low prices.  You will need to put in some time hunting around, but if you do, you will find fantastic toys at great prices.

It is also helpful to keep your daycare playroom filled only with toys that can be shared with everyone.  I would suggest that your children have all their treasured toys kept in their rooms.  They are welcome to bring those toys into the daycare playroom as long as they share them with the other children.  They also have the option of playing alone with the treasured toy in their own rooms.

Sometimes you will have older children in your care who wish to play with toys that have small pieces.  This can sometimes be tricky when you also have young toddlers.  Having older children sit at the kitchen table and spread their game or small figures out on the table helps manage everyone’s needs.  Often, young children can be distracted into play with a different toy or activity to allow the older child time to finish their game.  If the older child needs floor space to spread out their creation, let the older child set up their game behind a gated area.  This way, the younger children still have access to all the playroom toys and they don’’t feel restricted. The older child can relax knowing they can build their creation as big as they want without a small hand knocking it over prematurely!


Special Mommy/Me Time

Whenever you have multiple children you end up having to say no to someone.  Often it is your own child that you have to turn down because they are the ones asking you to play with them, do something with them or get them something, etc.  You probably could say yes to the request if it wasn’’t in daycare hours, but chances are, you can’’t do it because you are looking after multiple children.  My solution to this reoccurring dilemma is to say, “yes, at special mommy time”.

Every day at the same time is special mommy time.  It is a time when you give your child or children your undivided attention and they can decide what you do together.  If you put your daycare children down for nap time first and your own child last then you could schedule in a 10 to 15 minutes special attention time for just you and your child.  Or maybe you could put your own child down for nap first and then get them up first after nap time and have your 10 minutes with them then.  Maybe your child would enjoy loading the dishwasher with you every day after lunch for some special one on one time. However you can, factor in a 10 minute period in the day where you can spend time chatting with your child and re-establishing your close connection to each other.  This will serve you well throughout the rest of the day.

I would also recommend scheduling another special time for the two of you right after the last daycare child has been picked up at the end of the day.  This is tempting to skip because you probably need to tidy up, get dinner ready, maybe prepare for evening  activities out of the house or greet other family members returning home.  Spending ten minutes playing with your child will reassure your child again that their feelings are important, you are interested in their opinions and you have time for them.  A child who feels like their voice is being heard will be more inclined to help you make dinner or colour a picture while you attend to other chores.


Helper Role

Another technique that I use throughout the day with my own children is to recognize their knowledge and strengths.  It is very easy to do if they are older than any of your daycare children.  Even if they are not, chances are, if you put your mind to it, you can come up with knowledge that they possess that would be helpful in the daycare.

For example, if one of the daycare children needs a Kleenex.  Instead of telling them where the Kleenex box is or getting them a Kleenex yourself, you could use this opportunity to highlight your child’’s competence and knowledge.  You could say, “Bobby, today is Lisa’’s first day here and she doesn’t know where the Kleenex box is kept, you know exactly where we keep the Kleenex, could you please show her where they are?”  Most children will jump at the chance to display their knowledge of a situation.

After Bobby helps Lisa find the Kleenex you then have a chance to genuinely thank him for helping out.  This is a small step that only took a few minutes but this is how your own children will come to enjoy helping you with the daycare children.  Everyone wants recognition.  Genuine appreciation for helping someone do a task, that was very easy for you to do, feels great.  I constantly receive positive feedback from friends and strangers when they observe my children helping my daycare children when we are out in public.  People always comment on how nice it is to see such helpful kind children.


Six points to remember:

-Quiet Spot (book nook)

-Introduce a Lovey

-Time Management

-Sharing Toys

-Special Mommy/Me Time

-Helper Role


At the moment, you might feel overwhelmed with the task of overcoming jealously and rivalry in your daycare.  Try these strategies and soon you will see your child grow into the role of cherished member of the daycare group.  What a wonderful journey you both are sharing.  May all your days end with smiles.


