An Osakis child care provider who was recently honored for her work advises others “just to have fun” while caring for young children.

“And not get too worked up,” said Ann Sadlemyer, who has cared for children in her home for 28 years. “We feel a lot of pressure with pushing the kids academically but they learn through play at this age, so really just have fun with them.”

Sadlemyer was one of seven licensed child care providers from seven counties who were recognized as the 2019 In Home Family Child Care Providers of the Year. They were honored Saturday, Sept. 28 at the annual Regional Child Care Network Conference in Staples.

The occupation can be stressful and low-paying. There were 12 child care providers in Osakis when she started in the early 1990s. Now there are only six left, she said.

Sadlemyer does things a little differently than many child care providers. She operates on the school calendar; she’s open when the school is open and closed when the school is closed. That way, she gets a break in the summer and on holidays; the system works especially well for school employees.

She started doing child care when her four children were young. Children in her care range from 6 months through 5 years. While she is licensed for up to 14 children, she normally takes fewer than that.

“I like to have a smaller group,” she said. “You can do more with the kids. More science, more arts and crafts.”

It’s important to have good communication with parents, she said, and it helps to spend time with other providers to swap ideas.

The children see her home as their second home, she said. While attending her own children's sporting events in Osakis, her “little daycare friends” would surround her in the bleachers.

The parents she works with nominated her for the award.

“It was quite an honor,” she said.

This is the first year such an award was issued in Douglas County, said Michelle Tautges, lead regional licensing specialist for Sourcewell, which organized the conference. Last year, Sourcewell took over the licensing of home-based child care from the county, which brought Douglas County into the company’s regional network.