1. Set Up
- How early can you come ahead of time? The night before? That morning? Get there as early as you can. Usually we have 1 - 2 hours to set up.
- Clean and baby proof. Sweep if needed. Remove small and unnecessary objects that infants, babies, and some toddler’s can choke on. Duct tape can be used to put over outlets. Look around for anything that can be pulled over or sections that should be blocked off.
- Know what’s around you. Where’s the bathroom? Where is the outside area? What are your options? Take a moment to look at the big picture. Think about how events will flow and look for the paths between activities so you can plan/prepare accordingly.
- Clearly label and put up signs outside the door and in the hallways, where needed, so the space can be easily located.
- Check in table – Set up a sign in/sign out table near entry to sit and watch who goes in and out. Set up all info there, such as: sign-in-sheet for parents checking in children; a separate sign-in-sheet for childcare volunteers, with optional extra space for day-of-event volunteers; and any other handouts. (This can include an info sheet about who you are; the schedule for the day; and a sign-up sheet to be on your mailing list).
- Tape the day's schedule to the wall. Also tape up any other information you want everyone to be able to see clearly
- Have copies of the volunteer and activity schedules (with their contact info on it) for each bottom-liner as well.
- Decorate to inspire and set the tone. Put artwork with radical and positive messages on the wall. Create posters with inspiring slogans to bring meaning to the endeavor.
- Bring homey, soft, and cozy elements like quilts, pillows, afghans, as well as other handcrafted or personally meaningful items. Handmade items can create a welcoming feeling within any institutional space.
- Build – move chairs, set up zones for different areas. You can create blanket fort, space for imaginative play, calm play area for toys and little kids, open space for more active play, corner for napping, table for games. Create community space by taping brown paper over a coffee table and leave crayons on top. Put pillows on the floor so folks can gather around the table. Designate space to stash your bags (we usually put this behind the check in table), your food, and storage for parents dropping off diaper bags and other items. You may even want to create a lounge for parents to hang out/socialize depending on your space and needs. Let your environment inspire your building. Build space that allows interaction and for kids (and childcare people) to shift and build in their own creative ways.
- Fill with toys, arts activities, books, stuffed animals, and other items. Lay out some to be welcoming as kids first arrive and tuck other supplies and projects away in boxes you can pull out and use later.
- Who do you contact in an emergency? Check in with the organizers. In some instances we have had security to call, phone number contacts, or even a safety team to call for any issues at all.
- Focus. Keep track of time and get ready so you are prepared to start the day organized and on the right foot.
on to --> 2. Starting the Day