Updated: Jan 27, 2021
As a childcare provider, there's a great deal of pressure to keep everything running as smoothly as possible, from best safety practices to making sure staff and parents feel happy and safe at this time. Here are 3 ways we suggest that could help support mental health during these trying times.
1. What's might be stressing my staff?
Although it’s easy to assume that everyone at your center is stressed because of COVID-19, you can never know what’s fully going on for someone else at a surface level. Staff might also be suffering a loss in their personal life or worried about something unrelated to COVID-19 altogether. The first step to helping your staff cope with stress is to make space for this is to conduct weekly check-ins with your team. If you’re not already doing so, consider meeting with your staff one-on-one every week, and practice active listening in each of those sessions. If you can model being fully present, you’ll foster an environment in which your colleagues can bring their whole and best selves to work, which will help boost morale and retention. You can certainly provide helpful feedback, but remember that this time is ultimately for your staff to share their wins and concerns.Practicing this principle will help to build a positive and collaborative work environment, which is especially vital during high-stress times.
2. We have to communicate consistently
Because uncertainty is one of the leading causes of stress these days, directors and administrators need to communicate clearly with their staff. Simply put, effective communication can help prevent burnout and turnover.
Make sure that your team is always updated on the factors that will influence their jobs the most, including:
Changes in hours, schedules, updates to health and safety practices, important information regarding students, expectation of roles and duties to be carried out, etc. You can also facilitate great communication at your center by setting clear expectations for when it’s appropriate for your staff to “vent.” During stressful situations, it’s not helpful to expect staff members to bottle up their emotions. It’s also unhealthy to enable a work culture in which employees gossip frequently and spread negativity amongst their colleagues. Let your staff know that you genuinely care about their concerns, and encourage them to use their weekly check-ins to share candidly with you. Having time and space to voice their honest opinions will help your teachers bring their best selves to work.
3. I have got to prioritise my own physical and mental health
It’s important to manage your anxiety so it doesn’t spill out and affect those around you. In fact, one of the best things you can do for your staff and students is to take good care of yourself. If you don’t already, carve out space in your regular schedule for screen-free activities that help you unwind. Recommended best practices for reducing anxiety during COVID-19:
Limit your media consumption and keep “scrolling” to a minimum. Establish times when you turn your phone off or leave it in a different room so you can focus on an activity you enjoy or spend time with the people you live with.
Create space for encouraging conversations that don’t happen over text or social media—seeing a loved one’s smile or hearing a dear friend’s laugh can do wonders for your mental health!
While you can’t change what’s happening in the news or what other people are thinking, you can take agency over your own self-care.
Keep a consistent bedtime, eat plenty of vegetables and healthy foods, and get some exercise and sunlight.
4. I'm fully recharging by setting healthy boundaries
It’s not healthy to be available for the needs of your childcare business at all times. Remember to set healthy boundaries so you have adequate space to rest and refuel. For instance, you can keep your phones off or on “Do Not Disturb” at night, and make sure your colleagues and families know you won’t be responding to them during late hours. Likewise, you should also clearly communicate to staff when they should and shouldn’t respond to work-related messages. If you model good boundaries, your staff will learn that they can also maintain good boundaries for themselves, which will ultimately help to build a healthy, sustainable work culture for your team.
It's been extremely hard last and this year to address the needs of both your staff and families.Take a deep breath and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You’re doing an incredible job!