Posted on 18/01/2018 by Penelope Debrowski
When I worked as an Early Childhood Educator with two young boys, I found it challenging to be an effective educator while still being an attentive parent. At times, it can be hard to balance these two roles and something I am sure a lot of our educators can relate to.
Firstly, I educate and I parent differently
When I’m at home, I don’t pat my children to sleep; I cuddle them and then tell them it’s time for bed followed by a kiss. I pick my children up without sitting on a chair due to National Quality Standards. I don’t have a daily routine structure, I let them sleep and eat when they choose, to an extent, or they will eat all day! I discipline my children when they do something that I believe is not okay by sending them to their room or restricting their use of a favourite toy or technology.
Sometimes the lines between when I was at home and being at work were blurred and I would find myself using my “educator voice” at home. My children will often remind me that I am not at work and that I can “be mum”, as they like to say. Sometimes it just took me that extra time to step back, take a deep breath and remember to relax when I got home with my family.
Secondly, it is hard to be an effective educator and then come home and make sure I have the same amount of attentiveness for my own children
I found it a challenge to be programming, planning and implementing experiences for my child care children and then come home and set aside time to engage with my own. I have been guilty in the past of pouring my heart and soul into educating and therefore lacking in energy when I get home which often resulted in less attention being shown to my own children.
The best solution I found was putting a plan in place that I still adhere to now. I have two children and get home at 5pm after pick up. My husband cooks tea whilst I dedicate the next hour to ask my children about their day and do something of their choice, whether it is Lego or play-dough or reading books. This time is valuable and helps me get the balance right.
Thirdly, I need to stop being so hard on myself
Working full time as an educator was not only mentally draining but also physically gruelling. I was on my feet all day setting up experiences and packing toys away and often felt exhausted when I got home. I’d have to remind myself that it’s okay for them to watch TV. The Wiggles have got me through some hard times; Dorothy and the gang are practically part of the family in my house!
Lastly, I find myself over assessing my child for learning difficulties
Usually parents are not receptive to hearing that their child may have a learning difficulty. As an educator it’s quite the opposite! I was always looking for something that could be wrong when it is usually just not there. Knowledge is power but sometimes too much knowledge can also be a bad thing. Realising that every child is unique and they all learn and develop differently is key to staying sane as a parent.
Whatever works for you
However you handle balancing being an educator and a parent; I don’t think there is a wrong or right way. Everyone needs to find a way that suits them and their situation. I have a real appreciation and understanding for all fellow parents that are also Early Childhood Educators. You are all superheroes without capes and sometimes with!