Remember to take care of yourself: six ideas for family child care providers
Family Child Care Providers face a unique situation: we work where we live. It makes closing the door on our day challenging, especially if you love your job as much as many of us do. We give our all to the families we serve to make sure we provide the highest-quality care in a loving environment. But, we have to remember we are important, too.
Practicing self-care can be as simple as changing the hours that you work. For example, I noticed that my children wanted to do more activities after school. But due to my work hours I was often too tired and unable to participate in the way I would have liked to. By simply adjusting my working hours, I soon felt my load decrease considerably.
During a recent discussion in HELLO, the community came up with other great ideas for practicing self-care:
1. Regular Physical Exercise
“I get up earlier than I need to so I have time to work out before I start my work day.”
-Sherrie Rose Mayle, Director
“I started doing yoga with a co worker after work. We worked in an infant toddler classroom, and at that time had a very challenging kiddo. That was over 12 years ago. Now I teach yoga, because it was so effective for me.”
-Amanda, Infant Specialist
2. Take time off
“I take off two weeks per year.”
“I also have a rule on Sundays that I don't open the computer or check email, so I have at least one full day for me and my family.”
- Sherrie, Director/Teacher
3. Connect with your spiritual side through meditation or prayer
“I get up, take care of myself, listen to a sermon, and pray.”
4. Further your education
“I always found taking training and reading in the field really reenergized me when I got in a rut, and it helped me do my job more easily and with greater confidence.”
- Hazel, Consultant
5. Develop resilience
“[I] have found that developing the [Center for the Study of Social Policy] five protective factors (parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, social and emotional competence of children)--resilience especially--is an effective and powerful tool to prevent burnout. I have always personally ‘forced myself’ to put self-care at the top of my list, as we all know, we cannot give what we do not have!”
- Maureen, Owner/Director
6. Add something new
“I add new toys/centers, etc. or change up the room when I start feeling burnt out. It makes me excited again about my classroom.”
- Tara, Director
Another self-care tool I’d like to suggest is therapy, both group or one-on-one. It can provide a much-needed reset and help to combat some of the depression that comes along with working alone each day.
We cannot provide high-quality care and education if we are not in good health ourselves. We need to be both mentally and physically healthy. So, make sure taking care of yourself is on your list of things to do today and be sure you’ve checked that off at the end of the day!
The NAEYC Family Child Care Interest Forum is open to all NAEYC members—join and contribute on Hello!
For a guide on how to be a successful Family Child Care Provider, check out Families and Educators Together: Building Great Relationships that Support Young Children by Derry Koralek, Karen Nemeth, and Kelly Ramsey.
Temesha Ragan is co-facilitator of the Family Child Care Interest Forum and the owner of Perfect Start Learning, a family child care provider business in Edwards, CA.