Working in early years can be exhilarating, rewarding, inspiring and can put a smile on your face every day. But working in childcare can also feel isolating and challenging, especially if you work on your own. Asking for help is not admitting you cannot cope, are not able or even strong enough to run your business – in fact asking for help is a powerful step forward and shows high levels of cognition.
As a childcare business owner or practitioner, either home-based or in a group setting, you must be all things to all people, you must spin many plates, wear many hats and be on the front foot at all times. Expectation is high and room for error small. There is no wonder you can feel overwhelmed, tired and alone!
Childcare practitioners can often feel lonely. It can feel like you have no one to share your practice ideas and challenges with and no one understands the pressures you face. But this feeling is not just for childminders or nannies: being the manager or owner of a group setting can feel just as lonely even though it is full of people.
We are pack animals: we can survive on our own yet often we need connection to thrive. As a childcare business owner, this connection works best when it is with like-minded people, people who can understand your world, the pressure and sometimes even the pain.
So where can you turn, where do you go to for help? If asking for help is a sign of strength, showing that you are striving for the very best for yourself, your business and your team, then who is the right person to seek support from?
Colleagues at work often have their own challenges, and if they are your employees, it can be de-motivating for them to hear your worries. Staff need you to be optimistic about the challenges facing you as a team. As a business owner, your role with your team and your families is to be the light.
However, like any light you must charge it. Think of yourself like a torch with batteries. Leave the light shining all the time and it drains the brightness and will eventually go out completely. So, to ensure you can continue to be the light you have to learn to turn off the switch and charge the batteries.
“You cannot pour from an empty cup”. Read that again. Just like the torch metaphor, if you do not put back into your cup of love, life and light then you cannot pour it onto others. Remember that gold rule regarding oxygen masks when travelling by aeroplane? “Put yours on first, before helping others!”
For you to be the best version of yourself you must refuel, top up and charge the batteries. That is why I am delighted to be joining PACEY as one of the team of PACEY Advisors - a new service exclusive to PACEY members. This new service recognises that working in childcare can feel isolating and it can be hard to know where to turn to share ideas or discuss a practice challenge.
The new PACEY Practice Advice line is here to support PACEY members with any queries you have about any aspect of your childcare and early years practice. Working alongside my experienced early years colleagues, Pat and Anne, we are at the end of the phone or email if you want to talk through any challenges or concerns.
We know that many childcare practitioners will already benefit from being part of a network of peers, either within their local community, or online. But there may be some business or practice challenges that you feel uncomfortable sharing with your immediate network. This is where we hope the PACEY Practice Advice can provide confidential, personalised one to one support. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on a problem can bring the solution.
If Covid-19 taught us anything it is that there is so much guidance, support, and evidence out there and navigating it can be mind-blowing. Throw in people’s own opinions and experiences on social media and understanding what or how you could or should do something feels impossible.
It’s our intention that as PACEY Advisors we can provide a friendly listening ear and also – as we are all experienced practitioners with a wealth of childcare and early years expertise between us – we can provide advice and guidance to help you be the best practitioner you can be.
In the words of Winnie the Pooh “it is so much friendlier with two”.
Access the PACEY Practice Advice Line in MyPACEY.