One of the most difficult and stressful decisions as a parent is finding a daycare for your child or children that eases your mind when you have to be away from them.
At Tanny’s Tots Daycare located in Harmony, Minn., the parents have no worries as it feels more like a large family than a childcare business.
Tanny Mayer, owner of Tanny’s Tots Daycare, says she worked outside the home after her oldest child was born but “it just wasn’t my niche,” she explains.
“There was a demand for daycare,” states Mayer, and since she loves taking care of children, she thought doing in-home daycare was a way for her to stay home and be available for her own family but also an opportunity for her to bring in an income.
Mayer opened Tanny’s Tots Daycare in March 1996, and has been so fulfilled by her work that she has never looked back.
When asked why she loves her work, Mayer says, “No two days are the same,” which always makes it interesting. “I get to be a nurse, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a nail and hair salon, and I get to be a chef with all of these little helpers,” explaining that she and some of her daycare children had made brownies together that morning, which was part of their afternoon snack.
“I get to play lots of roles in all of these children’s lives and I love it,” states Mayer. “I get the hugs and the kisses, but I also get the tears and the fights. But it all goes hand in hand and kids are kids,” she says.
Mayer takes her role in the children’s lives very seriously, saying, “My kids are respectful, I teach them that, just like I do my own kids,” she states. Mayer has four children, including Ryan, 23, Tyler, 11, and step-children, Brandi and Derek.
Mayer feels that taking care of children and giving them unconditional love is one way she can give back for blessings she has received in her life. “I didn’t have a very good childhood,” she says, explaining that she was in the foster care system for four years of her life. “I had wonderful foster parents,” says Mayer. “I always wanted to give back and I think I am giving back this way,” she states.
A typical day for Mayer begins at 6:30 a.m. when the first daycare children start arriving. “As soon as they get here they have breakfast,” states Mayer, then it’s time to get some children off to pre-school. Next on the schedule are activities such as coloring, baking or outdoor activities if the weather is nice.
Lunch time comes quickly, typically followed by a second lunch served to the pre-school kids when they return to the daycare. A common occurrence after lunch is story time, and then nap time for any little ones who need two winks, followed by more activities until the last children are picked up at 5 p.m.
Mayer enjoys making crafts with her daycare children and when a holiday is near she chooses special art projects for the kids to create to take home or to give as gifts.
During the warmer months Mayer takes the children outside a lot and every summer the older children have a lemonade stand (with the little ones helping), which everyone looks forward to each year.
When asked the most rewarding part of her job, Mayer smiles and says “the hugs” have to be at the top of her list. But also, “Just hearing from parents how appreciative they are,” means so much, she notes.
According to Mayer, the most challenging part of running an in-home daycare center is “having all age groups from infant to age 11 and keeping everybody happy” when they are interested in different things, but she feels that there is also a positive side to that as well.
Unlike many daycares where children are separated into different age groups Mayer feels that having kids of different ages all together in her daycare is beneficial to the younger kids. “It helps them learn to interact with each other — it’s good for their development,” she states.
Another challenging aspect of Mayer’s career are state regulations which seem to expand and get more tedious annually. “It’s getting harder and harder and harder every year,” she states.
“Yes, I agree those guidelines should be there but you see a lot of people don’t get licensed because of what has to be done,” comments Mayer. “I just got re-licensed in March and there were more new things I had to do and you just do it — it’s all part of it,” she states.
After 22 years of doing daycare, Mayer does not know exactly how many children she has cared for, but knows she has enjoyed each and every one of them.
“I get to love them as my own but send them home,” says Mayer as she explains that her daycare children and families not only become friends but, “we’re all family,” she states.
Katie Gatzke,18, and a senior in high school, attended Mayer’s daycare for many years as a youngster and the two have remained very close. “She’s like my second mom,” states Gatzke.
Mayer has been providing daycare for such a long period of time that she is now on to another generation, as she has the child of one of her former daycare children now enrolled in Tanny’s Tots Daycare. “It’s pretty neat when you have made it full circle,” comments Mayer.