Stress in Family Childcare

A few weeks ago I asked my fellow childcare providers what they could not live without. One provider said Pepsi and chocolate. I totally agree having a vice of some kind is helpful in a high stress job. One time at a childcare conference, a presenter said childcare was the second highest burnout rate job there is. The first is disarming nuclear bombs. Dealing with a whole group of different children and parents can be stressful, and a lot of the stress involved is in the way you handle it. Late pick-ups, late payments, unreasonable requests, not calling if the kids won’t be there, and other things parents see as no big deal make a huge difference in the stress level of the provider. Sometimes people think because we work at home, we don’t have a life outside our job. We are human, we are flawed, we have different cultures, but most of us do our best to provide good care.

Another thing that makes the job super high stress in Oklahoma is DHS regulations. No, not Department of Homeland Security, DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES. They add rule after rule after rule constantly, some of which are a huge time drain, and some of which are seemingly pointless. I know they add them because someone made it necessary, but the paperwork involved in family childcare is STAGGARING! In fact, 10 years ago when a friend and I started a family childcare organization in this community, we had 90 home daycares in town, today there are 28! It’s so stressful many people have just quit. So what happens to all the babies? Who will take care of them? Many times I think unlicensed providers just open up. But there is some protection for children in the licensing process. Licensed providers aren’t always better than unlicensed, but some of the rules are good. For instance cpr/first aid training requirements. So is that the best thing for our community’s children? Maybe not. But the chaos that is being licensed is stressful.

As providers, the best way we can continue to take care of others is to take care of ourselves. Remember the flight attendant on the airplane advising parents to get themselves oxygen before they put the mask on their kids? So true. If you are spent, you have nothing to give the children in your life. What are some ways to reduce stress in any person’s life?

  1. The biggest way to reduce stress in your life is to be PREPARED! If you hate mornings, take a few minutes the night before to lay out your clothes, make your lunch and get your things together that you need for work. For me, when I don’t organize what I need for the day, my day starts off feeling stressed because I can’t find what I need or am running behind. It takes just a few minutes of preparation to avoid the catch up game all day the next day. You are totally worth it!
  2. Eating good food reduces stress because it helps you have the energy to do everything you need to do. It also helps you think more clearly and reduces illnesses that slow you down in your busy life. You can make small changes to get there like adding fruit to your breakfast and a veggie at lunch. You don’t have to go from no fruits and vegetables to 9 servings a day overnight. Just strive to do better. I used to think eating vegetables at breakfast was weird, but now I usually have some sort of vegetable in the mornings. Right now because the garden is overflowing, I have tomatoes and cucumbers with my morning meal every day. My family still thinks it’s gross, and they don’t partake, but that’s okay, I know I’m doing something good for me. Making sure you eat regularly is important as well. Sometimes we skip meals due to busy schedules but you are much more productive when you have a good meal three times a day.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Staying up late might be fun at the time, but a miserable day the entire next day is not worth it. Try your best to get 8 hours a night. If you can’t, just get as many as possible. The whole world looks better when you’re rested.
  4. Drinking plenty of water helps you have energy to face the day. Limiting caffeine, sugars, and processed foods keeps your mind and body running at optimal performance as well. Like I said, small steps toward health make a big difference.
  5. Get moving. Some type of exercise will help reduce stress, enhance your mood, and give you energy to carry you through your tasks. Make an effort to move in a purposeful way at least 20-30 minutes each day. I know you’re busy, but dance with the kids, pick weeds in the garden, vacuum the whole house, or walk around the block. You have to make time for you.
  6. Spending time with God is a big stress reducer. He’s my best friend. I know He loves me madly. Time I spend worshiping Him and talking to Him reduce stress in my life exponentially. I have read several studies showing prayer time brain activity matching that of rest. So physically it has been proven that prayer is calming. Prayer and meditation are an important part of your health.
  7. Finally, take some time to do something that makes you happy. If you love cooking, or making jewelry, or skydiving, whatever it is, take the time to do something that simply brings you pleasure. I have several hobbies I enjoy, but when I fell in love with gardening, it had some amazing effects on my mental and physical health. For me it’s been the most stress reducing thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes I would get frustrated if it wasn’t perfect, but then I decided to let God take care of it and nature has balanced out. Some things we lose to pests but I just know those things weren’t meant to be. We have only so much time and weeding and harvesting take all of it, so the rest is what it is. Our Little Sprouts garden is not perfect.

Burnout is common. Taking the time to make sure you de-stress will help you in every area of your life. Like my friend Sharica always says, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Make yourself a priority. For goodness sake, take some time off during the year.  Take care of you, and you will have so much more to give the world. It needs you. This world is a mess and so many people are unhappy, ungiving, and uncaring. Be the change you want to see. Make a difference in your own life so you can help to change this world.

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Gardening 101

Tomatoes

Tomatoes


If you are thinking about planting a garden and you haven’t tried it before, there are a few tips that could help your garden be more successful. This is just the basics for gardening. There are many ways of gardening that are right. I will have much more specific information in future posts, but here is a place to start.
1. Soil-This is the most important part of gardening. Your soil needs to hold moisture and also drain well. Dig up a shovel full of dirt and hold a little in your hand and smash it. If it molds like clay and won’t break apart, you have too much clay and it’s not going to drain well enough. If it won’t hold together at all, it’s not going to retain enough moisture. Good soil will hold together in the shape of your hand but you will be able to crumble the shape apart. If you have a result other than that, consider container gardening or raised beds. If you want to use your existing soil, that’s fine, but you’re going to have to amend it.
2. Sun-This is the second most important requirement. The spot that you choose should have 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. Check your spot throughout the year because the sun changes positions over time. Just because it’s sunny there in the winter, doesn’t mean it will be in the summer when you are growing food.
3. Water-Make sure your garden spot has access to water. If it’s difficult to water it, you’re less likely to keep up with it in the heat of summer. I live in Eastern Oklahoma and many days of the summer it’s very hot. You need to have your water system in place before you start. I water before 10 am to keep down evaporation from the heat of the day.
Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard


Mulching will help your soil retain water and keep weeds down, so be prepared with shredded leaves, straw, or some other type of mulch to make your gardening easier.
Each plant has needs for root space, so read those tags or seed packets and draw out a chart of what you’re growing before you start planting to make sure you have room for what you want to plant. Decide whether you want to plant long straight rows of plants or mix your plants together before you make your chart. I love the look of several kinds of plants integrated together. Some plants thrive together and improve each other and others don’t like each other, so do a bit of research on that as well. I have a tendency to try to poke too many things into the beds and it is not as successful as it would be if my plants had plenty of room. I’m finally learning to let each plant have it’s space.
Remember to start small and grow what you love! Get ready for the most amazing experience of your life! You will be AMAZED at how much you love it! Happy Gardening!
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Summer Squash

Summer Squash