Discovering Your Purpose: Why Should You Be A Child Care Leader?
This last year rocked my personal world to its core, and I'm not even talking about the pandemic. In July, my husband and I rode a roller coaster of emotions as both our child with special needs came into the world and my mother passed away. As I began the process of sorting through my mother’s belongings I couldn’t help but reflect on my personal passion for childcare and all kinds of questions leapt into my mind. Why do I do what I do? Why do I love preschool so much? Why am I passionate about coaching other childcare leaders? And Why do I find making silly videos for social media like this one so much fun? You may be asking yourself why am I getting so personal on a daycare blog, but strap in and enjoy the ride because I strongly believe that leadership is a conversation and when we as leaders get personal, EVERYTHING changes for the better. This may seem like a strong statement, but read on to see how this has proved true for me:
So Why do I do what I do?
I always loved children, even from a young age. I was the one at family parties who was at the “kids” table long after I was old enough to move up. I even babysat at the tender age of 11, I guess because adults just thought I was responsible (and they were probably right). One thing I loved about kids was their never-ending curiosity. It was so addicting to me that I chose to spend my life surrounded by kids, soaking in all the ‘why’ questions they would throw at me. In addition, being the youngest of four older brothers, I had no choice but to be a natural caregiver! I was the only girl and by far the most responsible of the bunch so they looked to me for care and leadership and I happily took on the role.
And WHY do I love childcare so much?
After graduating from big sister and babysitter I was headed to college but still couldn’t decide exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to work with children but being stuck inside a classroom teaching 8 hours a day didn’t seem like the dream life I was looking for. Instead, I pursued sociology with a focus on “Family and Life” because it still involved learning about children and I found the classes interesting. While in school I began working in a Preschool Program as a part-time job. I found that I absolutely loved the environment. It was so relaxed and the teachers seemed to be engaged and passionate while still having fun! I sat in the Directors office one day and thought “if only I could be a childcare director…”. Little did I know this part-time job would not only stoke my love for childcare but also my passion for childcare management, leading me to where I am today.
But WHY am I passionate about coaching other leaders?
After 6 years working in the trenches in the preschool field, including traveling across the country for work, I was given the chance to be a Director in an After School Program. As I have mentioned before, I didn’t have much experience, but I had drive and determination. When I was hired I was given only a few days of training by the previous director, and then let loose to figure the rest out on my own.
So...how did I do? Well, yes, I enjoyed success in my role and yes the program was thriving after a few short years, but I was forced to do it alone, without helpful advice or even childcare software to make my life easier. It wasn’t a fun place to be and I often felt alone, isolated and exhausted. I am passionate about coaching other leaders because I have been there, and I get it. My dream is that no one would have to lead a center alone, that all directors and owners would know that there is someone else in their corner, like a personal trainer waiting to support and encourage them on their journey.
And WHY do I find making silly videos for social media so much fun?
As a child I always wanted to be a performer. I had dreams of singing on stage or playing the piano at Nordstroms. The only problem was I had no musical ability at all. I guess creating video content is fun for me because it triggers that drive as a child to perform. Yes, they are silly and I can’t stand the thought of my friends watching them, but they work because they are a way to communicate with your audience by being personal and relatable while sharing your passion with others. Video is the best way to connect with a social media audience. In fact, studies show that “social media videos generate up to 1200% more shares than text and images alone”! So if you haven’t done it yet, put aside your fears, put on your best smile, and show your passion for childcare to the world!
What is your Why?
So, now that I have gotten personal and shared with you my WHY, what is yours? Here are a few reflection questions to get you thinking.
- What part(s) of your job do you love the most?
- What part(s) of it might you be taking for granted?
- Is there something in your job that reminds you of being a child again?
- Where do you believe you are called to have the biggest impact?
- How are you having that impact, or how could you increase that impact?
Often we have seasons of life where we get into a rut and our purpose seems to be lost. If that is you today, know you are not alone. It's in these times when we also tend to feel the heaviness of burnout and stress. Don’t let yourself get there, be proactive! Practice self care, and consider making your job easier by using childcare software. Then take time to re-find your purpose in childcare by reflecting on the questions above and surrounding yourself with mentors and friends who can build you up when you’re feeling down or give you concrete advice for how to improve your work. Above all, don’t forget to share your passion with others and when you receive good advice and much needed support, pass it on and pay it forward and you will see your purpose and value come so much more clearly into focus.
I strongly believe that when we connect our work with our why, we gain power. Connecting with your purpose on a daily basis provides a sense of value and motivation which turns a ‘job’ into a lifestyle and allows us to be more and more effective with the time and talents that we have been given.
So take some time today to stop and reflect. I know you’re busy, but taking time to bring your purpose back into focus and remember your WHY will lead to renewed passion and appreciation for your work that will contribute to many more years of fulfillment as a successful childcare director!