Taking Some Time to Refuel

Hedda SharapanIt’s near the end of the summer and just before the transition to the next school season, so this might be a really good time for all of us to take a deep breath and take a moment to think about refueling.

“Refueling” – that's such an appropriate word for early childhood professionals. Whenever I’m in a childcare center or in a family childcare home, I’m always amazed at how much energy your work takes – not just physical energy, but emotional energy as well. Between the group needs, the needs of individual children, especially those with challenging behaviors, and the needs of families, there’s always something or someone crying out for your immediate attention.

Fred recognized the enormous amount of energy it takes to work with young children. And I have the feeling that when he talked about slowing down and finding ways to manage when we’re upset or stressed, he wasn’t just talking to his young viewers. On the video, he’s talking to children about that, but I sense he’s really talking to all of us.

Deep breathing, like Fred did on that video, is one way to refuel, and it doesn’t take much time.

Here are some other ways that may help:

Appreciating the moment

A while ago I was in a “mindfulness” workshop when we were given one raisin – only one – and we were told to eat it very slowly and tune into the moment with all our senses. It reminded me to stop, focus on the moment and appreciate it – especially a small thing, like a sunset, a butterfly, a kind word, a warm smile.

Responsible selfishness

If you were raised like I was, selfish was wrong, self-centered and vain, but I came to understand that adding “responsible” to that phrase means there’s something healthy about doing something just for me….something that makes me feel good. With all the selfless giving you do to care for children, it’s easy to feel depleted. But when you take some time to make sure that some of your needs are being met, even for a few minutes, you refuel and then you have more energy to give to others.

Little By Little...

With all that energy you’re giving, I wonder if it’s hard to tell, at times, if you’re making progress with a child. Remember that growing happens little by little…sometimes even with one step forward and two steps backward. I guess that means we have to be persistent and patient…and celebrate the little steps.

Forgiving

Fred always said that there are no perfect parents…no perfect children…and let’s add there are no perfect early childhood professionals. He also reminded us that the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We human beings are complicated creatures and don’t always say or do the right thing in every situation. That’s just part of being human.

Asking for help

One of my favorite quotes from Fred was “It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – there’s real strength in that.” I hope you know someone you can turn to for help. Just knowing you have a caring listener can give you the energy to carry on.

So, just for the moment, join me in taking a deep slow breath…and appreciating some of the good things in our lives. And don’t underestimate the work you do – it IS rocket science! And it takes a lot of fuel!

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