As I am now on maternity leave, I am enjoying spending time with the parents whose children I minded. We are often advised to keep our work and private lives separate as conflicts can arise in both instances that effect your existing relationships and this is not professional. Whilst I tend to follow this advice, it is hard to prevent friendships developing when you both care so much about their children and have one major thing in common!
As a parent myself now, we often meet up and go to groups together, and I have to say it is an enlightening and valuable experience as we have open conversations about how it feels to hand over your child to someone else and about the parts of my service they found effective or could be done differently. It is interesting, and informative, to learn more about their values, fears and parenting experiences. One thing that they have appreciated is honesty with regards their child’s day, behaviour and routines.
As I no longer care for their children, I do not feel I have crossed any professional boundaries but I hope, if I look after their children again in the future, they will see improvements in my service as a result of our friendships. I would strongly advise though, that all childminders consider the effect and possible consequences of forming relationships that cross the professional line!