When Dawn Norton of Brainerd starts her day, she has a list of items she plans to accomplish.
From taking her youngest daughter to preschool to making a deposit at the bank, the list of goals helps the mother of two balance work and home.
Norton, 41, along with her husband, Tim, owns World on Wheels roller-skating rink in Brainerd. They opened the rink in 2001 and will open a faith-based day-care center soon in the World on Wheels building.
"When you have a building this big, what better way than to make it a child's place and add a day care," said Norton. "We already do a lot of day-care parties."
While the roller rink will remain open Thursdays through Sundays, the day-care center will operate 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, hours the roller rink normally is closed. When they have five kids registered for day care, it will open. So far they have two children enrolled.
Dawn Norton painted one of the walls at the World on Wheels Daycare Center in Brainerd. Norton and her husband, Tim Norton, who own the roller rink, are opening a faith-based day-care center there.
Before operating the roller rink and day-care business, Norton, a 1982 Brainerd High School graduate, had a career in hairstyling. She earned her certificate in 1983 from Brainerd Beauty College and worked at several beauty shops in Brainerd for 18 years. The last six of those 18 years, Norton ran her own beauty shop in her home.
In 1990, when Norton worked at The Cut Above, she met her husband, Tim, who was a radio disc jockey. They married two years later and had two daughters, Haley, 8, and Madisyn, 5.
When Madisyn was born, Norton said her husband wanted to open a roller rink and she thought he was crazy.
"I was like, how can we do that?" said Norton. "We had no money, but he kept pursuing it and everything fell into place. It was a lot of work for him.
"I was optimistic at first, but we went with it. Once it was open I quit doing hair. I was ready to do something different. And this allowed me to stay home with the kids."
Norton said her main role in getting the roller rink together was decorating it. She picked out the counters, booths and the black activated colors for the floor and walls.
Dawn and Tim each own 50 percent of the business. She said they work well together. Once the day-care center opens, Norton will oversee the center and Tim will oversee the roller rink.
The Nortons watched "Daddy Day Care" last fall and that is how they came up with the idea for the day-care center. Norton said they had the space at the roller rink and adding a day-care center was a perfect fit.
World on Wheels Daycare Center is licensed for seven toddlers, 10 preschoolers and seven school-age children. Norton said eventually they will be able to hold 14 toddlers, 30 preschoolers and 30 school-age children, for a total of 74 children.
Tim built the walls for the rooms for the day-care center and Dawn painted the walls with a Noah's Ark theme. She also has been busy buying furniture, toys and play equipment for each room.
Eventually there will be a fenced, outdoor grass playground for the children.
A preschool and a toddler teacher have been hired. A teacher still is needed for the school-aged room. The staff will plan a variety of experiences each day to promote growth in child development and will share God's love through song, Bible stories and prayers. Norton said there will be a balance between small and large group experiences to individual activities.
Once the day-care center is open, Norton said her duties will include preparing healthy meals for the children, bookkeeping, working with the parents and enrolling children.
Norton learned many of her roller rink and day-care center duties on the job, including bookkeeping.
"I didn't even know how to start the computer," she said. "I had to do the books. I did it with my beauty shop, but that was the extent of it."
Norton learned the computer programs by trial and error and now she even does her own taxes and payroll on the computer.
"Some days I don't know how I get through," said Norton. "I take one day at a time. I set goals each day and I try to achieve them. If I didn't have a list I'd go crazy."
Norton said her faith in God has grown and she has learned a lot in the past four years, including how to communicate with people in different situations and having a lot of patience.
"I try to stay positive," said Norton. "I try not to let one person ruin my day."
Norton said she has always wanted to work with her husband and they make a good team.
"It's a good test for a relationship," said Norton. "It will either break or strengthen it, and it strengthened ours."
The business also strengthened the family relationship. Norton said the family has the same goals at the roller rink and they have fun talking about activities planned for the next day. The girls help out at the rink. Haley works at the concession stand and sells snow cones. Madisyn is Norton's helper. When Madisyn does not have preschool, she tags along with her mother.
Norton said even though she opened a business with her husband she encourages any woman who wants to open a business to go for it.
"Life is too short to be afraid to start a business," said Norton. "We took risks when we opened the roller rink and we hoped and prayed it'd work. You just have to keep going. I know in my heart it will work and if it doesn't then that's God's plan."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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