There are so many times we need to hit the pause button as we are parenting for our own self-care and the care of our family. As we near the Holidays this becomes more and more apparent. Many parents and caregivers become consumed by the ever-growing needs of their children and forget about their own. In my own journey of parenting I learned the hard way. I hope that by reading this blog and applying some of the practices you may enjoy some relief and not have to learn everything the hard way. And, since the job of parenting is an 18 year contract, at the least, I’d like to help it be a fun and easy job.
So I will share some of the practices that help me and my staff thrive with your children all day long. We have morning check in circles to connect with the young ones when they arrive. Now, a circle is a loose term with the more curious toddlers, let’s call it a moving circle. The intention is to connect and, in this way, we are able to see where everyone is at the start of the day. Are we tired, happy, sad, excited, angry or awake? We repeat the circle at the end of the day to give the children time to check-out where we recognize the challenges and celebrate the accomplishments of the day. It sounds very organized as I type this, and it’s not always, but it provides continuity and can be lots of fun.
Another practice that I use is to employ self-empathy when I am triggered or start to feel tired. I take a few moments to breathe, close my eyes and get in touch with my feelings. Then, I am curious about what I need at that moment. Perhaps I need rest, relaxation, ease, fun or play. Once I identify the need I take a few moments to remember a time when that need was met and breath. It is inevitable that I feel lighter and am able to step back into my role as caregiver, boss or teacher. This practice provides emotional safety for the children at the daycare and when speaking with the teachers in all the different classrooms almost all of them had a similar practice whether it involved breathing, closing eyes, putting their hand over their hearts or simply taking a “time-in.”
Recent brain research has established the need for emotional safety, especially at an early age. Some of the experiences that children interpret as dangerous include: adults raising their voices, name-calling, comparing one child’s mistakes with another’s successes, threatening punishment, shaking or spanking. It is not only what we do but the state of our heart and mind when we do an action that children pick up on. For years, I have studied mindfulness as a practice to bring to the daycare. I have not implemented it and I can see where just by my practicing it, there is a shift in response by the children. Psychologists have more and more been studying and using mindfulness practices so it is very easy to find some resources online.
The last tip that I want to leave you with as you move into the Holidays as a family is to express gratitude. Just 5 minutes of gratitude practice at night helps me sleep deeply. You can do it as a family and even make a game out of it by having a gratitude chair. Each person would take a turn sitting in the chair and you could go around the circle and everyone would say at least one thing that they were grateful for in the person sitting in the chair. Believe me, it feels delightful to have all that love and gratitude washing over you. Try it at home tonight and see how you sleep!