It has been one of those whirlwind weeks in terms of my work (I work as a nanny and at a child-minding setting). I’ve done the normal school runs and pre-school gymnastics but have also had the extra parent meetings, the paperwork, and I even emplaced participatory activities in my setting which still need to evaluated and adapted this weekend. Looking after children is exhausting and draining but it is also rewarding and fun. After doing this for 5 years now, I’ve grown professionally but also personally. I have learned a lot in this line of work. So without further ado, here are 3 lessons that I have learned from looking after children.
Lesson one is to have a routine but be flexible. I’ve learned to go in to work with a plan. I pack up my bags with games and crafts and an outing in mind. However, I have also learned to be flexible with my circumstances. I’ve learned that I can’t control everything. Children throw a lot at you with sickness, pushing boundaries, tantrums, and sometimes serious issues that they and their families are dealing with. Life, with all of its complexities, seems to appreciate the unexpected. I’ve learned to not fight the unexpected but to accept and work around it, in my own personal world as well as my professional world. Be flexible enough so you can bend where you need to bend in your circumstances without breaking.
Lesson two is to be willing to learn. The more I work with children, the more I see and appreciate their ability to soak up information and learn new things. Children are constantly absorbing, especially during the early years, and are constantly curious. They ask a question, receive an answer and ask again. They try, fail, and try again. They will repeat again and again until they have mastered that skill. These attributes are good ones to aspire to, especially for someone who is studying a degree part-time while working. Ask those questions, try again, and repeat until you know it; this is how you learn.
Lesson three is to be bewildered by the extraordinary things in the ordinary moments. Children seem to have the gift of wonder. The littlest things appear to capture their attention, whether that is spinning wheels on their toy cars to sitting perched up in a tree. A simple quick walk in the woods becomes an amazing adventure. The ordinary is often the extraordinary for children. I have learned to take on board that mind-set; that each day is new and full of possibilities. It gives each day its own unique flavour, with another new adventure to add to the list. Learn to appreciate the art and wonder of living everyday and of living it to the fullest.
I think sometimes the best things we can be is to be humble enough to learn from the places where we didn’t expect to learn. In working and caring for children, I have learned, from the children and families themselves, how to live and care for myself and others. I want to continue doing that, no matter what line of work I do next.