Daycare provider burnout is real. It can happen to even the best of providers and there are various reasons why…
The secret is to be aware that daycare provider burnout can happen and to take steps in advance and long before burnout becomes a real issue. Here are some suggestions to make your new career a little easier…
Practice “alone” time. Take time in the evenings and weekends for yourself. You may not get the chance on a daily basis, but make sure you do a couple of times a week. Spend your time reading an engaging book, taking a scented bubble bath, working on your hobby of choice… anything that does not involve children in any way. Or household chores. Or responsibility of any kind.
Take “mini” breaks during your daycare hours. There will be opportunities during the course of the day when the children are absorbed in activities and do not need your immediate attention. It is perfectly alright to allow them to play unaided and in sight while you simply relax and watch. Even a couple of 10 minute breaks during the day will do you a world of good.
Enjoy quiet time. While young children are napping and older children are playing quietly, do not always feel the need to catch up on paperwork. Or straighten up the house. On some days, just breathe and enjoy the quiet.
Rotate toys. Store a collection of toys in the garage, attic or unused closet. On occasion, remove toys from the play area and replace them with toys from the stored collection. The toys will feel brand new to the kids and will keep them freshly engaged.
Plan activities that do not require direct supervision on your part. Dramatic play is an example. Once a dramatic play center is set up, the kids are able to interact on their own.
One of the best ways to prevent daycare provider burnout is to have a set schedule for daycare hours. Do not deviate from your own schedule or you can wind up working far too many hours.
If you find you have a parent or child that is causing grief on a regular basis, consider letting the family go. You’ll find it absolutely amazing how much your stress levels will go down by eliminating the source. Most providers who have dealt with this issue will tell you they only wish they had done it sooner.
While I will never be a proponent for letting kids stare at a TV screen, cut yourself some slack a couple of times a year and plan a “movie afternoon”. Choose a couple of movies (preferably ones the children have not seen in advance). Offer juice in spill proof containers and crackers (or popcorn for older children), pop in the movie and relax.
Every three or four months… have a slacker week. This means no activity planning. No preschool curriculum, no art projects, no science activities… nothing but playing. During slacker week (the kids look forward to it as much as I do) we spend an obscene amount of time outside. Doing whatever… we blow bubbles, play with sidewalk chalk, the swing set and sandbox get a major workout, we run through the sprinkler, kick balls around the yard, read books in the shade, we even eat outside. Nothing is planned, my house stays cleaner and we are all happier for it.
Do something different. Change something. Rearrange the play area. Add a new area rug or window covering. Plan an activity you would not normally have. Try a science activity or a cooking project. Plan a field trip alternative for a new experience. Sometimes making a few well timed changes makes the old seem new again.
Get out of the house. After daycare hours… find a reason to leave the house. Daycare provider burnout will happen much faster if you don't. You are basically cooped up during work hours and at least once a week you need to get out. After hours, do something for yourself. Visit a museum, take a walk in the park, visit a friend, get your nails done… anything that will recharge your batteries. You need time for yourself and you should never feel guilty about taking it.
Make sure your policies include vacation time. For you. Many providers do not take enough days off. Employed people are all entitled to time off and you are no exception. Make sure you use your days off in the most relaxing way possible. Child care providers spend so much time taking care of others that sometimes they forget to take care of themselves. This is the main cause of daycare provider burnout. Don’t let this happen to you.
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