Some childminders have days when they wake up and think: I can’t do this anymore. But what about when that feeling of gloom goes on for weeks or months? If you are considering closing your childminding service, you should take time to think about the following questions before acting…
Are you over-reacting to feeling a ‘bit down’? Down patches happen to everybody, in ANY job. Bad weather can make you feel awful. Small children can be challenging. But if it’s just a blip, don’t do anything hasty. Hang in there and you’ll probably feel better again soon.
Are you sure it’s childminding or is it something else? When you have a lot of stress in your life, it can affect your outlook on EVERYTHING. If you are dealing with other problems in other areas of your life (spouse, finances, children, illness) then even things you normally enjoy (like your work) will feel like more than you can handle.
Are you lonely? Talking to small children all day can be lonely, and leaves many childminders longing for some adult company. Try going to a local Parent & Toddler group if there is one near you. Often childminders go along too, they find it a good support and an outing for children. Or try a Facebook group, like Childminding Ireland’s Members Forum. See if linking in with other people helps meet that need.
Are you bored? Can’t think of anything more tedious than pushing a child on that swing, AGAIN? Then do something different! Try a new park or new activity. Challenge yourself to come up with new and interesting things to do with the children.
Can you reduce your hours? If you can afford to reduce your hours, many childminders will tell you that this has been a life saver to them. For example, if a child leaves don’t replace them straight away. Or you could think about switching to a before or after school care only service so that you have some time in the day for yourself. Feeling trapped is horrible, so don’t quit until you’ve tried to free up your time a little.
Is it one particular child or one particular family that is upsetting you? Sometimes you have to put yourself first. If you can pin it down to feeling miserable about problems from a particular child, or family, then perhaps you need to give that particular child’s family notice.
Do you just need to take a break? It is easy to get to the point where you feel you will actually explode if you don’t get some time to yourself for a while. Are you taking your holidays? Far too many childminders say they haven’t had a proper holiday in years. What about the weekends? Be honest with your family about your need for some time “off” children at weekends.
Are you feeling undervalued and underpaid? Many childminders still charge the same fees per hour as they did 10 years ago. Be brave and tell parents that you are putting your prices up. You will feel a lot better about your job if you feel you are being paid fairly for the work you do.
Hopefully, after facing the blues, you won’t give up after all. But maybe you feel that it is time to move on. In that case, give yourself a timeframe and create an ‘exit plan’ – perhaps when your own child or a mindee starts ‘big’ school. Having a plan can help you keep going until it really is time to move on to something new.