Working with children brings many intrinsic rewards, which keep family day care educators going ‘the extra mile’. Yet despite these joys and deep satisfactions, being a family day care educator is often physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. In recognition of this, Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) is conducting a new campaign called Your Wellbeing Matters – information and tips for family day care educators.
This section of FDCA’s website has been developed as a place to share useful information, tips and resources to support educators’ personal wellbeing. So take a moment for your own wellbeing and explore!
Wellbeing can be summed up as a state of feeling good about ourselves and the way our lives are going. While there are many definitions of wellbeing, it is generally recognised as a complex interplay between physical, psychological, emotional, social and health factors as well as an individual’s culture and values.
Personal wellbeing is important because it helps us function well in the world and provides us with feelings of happiness, enjoyment, curiosity, contentment and engagement. A sense of wellbeing also contributes to our mental health, that is, our capacity to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviours so we can enjoy life, maintain positive relationships and work towards our goals.1
Children are influenced by the people around them and their surroundings.2 For family day care educators to be effective in educating and caring for children, it is important that they also look after their own wellbeing.3 You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes.
Moreover, recent research shows that the unique context of family day care brings with it additional challenges that may impact on the mental health and wellbeing of educators. There is also a sense of high expectations from families and services that educators display a high level of mental and physical wellbeing at all times.4
In the process of meeting the intense daily demands and challenges of their work, and in peak times, it is easy for educators to put their own personal wellbeing needs on the backburner.
Many factors can contribute to positive personal wellbeing.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. What works for some, does not work for others.
Below are some tried and true ways to look after your personal wellbeing that may useful starting points:
Educator wellbeing is not just the responsibility of the educator alone. Below are a number of ways in which services can help build wellbeing and resilience in their educators:
1Commonwealth of Australia 2014: ResponseAbility Fact Sheet - Wellbeing and Self care
2Kidsmatter eBook: Learning on Country: What do ya know?
3Early Childhood Australia’s The Spoke blog: 8 Ways to take care of yourself, January 31, 2018 at http://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/8-ways-to-take-care/
4Corr, L., LaMontagne, Anthony D., Davis,E., Waters, E. : Early childhood educator mental health: performing the National Quality Standard, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol 42, no. 4, December 2017.
5Adapted from 7 tips to enhance professional resilience and wellbeing at Kidsmatter Early Childhood : www.kidsmatter.edu.au/early-childhood/blog/7-tips-enhance-professional-resilience-and-well-being