The choice to become a professional nanny means that you not only love children, you also love taking care of them. On a daily basis you are tending to the physical, emotional, and other daily needs of the children in your care. In addition to a nurturing spirit this requires the often overlooked task of self-Care. Caretaker Burn-out is something that can happen to anyone who is a caretaker whether as a career or in your personal life. It is so important to know the signs, as well as how to best prevent burn-out from happening in the first place.
Let’s first take a look at some of our basic human needs that often get pushed to the side due to the schedules of our busy lives. It is absolutely imperative that you take good care of yourself beginning with taking good care of your body. Proper sleep, staying hydrated, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise can do wonders for our overall well-being. By giving our bodies these basic yet important things we are better able to give our best to those in our care. Caretaking begins with you! It is literally impossible to take care of anyone else if you are not first taking care of yourself. We as humans perform at our best when we are well rested and healthy. Find what works for you! It may be joining a weekly dance class, the gym, or simply going for evening walks, but make exercise a priority! It may sound nice to stay out late catching up with friends, but it is best to save those later nights for weekends or whenever your off time happens to be, so that you can get the rest you need. Food is fuel, and our bodies require certain nutrients to stay healthy so that we can function at our best. While treats are an important part of life, they should be just that, treats! We cannot feel well if we are living on a diet of fast food and other such junk food. Take the time to get creative and find what excites your taste buds and makes you feel well!
Now that we have covered the basics of general self-care, let’s look at some warning signs of burn-out and more personal forms of self-care to add to your life. Burn-out signs can include the following: exhaustion, a lowered immune system, brain fog, lack of energy, forgetfulness, irritability, body aches and pains, headaches, and even depression. The key to preventing this is balance. We are all uniquely different, but what we do have in common is the need to re-charge! This type of self-care goes beyond the basic human needs mentioned above. Learn how to be your own friend and be kind to yourself. Don’t drag yourself down with negative self-talk. Think of how you would speak to those in your life that you love, especially if they are going through a hard time. You would give words of encouragement rather than unkind ones. The same goes for how you should be “talking” to yourself. The brain is a powerful thing and the things we put into it make a difference. Speak positively to yourself! Be gentle on yourself when you have had a difficult day, we are all human.
Take the time to get to know yourself and what makes you feel refreshed and recharged! Carve out some “me time”. This can look like something different for everyone but means engaging in things that you enjoy as well as finding time to unwind. Some ideas for activities can be going to a sporting event, going to the theatre, dinner plans with friends or family, a trip the beach. Whatever it is that makes you feel alive and happy. Ideas for unwinding can include journaling, reading, taking a warm bath, getting a pedicure, going for a massage, coloring, painting, whatever it is that helps you rest and relax.
Many nannies leave their nanny job to go home to their own children, families, or other important relationships. The best way to find the balance amidst juggling our busy lives is by scheduling in time for Self-care. Put it on your phone calendar, write it on your to do list, consider it an appointment and you are much more likely to carve the time out. If you have hit burn out, set aside a day even if it means asking for one off and let yourself rest and re-set. By taking the time to love and care for yourself you will find that it carries over allowing you to better love and care for others. It is a positive thing for everyone in your life!
“There is nothing selfish about self-care, in fact by giving to ourselves we are then able to give our best selves to others.”
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro