It’s morning. Your alarm goes off- a little too early, and you reluctantly ready yourself to greet an early incoming child. Last night you slept soundly, too soundly, and it’s too early to mess with hair and make up. Throw on some yoga pants and a tee shirt, sling your still wet hair into a mom bun, and you have just enough time to take a sip of coffee before your first kid comes joyfully through your door.
It’s mid-day. The shoulder of your shirt is covered in boogers, slobber and food. Your hair, still growing in from all that post-partum hair loss two years before, is sticking out in an artful disarray. A glimpse in the mirror will shock you into what you already, deep down, realize.
You are a Hot. Mess.
The professionalism that we pour into our childcare business stops at self care.
The time and attention, the love that you put into your home, your contracts, your crafts, your branding, is lost the moment it turns introspective onto your actual person. Your time and attention and love is diverted elsewhere. As providers we serve, and sometimes it gets to the point where we stop serving ourselves.
After all, there’s no dress code in your work. Heck, the majority of your co-workers prefer to run around naked. They don’t care what you look like. That your hair is a mess and your eyebrows would make Oscar the Grouch proud. If your tummy is a little extra squishy, it just means you are softer to cuddle with. You love your job and your Littles.
But you are forgetting to love yourself.
You are forgetting to take care of yourself. When’s the last time you went to a dentist? Had a good hair cut? Wore jeans? I knew I hit rock bottom the day our temps hit 95 and I threw on a hoodie anyway, because I didn’t want to wear a good bra.
What is wrong with me?
But there is more! What is wrong with this way of thinking? Why is it acceptable in a provider’s brain to care for everyone else with everything you have, but give yourself the short end of the stick?
I know this isn’t just me. (Please tell me it’s not just me.)
When I first opened my home and business, Lauren’s Little One’s, I did as much research as I possibly could. I took classes, I researched, I found nationally accredited homes near me to shadow and learn from. I can’t express my shock, as a young mid-twenties mom, when this childcare provider I was hoping to mentor from opened the door. No make-up, ragged hair, her husbands button down Hawaiian shirt, and sweat shorts. Yes. Sweat shorts. Her wealth of knowledge was wonderful. I went home from speaking with her, excited and fulfilled. But in the back of my mind, a small piece of me judged. How can she run a business and let herself look like that?
And yet here I am, 5 years later, and I get it now. I rock my leggings and sweat shorts like there’s no tomorrow. So no, I don’t think it’s just me. I think this is a struggle many care providers struggle with.
But how can you take better care of yourself when you’re spread so thin?
First of all, big dramatic steps and leaps generally aren’t effective, because they are hard to stick with. Taking care of yourself can happen in little steps. Small things throughout your day that will make you feel better, and look a little more presentable, too.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Water water water water. There are tons of benefits to upping your water intake, and the end game results in a happier, healthier caregiver. Taking small steps like carrying around a giant water bottle, making sure you drink a cup of water before you have your coffee in the am, etc, go a long way.
2. Take the Kids on Walks
Every little bit helps. Your walk may seem slow and tedious, but strap a baby on your back (find out my favorite carriers here), lay out some instructions for walkers or bike riders, (A great chance to practice street safety!), get some fresh air and get moving. You don’t need to run a 5k to feel good or be active. Chances are the Littles will look forward to it, and you’ll feel better too!
3. Give yourself time in the mornings
I am NOT a morning person. Never have been. I LOVE the rare weekend days when The Hubs takes over with the kids and I get to sleep in until 10. I have several Littles who need to come early though. I used to drag myself out of bed in time to brush my teeth and throw open the door for the next incoming kiddo. But lately I have discovered a secret. I treasure getting up 20 minutes before my kids come through the door. Starting my mornings in the quiet, sipping hot coffee, writing or just relishing the peace does wonders for starting my day on the right foot.
4. Do the thing that makes you feel good
For me, it’s writing. I love squirreling away quiet moments to write before the day or during nap. I also love planning the Big Latch On events for Breastfeeding World that are coming up in August. For you, it could be binge watching Netflix, knitting, running, getting your nails done, whatever!! Do something for YOU, that makes YOU feel good about YOU.
Whatever you do, no matter how easy it is, don’t neglect yourself. Practicing self care is one of the most essential things you can do as a childcare provider. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure you fill it.
Talk to us! Do you struggle with self care as a mom or childcare provider? What makes you feel good?
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