Serving as a childcare provider is a stressful and intense job. That’s why creating a self-care plan is essential for those who work in the industry.
Without self-care, many childcare workers face burnout, which can lead to health problems but also a lower educational experience for your students.
There is nothing selfish about self-care. Everyone around you will benefit from you focusing on your well-being and taking some time to lower stress and thrive in your position.
Learn what self-care is, how to prioritize it and activities that qualify as self-care.
What Is Self-care?
Self-care is an essential element of caring for a person’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. Too often, people don’t prioritize self-care because they believe they can spend their time better caring for others than focusing on themselves.
What you have to realize first is that well-being isn’t just about enjoying your favorite TV show or treating yourself to a massage. It’s about caring for your entire self, which in turn helps you care for those around you.
Self-care involves six elements.
As you consider ways to improve how well you care for yourself, you should focus on each of these six elements to some degree. And know that caring for yourself can come in the form of small or large habits.
For example, you might get started by packing a healthy lunch the night before each school day. Or perhaps you wake up 10 minutes earlier to complete a meditation session before getting ready for the day.
You don’t have to indulge yourself to ensure self-care. So self-care isn’t about treating yourself to chocolate or sweets after a hard day at work. And if you really think about the long-term health effects of binge-watching your favorite show, that isn’t necessarily self-care either.
While life without some junk food and fun activities like relaxing with a movie would be boring, you can’t overdo these activities that could increase your stress, anxiety and a host of other physical ailments.
Why Self-care Is Important for Childcare Workers
Every profession requires some level of self-care. But teachers and childcare workers face a unique challenge in that they’ve devoted their careers to caring for others. For them, it’s easier to tell parents and caregivers that they need to care for themselves than it is to take their own advice.
In 2021, more than three in four teachers said that they experienced frequent job-related stress. In comparison, 40 percent of working adults reported frequent job-related stress. And sadly, 27 percent of teachers reported symptoms of depression, compared to the national average of 10 percent of all adults.
Teachers and childcare workers who leave their stress unchecked can face burnout, which means a higher turnover rate for the industry and a lack of continuity of care for children. Self-care is the key to helping childcare workers feel better in every aspect of their lives.
Examples of Self-care
The hardest part about self-care for childcare providers is starting a new routine. And with six elements of well-being to focus on, it can feel overwhelming to even get started or it can feel like you’ve added too much to your routines to where you give up on all of it within the first week.
Start small by choosing one element of self-care to focus on first. And only after it feels normal and routine should you add in another self-care activity.
- Eating nutritious foods
- Exercising regularly
- Sleeping 7-8 hours every night
- Daily meditation or prayer sessions
Once you’ve mastered these basic self-care routines you can move on to a few more advanced aspects of caring for yourself.
- Take 10 minutes of your work day to decompress. Caregiving is a socially overwhelming task. Sometimes you just need a little time to yourself to refocus and recharge.
- Practice positive language about yourself and your image. You need to be compassionate toward yourself to see your full worth and value.
- Learn how to recognize your emotions. Write down challenging activities or interactions you have during your work. Pause for a moment when you feel overwhelmed to see what might be leading to that feeling. Self-awareness will help you feel your best and work through challenging emotions.
- Find ways to connect with loved ones, friends or coworkers to build a social support network. Take time to connect with someone every day, whether that be just a quick phone call or sharing a meal with someone.
Teaching Children Self-care
Once you understand and master self-care, you can pass it along to your students. There are many ways to start doing this even at a young age to help youth slow down, recognize their emotions and better process them.
- Build in Personal Reflection Time to Activities
Ask children about their favorite activity from the day and how it made them feel. Show children pictures of different emotions on faces and ask them what emotions they think the faces are feeling.
- Teach Children Mindfulness Exercises
Even young children can learn mindfulness. Sesame Street provided a great video for young children to learn basic meditation and mindfulness skills.
- Ask Children What They Like Doing with Loved Ones
Get children thinking about how they connect with loved ones and the role it plays in their daily lives. Ask children to draw pictures of the activities they enjoy doing with loved ones and then talk about why.
- Try to Correct Negative Self-talk
From a young age, children might say that they can’t do something or that they aren’t good at something. Change their language so that they say they aren’t able to do something yet but they will soon.
- Read Books and Talk About the Emotions Portrayed
After reading a story, ask children what the various characters were likely feeling. This will help get children thinking about how situations impact others and their emotions.
- Praise Children and Encourage Them to Praise One Another
Children will model behaviors they see from their teachers and caregivers. Regularly praise children and encourage them to praise friends and family in the same manner.
Providing Teachers Resources to Support Job Satisfaction
Help reduce teachers’ stress by offering them the best tools and resources to do their jobs. Childcare software helps automate processes and speed up documentation procedures to help childcare workers stress less and find greater job satisfaction. Schedule a demo of iCare Software today for more information.