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Context: I am employed full time year round, my wife is a teacher, so works full time August to June. We have three kids (6yrs, 4yrs, and 7months) two of which have been going to daycare at the same place since August 2015, the third is a recent addition to the family and started going at the beginning of the year. Typically, to retain our spots, we keep the kids in daycare over the summer, but for 2 - 3 days a week. My wife is dependent on this time to get stuff done around the house and prepare for the next school year.

Our daycare provider is a lady that runs a small daycare from her house. She has no help, and we have been very happy with her. Right now, our two youngest go full time, while the 6 year old is only after school each day. There are two others that are after school only and three other small children. So five all day kids, and three kids that are after school only that will change to all day attendance once school is let out for summer.

Today, in a texting conversation between her and my wife (not sure who started the exchange) she told us we would only be able to bring two kids on Monday and Friday, which will be starting June 3rd.

I realize she has limits on how many kids she can have at a time, and she will be making more money by prioritizing full-time summer kids over us, but we feel a bit betrayed. We have been with her the longest. At the very least, my wife and I think she could have given us a bit more heads up.

How do we approach her about it? I'd rather not have a dispute, after all, I don't want her to begrudgingly take our kids. As of right now I believe we will have our spots back when school starts. I don't know if it will be worth only taking two kids at a time, and if not whether or not we have to utilize that time to keep our spots. My wife and I plan on talking to her when we pick the kids up tonight.

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I understand in situations like this there can be emotions involved, but as a business man I can only give you advice from a pragmatic point of view because I have no kids.

Lower your weapons, and she might feel comfortable enough to be extra sincere and let you influence her business decisions.

Expressing your sentiment of betrayal will only get you a small leverage if she has an interest to avoid emotional dissatisfaction, her business model doesn't benefit much from a loyalty program or rewards only because she doesn't seem willing (or ready) to scale her practice.

That's the main subject that could be helpful to focus on for your conversation tonight. And given it isn't your own business, you can only participate with opinions and with your disponibility to make yourself helpful.

Given you have been in a business relationship for long, and given the type of clientele, she might already feel somewhat attached to you guys, and you are the main subjects she has available to probe market conditions, what I mean by all this is, she might be willing to listen and care for your advice.

So a fight wouldn't help anyone, you can help in many ways, these are just ideas:

  • Being willing to be more flexible with hours
  • Recommend a temporary affordable nanny to work in premises (her house) for the summer
  • If the current caretaker is so good you rather stay with her than scout the market for a new service provider, you could negotiate providing such nanny (full cost, share the cost, share a profit; point is, negotiate)
  • Invest in her business at a juicy share (less likely, but still possible)

And to take the unpredictability matter into the formula, consider the possibility there might be an unspoken issue at play regarding the behavior or interaction among anyone of your children with other children.

Best of luck.

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