by Katie Brazerol
Whether you’re a director of a large child care center or a home child care provider, caring for young children can be a difficult task. To avoid burnout, it’s important for anyone taking care of children to find ways to relieve stress and find joy in what you do. Here is a list of suggestions to help you stay positive and refrain from burnout:
1. Be consistent. When children know what to expect during the day, they tend to behave better. This will help you manage their behavior. Create a daily schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
2. Take a break. Everyone needs an occasional break during the day to reenergize and refuel. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a set nap/rest time for all young children. Take advantage of this by setting a consistent rest time for all children in your care. 20-30 minutes of quiet time on a nap mat will help the children relax and unwind, and it will also provide you with a much needed break!
3. Take time off. Everyone needs a break from their jobs. Schedule specific time away from your child care or classroom. If you own a home-based child care, consider adding a few days of vacation time to your policy so parents are aware that you’ll be taking time off. If closing is not an option, consider #4 (below).
4. Find help. Many child care providers struggle because they have no back-up care. If a family member is not available to help out occasionally, consider advertising at local churches, the library, or a nearby college. Paying for occasional assistance will help you avoid closing your child care and it will help you obtain a more flexible schedule. Be sure to follow your local child care guidelines by interviewing prospective helpers and conducting background checks for any staff.
5. Find a hobby. Many providers spend time taking care of their own children or planning for the next day after hours. Research shows that hobbies can provide joy and relieve stress. Find something that interests you that you can do in your off time.
6. Take care of yourself. When you’re not feeling well, it’s difficult to keep a positive attitude. Eat healthy foods, hydrate often, and make sure your body gets enough sleep and exercise.
7. Find a community of child care providers. Sometimes sharing ideas and venting frustrations with others in similar situations can alleviate stress. Find a group that promotes positive attitudes and fosters solutions to everyday child care issues.
8. Continue your education. Early childhood guidelines change all of the time, so keep yourself up to date on current child care practices. If you feel confident in your education and training, you are more likely to feel competent and proud of your job!