Hi! We are the Sanchez’s (Carlos, Chrissy, Amina and Ameera) and welcome to our blog, the best place for updates as Let’s Be Friends is built, licensed and open to welcome the families on the Northside of Jacksonville!
You can follow this blog for info on our life, our progress for the center and our #fivestarparenting experiences! I hope you know I am totally joking when I say we have #fivestarparenting. It is more like survival of the fittest and LOTS of deep, deep breathes.
A little background on how Let’s Be Friends all started; back in the “before times” of December 2019, I attended a mandatory meeting at my girls’ childcare center (Amina and Ameera were 1.5 and 2.5) and was told it was shutting its doors in three days! As soon as I left, I was on the phone to every childcare center I could Google in the area and soon found out, I was living in a childcare desert!
Of the few I was able to tour, I ended up on waitlist after waitlist. Some centers could only take one of my two children, or I could wait 3-4 months and then they would have availability for both. It didn’t take long for me to go home, put my entrepreneurial hat on and say to Carlos, “We are going to building a Childcare Center.” I wanted to design a place I’d be excited to send the girls to everyday, a place where they could play outside, where they have raincoats to run in the rain, and they would have to act like they grew up in the 80’s. Oh, and it would have the biggest tricycle track!”
I would hire a Preschool Director. Someone amazing, experienced and bilingual. I would work towards going back to school and get a second degree in ECE. Sound extreme? Maybe… but I was upset, determined, and wanted something great for my girls. He turned around on the couch that afternoon, looked at me standing in our kitchen, and said, “okay, if that’s what you want to do.”
AND THAT IS HOW IT ALL STARTED!
Months later we found 3 acres which I figured would be big enough to make sure it had a good enough size playground for all the children to explore and play. For over a year and half now, when we pass by it, Amina and Ameera wave and say in their little voices, “Hi property; change the lives.” Which makes me smile every time as this is the attitude we want to instill in our two girls. This is our family’s mission together; one we hope to share with you and your little ones.
It has taken much longer than expected, but every time I get the opportunity to explain our vision to someone new, I get goosebumps. When I get to show the plans to a new family, I get further excited about what we are doing.
When I explain about the outdoor art studio, full garden area and the Willow Branch Tunnel along the tricycle track I see the parents’ eyes light up because I know I we are going to be offering something different. When I watch my girls ask if all the new things coming into our house is “for the babies” I smile the biggest smile and say, “yes” because those are all the new friends we will be gathering one day soon.
Know that this project that our family is embarking on started out as a thought driving down Main St. as I turned on Airport Center Dr after touring the last center who couldn’t take both my girls. But know it has evolved to be our biggest desire to enrich our community. Carlos and I never want another family to feel like we felt. Defeated. It was exhausting not being able to find childcare in our area that could meet our needs.
Our place will not be for everyone! I am HUGE believer in letting children be children. My girls climb on things, get muddy, play in the rain, explorer till the sun goes down, eat too many popsicles, and get paint all over my stuff constantly. We have boundaries and we have rules. Yet, I have learned there is a time and place for everything. Right now, their time is to enjoy being 3 and 4, to explore, learn and grow.
Continue to follow here if you want updates on the progress throughout the next few months. Feel free to email us or reach out anytime! Letsbefriendsacademy@gmail.com