by Kay Mishkin
Summer can be a wonderful, carefree time of year. It can also be the season for children to transition in or out of your child care group. It can be a source of some confusion if you are planning on “two months of fun in the sun” while at the same time you are worried about your enrollment after some children leave.
It is for these reasons that summer is not always the happiest time of the year for family child care providers. Some of the feelings we are experiencing are:
Relief: especially if the child who is leaving was a spirited or difficult child. You may be looking forward to a calmer group, easier dynamics and a quieter time in general.
Anxiety: about keeping enrollment up to a good level. Sometimes you worry about overlap, if the new family needs to start before the transitioning family leaves… you may be anxious about getting to know that new child, especially if they have a special need or concern.
Sense of Loss: of course you will miss some of those happy faces who have moved on. Things will happen during the day which bring them to mind, and you’ll feel their absence. We may also miss certain parents who have been wonderful and supportive. It can make us feel left behind as others are forging on into the future.
Challenge: change always challenges us to rearrange, re-think routines, to be extra observant so as to learn quickly about new children and parents. Sometimes it is hard to gently mold that child into your group, or to get trust from that new parent. I find that staying fresh in my attitude, open-minded and excited is also a major challenge.
Impatience: is often felt toward those children who are outgrowing your group. Even though we love them, we find our tempers short with them, our expectations very high. this may be one way of preparing ourselves for them to leave us.
Fatigue: during these times it is not unusual to feel tired and hassled. You are carrying a double load of concerns and your daily routine has much added to it for you to deal with. Summer may add to your fatigue by its’ irregular schedules, vacations, school-aged children may be temporarily added to your group. On top of all this, you may be holding parent interviews for fall openings and maybe dealing with your own school aged children home for the summer.
We have all figured out our own best ways of dealing with this ‘Hello – Goodbye’ time of year, whenever it occurs. It helps to be aware of our own stress level. Plan ahead for lower enrollment or lower income through these few months, and above all, continue to care for yourself. Keep yourself rested, allow some time to enjoy the sun, beach, garden, whatever. It’s worth a lot to just take a few hours to appreciate a sunset, smell the breezes. reflect upon the quietness of a lake , or just enjoy a quiet supper with the family. Autumn may bring a sense of order, calmness and routine. If you plan for it, IT WILL COME.