Take Care of Yourself

It is now well and truly autumn in the UK.

The nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill to the air. Over the weekend I started to ‘put the garden to bed’ – clearing up the leaves, cutting back the raspberry canes and picking the last of the dahlia.

By the time I came indoors it was beginning to go dark and the solar lights had winked on.

I felt tired and ached, but also felt incredibly peaceful and calm, satisfied with a good day’s work shared with an inquisitive robin.

Coincidentally, I have had cause to think about mindfulness and calm over the last week, and how critically important this is if you are a practitioner or educator in the Early Years.

Last Friday I listened to a fabulous presentation by Katie Sheen who talked about mindfulness as a way of living every day, all day. Her story is very uplifting and her experiences have resulted in a lovely App called ‘Appreciating Windowsills’. The game encourages you to think of why you appreciate normal, everyday things – such as the sun on the windowsill.

Then on Monday I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak of Sonia Mainstone-Cotton’s new book ‘Promoting Emotional Wellbeing in Early Years Staff’. Without giving it all away, this great book has lots of simple, easy things you can do as a staff team to promote your emotional wellbeing, such as having breakfast together or bringing fresh flowers into the staff room.

Sonia also talks about ‘being kind to yourself’, even to the extent of stroking your own arm. I use scented hand cream and really think about massaging it into each finger. During those few minutes the internal storms about my work or other problems have settled and usually the priorities are much clearer.

She also talks about finding joy in the everyday, echoing Katie Sheen’s advice. This can be from the perfect formation of petals in a flower head to the laughter of a child or a smile from a stranger in the street.

Why is it critical that we are kind to ourselves and nurture our own wellbeing?

Young children are still trying to regulate and make sense of their emotions. A very powerful way of learning this is to watch and imitate the adults around them. If they can see you using calming methods or being mindful, then they are more likely to follow in your footsteps.

You may have children in your setting who don’t currently have role models for good emotional self-regulation. Without this essential skill, further learning and skills acquisition is going to be much harder (or even impossible).

In addition, self-regulation becomes a virtuous cycle. Children who can regulate their emotions are more likely to have positive social interactions and are more likely to persevere at challenging tasks, reinforcing emotional regulation.

Children need to have those good adult role models around them.

So, try and find a moment of joy today. Appreciate a leaf shape, the smell of your coffee or the sound of a bird singing. Have a few minutes of sheer enjoyment with the children, without thinking about learning goals or recording an observation, just be in the moment with them. Notice and mention to a colleague the good work she or he is doing. Take a minute of calm and notice the warm sunlight or the twinkling raindrops.

Most importantly – take care and be kind to yourself.

Find out more information about Appreciating Windowsills here: http://mindfulness.soulnutrition.org/appreciatingwindowsills/

You can order Sonia’s book here: http://amzn.to/2iRgRs6

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