  1. Thank you for these wonderful ideas. I started doing daycare less then a year ago. I thought “this will be a breeze!” It has proven to be quite a challenge. I have survived merely by chance haha. I love the kids I take care of but am starting to see some behavior issues with my own son who is 3 1/2. I think that some organization and some of these ideas will really help. I am going shopping tomorrow to reorganize our little life for the daycare and hope that it all helps with my son too. Thank you!!!

    • HowToDaycare says

      I agree with you, having a home daycare AND having young children of your own can be challenging some days. What a dedicated mother you are, spending the time and effort to reorganize to meet your son’s needs. He is lucky to have you. 🙂 Good luck and please keep me posted on how everything is working out. I’m happy to help if I can, just message me privately. Jana

  2. Wow this was the perfect post. I am going to be starting a daycare/preschool in my home and I have been so worried and stressed for my older daughter, she is 4 and has grown up with me being at stay at home mom and always being there for her. I worry for her the most because my youngest is only 1 1/2 and is used to sharing with her older sister. This certainly didn’t calm all my worries but it helped so much. Thanks!

    • HowToDaycare says

      There will be an adjustment period for you and your children but the perks of having a home daycare far out weight the bumps at the beginning. If you would like to chat more about your concerns/worries and get some personalized feedback and strategies I do Skype sessions with new caregivers. Message me privately and I can tell you the details. All the best! Jana

  3. Hi! I have been running a home day care since Sept. 2012 and have found it to be a challenge with my then 17 month old son – he’s now turning three 🙂 He does have a hard time sharing his things and especially his Mama! I’m looking forward to trying these tips, thank you! A quick question about the lovey: Is that something you keep at your home? As in each child has their own special item that they don’t take home at the end of the day? Curious about tantrums at day’s end when lovey stays behind as I have a little guy here who really does struggle with going home as it is right now. Also, SO glad I’ve found this resource! I am also an elementary teacher turned child care provider at home, it’s a work in progress but I do love this new job! 🙂

    • HowToDaycare says

      Hi Katie,
      The lovey is something that travels back and forth from home and daycare with the child. It is the constant companion that helps ease the transition from daycare to home and back again each day. It works as a bridge and a comfort item to young children. Thanks for your comment!

      • Oh, okay, I see! That makes perfect sense! I love that idea! Thanks so much 🙂 Have you had any parents opposed? I know I have one parent who would strongly oppose any type of comfort item unfortunately 🙁 But it’s possible that others would be onboard! Sorry, so many questions from this still somewhat “newbie” child care provider trying to find her footing!

        • HowToDaycare says


          Yes, I have had parents who were initially opposed to the idea. It took a few conversations until they agreed to give it a try. In every situation the lovey has ended up working WONDERS and that is why I am such a supporter of the idea. I would be interested in knowing why the parent is opposed to the idea of a comfort item. Would it be too much of a hassle for them? Dragging it back and forth everyday? I explain to the parent how we are asking A LOT of the young child (transitions are very stressful for kids) and the lovey helps them adapt. Feel free to message me privately (from the ‘contact me’ link on the homepage). I’m here to help. 🙂

  4. I have a little boy who is 2 and he does beautifully with our home child care! We have another one on the way… I am trying to think through the logistics of my almost 3 year old son, a new baby and our child care kids. Any thoughts on this would be helpful!!

    • HowToDaycare says

      Oh my, you are going to have your hands full! My first suggestion would be to take some maternity leave if you can manage it financially. The hard part is if you take 6 months off, you will then have to find new clients when you re-open. Another suggestion would be to hire a helper for you for the first five months. An extra pair of hands will come in handy. You can do it all, and many do, however it is a draining time and very hard on the caregiver (few of us function well on a lack of sleep and the demands of a group of young children, not to mention the newborn’s needs!) If you decide to remain open with your current group of daycare kids email me back with the ages of your daycare kids and the personality of your son and the physical set-up of your daycare. This information will help me give you suggestions that will work for your situation. Email me here,