I love love love being with and working with preschoolers. In all honesty, I love love love it 98% of the time. However, that 2% just about does me in.
Totally done in…..Check my pulse because my eyes are glazed over and there’s no response whatsoever….
I’ve been known to fill out on-line applications for jobs where children are not allowed, nor welcomed, or ever mentioned while at the office water cooler…..I’ve been known to toss down four or five cans of Diet Coke to just make it to the end of the day on a 2% day…..and…..I’m ashamed to admit this one, but, here it goes anyway…..I’ve been known to plop tykes down in front of the TV and play Max and Ruby not just once, but on repeat…..so it repeats…..many times….shameless for a Reggio inspired educator….I feel no remorse…..None…..Nada…..Zip…..
Although the Max and Ruby Marathon seldom happens, it happens because I have neglected to take care of me and I am running on empty physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and every other way that can be thought of.
I mean, think about this, who in their right mind would want to be subjected to three hours of parentless bunnies? Ruby’s voice is soooooo annoying! Why won’t she just give up trying to convince Max that it is fun to play dress up???
Seriously Ruby, you need to grow up and get a life!
The bigger picture, is that, Ms. Patty needs to get a life. A real life that has time to rest, and to play, explore new interests, connect to friends, and a home that is finally clutter free and organized…..
And this brings me to the meat of today’s post: Self-care
I work an average of at least 65 hours a week, 49 out of 52 weeks a year, and rarely take a sick day….Last June, I finally finished my Master’s degree in education. For three years I was putting in 15 to 20 hours above my normal work schedule for course work….Many nights I was up until after 2am getting assignments completed and was living off of less than 5 hours of sleep a night….This set me up many times for major seasons of burn-out….
Self-care is to a preschool teacher what a pacifier is to an infant. It helps soothe the soul when life gets hectic and stressful. It took me a while of living crazy, before I began to really practice the art of self-care, but now that I am taking better care of myself, I have enjoyed these benefits:
My perspective is so much better and realistic at the end of one of those 2% days…..
I am kinder to myself when I feel like I totally bombed the day at the end of one of those 2% days….
I am encouraged and refueled to begin again the next day at the end of one of those 2% days….
Self-care will look different for everyone. Here’s my short list to help you get started creating yours:
- Bubble baths – long hot with loads of bubbles. If the water gets cold, drain some out and fill ‘er up again….Stay until you feel better and are totally relaxed. [2% days merit two-hour soaks for me….]
- A stash of comfort foods. I keep a pack of gum, a bag of something salty, and a bag of something with chocolate in the kitchen area of The Patch. Nap time is self-care time…..and on 2% days, self-care time is munching away until I feel better and I never feel bad in telling the tykes, “Ms. Patty needs this….”.
- Over the counter meds are always stocked in The Patch – Advil, Excedrin for Tension Headaches and an acid reducer….No joke…..I head off as much physical discomfort as early as possible…..
- My journal – I write until I feel better….
- Walking. In good weather, I walk the entire subdivision including the winding streets. It’s three miles and its the best gift I give myself. I really miss it when I can’t walk.
- A creative project. I am a creative person – so, I have a project going at all times. I scrapbook, I blog, I create journals out of cardboard and twine and beautiful paper scraps, I cross-stitch, I create my own curriculum for The Patch.
- I take myself out to eat at a really nice place. I enjoy my own company and feel very comfortable eating out alone. There’s nothing better than a cloth napkin and someone asking me, “Is there anything I can get you?” after taking care of tykes for days on end….
- Texture and color…..When I’m feeling funky and on the verge of a burn-out, I take an afternoon and go to my favorite stores and touch all the textiles and take in all the colors. There’s just something soothing for me to experience beauty and design. Call me silly, but, this has been such a healthy therapy for me when I am down and it helps me to choose to see colors both physically and emotionally, instead of greyness from not taking good care of myself…..
Self care keeps me grounded. It keeps me energized. It keeps my perspective realistic. It keeps my inner joy flamed. It allows me to live abundantly and with joy and with humor……When I’m in a good place personally, I’m in a good place professionally.
I hope these thoughts and suggestions have been helpful. I hope they have encouraged you.
So, go get a pencil or pen or crayon and some paper or construction paper and begin creating your own list…..I mean it…..go…..now! And let me know what you came up with and how you are doing…..