Early childhood teachers—you know how it goes! Teachers are usually so focused on making sure the young children in their classrooms are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy that this leaves little time to check in with their own physical, mental, and emotional state. While teachers are constantly advising children on how to regulate their emotions, they sometimes can forget to take their own advice!
Cathryn O’Sullivan, EdM, author of School-to-Home Connections: Simple Strategies for Early Childhood Educators, shares quick self-care tips for teachers that they can do in their classrooms with their kiddos without having to think too deeply about implementation. As Cathryn explains, these tips can go a long way in making sure that you're okay. And when you're okay, the families and the children you serve are okay as well.
Hi, I'm Cathryn O'Sullivan, and I'm the author of School-to-Home Connections: Simple Strategies for Early Childhood Educators. Today I want to share with you a few tips from one of the chapters in the book about self-care. And yes, if you are an educator, you're probably already rolling your eyes at me and saying, “Yes, I will take care of myself when I have time to take care of myself!” But no—you have to take care of yourself now so that you can take care of the kiddos you serve and you can take care of your family at home as well.
So here's some quick ones—not that you have to think about where to employ them and how to find time to take care of yourself—but quick ones you can even apply in your classrooms and your learning environments as well, so that the kiddos can practice managing themselves and regulating themselves as well.
Take Your Own Advice and Take Deep Breaths
So for the first one, let's take a deep breath together. I know, I know— you've heard about the breathing, but let's try it. Let's just try one! Let's try to make our exhale a little bit longer than our inhale. Just three goes a long way, but we'll just practice one together. Are you ready?
Didn't that already make a difference! And I know a lot of you have your kids smell the flower and blow out the candle, but are you really doing it with them? Just give it a try! Breathing deeply takes you a lot further than you think.
Move With Your Kiddos
Another tip—let's get moving! Move with your kiddos and move with yourself. Dance, shake, wiggle! Even just shaking it out really does make a difference. It really does help you to feel better, and it goes a long way in helping those kiddos to feel better as well.
And now—if you haven't already started laughing at me—that's my next tip. So good, get practicing if you haven't already started. Laugh! It sounds ridiculous, and sometimes you don't feel like laughing, but even laughing when you're faking it still has the same wonderful stress relieving, emotional, and physical benefits as laughing when you actually feel like laughing. So just give it a try! Start to laugh. Maybe watch this video again and say, “Why is this woman being so ridiculous?!” and enjoy laughing.
And laugh with your kiddos! The more they can practice these tips as well, especially when they're calm, the more likely they are to use it when they need help regulating themselves.
Incorporate these little tips, and then see where else you can incorporate a little more time for yourself. Can you share tips with colleagues? Can you split up the work so that you're making half of the things, and they’re making the other half, and you trade.
Can you find little ways to take a break and ask for help? It goes a long way in making sure that you're okay. And when you're okay, the families and the children you serve are okay as well. Thanks for all you do.