What to expect – Typical day

First of all – expect the unexpected.

With children and animals, not a single day is the same as the last one.  Kids are unpredictable.  They get sick, they have off-days, they have hyper days, they have school days and they have holidays … You must be flexible!

One day a four year old will think you are their best friend, the next day; he will make sure you understand that “you are not the boss, mammy is the boss”.  One day a baby will be going through a growth spurt meaning they will want to eat loads and loads of food to help feed this sudden growth and will smile at every person that looks at them.  The next day that delightful baby will be teething (getting teeth), his mouth and gums will be sore and he won’t eat a thing.  They will moan all day and they will surely not smile at you.  A ten year old has a mind of their own, a twelve year old thinks they are grown up … anybody that has worked with children or is interested in gaining experience in childcare, will learn fast that you cannot predict a child’s behaviour.  You cannot plan every day of the week strictly because things will go wrong.  If you cannot adapt to a child’s world, you are going to find this a very long and difficult stay.

So be open-minded.  Go along with it.  Be firm, but be fair.  Keep them safe and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  When it comes to discipline – ask how the parents want their child’s bad behaviour to be addressed.  Don’t make that decision yourself and never, ever, ever, physically discipline a child under your care.

If your host family owns a farm, expect animals to be totally uncooperative.  One day your host family will be working from 5 AM to 10 PM, and then next they might work 7 AM to 7PM.  If you need to work a little longer one day, ask them for a little extra time off the following week.  Be realistic.  If the family relies on you for childcare on a certain day and at a certain time, don’t ask for those hours off.

Here is how a typical week day could go:

Mary and John have a farm in the Midlands.  Mary is a local primary school teacher and John is a farmer.  Mary is gone every day from 8.30AM until 4.30PM.  John runs the family dairy farm on which the family home is based so he is around most of the day.

Mary and John have three children – Sean is 10 years old, Michael is 6 years old and little Emily is 2 years old.  Sean and Michael go to school and Emily is at home all day.

Time: Activity:
7.15 AM Children get up for school, they need to get dressed, brush their teeth and be ready to go.  In the meantime you are getting up, getting dressed and are ready to start the day.
8 AM Breakfast time.  Help with laying the table and tidying up afterwards.  Ensure the boys have their schoolbags ready and haven’t forgotten their lunches.  Mary drops the boys into school for 9 AM, so don’t worry about driving.
8.45 AM Emily is now solely in your care.  John has gone off to milk the cows, Mary is at work and the boys have gone to school.  You will keep Emily entertained.  Play games, read books, do some art work, go for a walk.
10 AM Snack Time.  Give Emily yoghurt and some fruit.  Ensure she drinks some water.
10.30 AM Back to play time.  Perhaps Emily is getting a little tired.  Give her some quiet time whilst you give the floor a quick sweep in the kitchen, put on a load of washing.  If Emily wants to help – let her!  Toddler’s love feeling important and every bit helps …
12 PM Lunch time.  Give Emily her lunch and get her ready for a nap.
12.30 – 1.30/2PM John might come in for his lunch.  It is a chance for you to have some down time.  Have your lunch and relax a little bit.  If you need to catch up on some house chores, this could be a good time to do so.
2.30 PM Michael comes home.  Give Michael his lunch or a snack and help him a little with his homework.  Ensure Emily is safe.  Keep her busy, when toddlers get bored, they get up to mischief!
3.30 PM Sean comes home.  Again, ensure he gets something to eat and starts his homework whilst making sure that Michael and Emily are safe and occupied.
4.30 PM Mary is home.  Give Mary a chance to unwind, offer to help out with preparing dinner or supervising the children whilst Mary does so and then take some time out.


Saturday and Sunday are your days off, so go on – make the most of it.  Give one of those other people on the contact list a call and go and discover some of Ireland’s wonderful places!