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Caring for the Caregiver: Beyond Self Care

You've probably heard, "you can't pour from an empty cup," right? Well, lately I’ve been rethinking this saying. Maybe we

shouldn’t be pouring from our cups at all? Instead. We should fill our cups with love, joy, and self-care until they

overflow. Let this overflow be the source of our outpouring to our loved ones and the world around us. But that’s not easy to do, especially as caregivers. Parents, nannies, grandparents, teachers, and other adults who care for littles in their lives pose an additional hurdle to this type of outpouring because of the demands, both physical and emotional, that caring for children takes.

As a note: A caregiver could be described as a warm, nurturing hero who endlessly pours themselves into uplifting

another human, whether as a parent, teacher, nanny, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even as an adult child of an aging parent. While these concepts surely are universal to all caregivers, I may defer to speaking of caring for children, because that is my background and expertise as well as my everyday life as a parent. If you happen to be a caregiver for someone other than little munchkins, know this—you are seen, cherished, and your voice adds rich hues to our lively discussion. So, when we speak of 'we,' it's all ecosystems of care that we hold in mind, even though I’ll be referencing childhood caregiving most of the time.

Self-care—that elusive concept that parents and caregivers constantly hear they should be doing, but often struggle to fit into their busy lives. And I mean, who knows what self-care even is anyway? Is it taking bubble baths and reading romance novels? Eating ice cream and binge-watching TV shows? Taking long walks in the park or sitting quietly by yourself? The answer is yes, to all of these things! But self-care is so much more than just indulging in your favorite treats. It's about taking time for yourself so that you can be there for others—especially when they need you most.

It's about caring for yourself the way you would want someone to care for your little ones when they're your age. It's about modeling for your children what it means to be kind, compassionate, and generous with yourself. It's about taking care of the only person in your life who will always be there: YOU! So I'd like to take the next few minutes of your time to talk about what I believe Self-care can and should look like for caregivers (and preview, it's unique to each of us) as well as a few tips for pouring into your cup so it stays full and overflowing.

Finding Humility and Accommodating your Everyday Needs

Pause, breathe, and tune into your heart, my dear caregivers. Recognizing your needs, setting healthy boundaries, and placing your desires at the forefront isn't selfish—it's the cornerstone of cultivating an environment where both you and your loved ones flourish. Let's trust ourselves enough to acknowledge when our energy wanes, to express what feels overwhelming, and to seek help when life throws curveballs our way. Yes, we're resilient, but it's perfectly fine to have moments of vulnerability.

Picture yourself gently telling your little one, "Hey buddy, mommy is having a tough day, and I'm feeling a bit sad. I just need you to know that I love you, and my sadness isn't your doing." This openness paves the way for honest communication and understanding. We champion seeking therapy—investing in emotional and mental well-being for the sake of healing personal trauma and embracing authentic love for oneself. It's about doing the hard work, for the sweet rewards that follow.

Let's find the courage to ask for help, accept our limitations and disabilities gracefully, and seek accommodations that empower us to be the best caregivers we can be. Lean on your village for support—whether it's for doctor's appointments or a stress-free grocery run with a little extra room in the budget. And most importantly, gift yourself the grace and compassionate curiosity to say "no" when something doesn't resonate with your values and to unapologetically prioritize your needs over the requests of others.

This is the first step to truly caring for the caregiver within you, who is just as deserving of rest and support as the person or people you're caring for.

Unveiling the Magic of Everyday Play

Let's flip the coin of daily stress and accommodations into that elusive thing that we sometimes forget is vital to our lives—play!

Yes, you heard me right, play isn't just for children - adults need it too!

Just as it fuels their growth and imagination, play for us adults acts as a joyous recharge, an oasis amidst the desert of the stress of living in today's interconnected world, daily chores, and responsibilities.

I hear you say, "But I barely have time for a coffee!"

Believe me when I tell you this-I get it: Carving out just 15 minutes daily for a slice of heartwarming play can change the game entirely.

Whenever I can make the time, I like to paint. I have from the time I was a teen, plastering my walls in black paint so that my canvases would pop against the dark backdrop.

And while there were years I didn't pick up a paint brush, I have found my way back to it again. I am not an expert painter. I am not someone with excellent technique and inspired masterpieces. But I am an artist in my own way. And art fills my soul--each day that I set aside a few minutes to drown myself in vibrant hues, letting my paintbrush dance

freely on the canvas I am rewarded not just with a burst of colors, but a rejuvenated me to take on the world.

Play signifies different melodies to each of us.

While it may mean picking up my paint brush or dancing to my favorite songs, for you play can be anything that brings you joy and doesn't have serious or practical purpose. It may mean a slow, mindful walk in the neighborhood park, immersing in the rustle of leaves and the cool breeze teasing your hair. Or perhaps, a laughter-filled chat with your best friend can bring that surprising burst of joy in your day. It could be a weekly dungeons and dragons game with your closest companions. Maybe it's making music or maybe it's just watching your favorite TV show while coloring in your favorite coloring book. Whatever play means to you, the important part is to prioritize it. Instead of looking at play as something we get to do when our work is done, we should see play as something we have to do. Period. Done. End of discussion.

Because play isn't just the reward for doing hard work, it is the respite from hard work, and it is the means by which we are able to do hard work. If you want to be the best version of yourself, then start paying attention to play.

In the beautiful dance of caregiving, play serves as that cheery interlude, sprinkling light-hearted moments in our routine. When working with kids it can seem like we are constantly playing, but remember that when you are playing with your kids, there is a practical purpose. You are enriching their play, connecting, and entertaining. That play is not for you. Even if you do enjoy your time playing with your children, I want to emphasize that that is not fulfilling the play requirement needed for your own self-care

Know this - play is not an extravagance; it's our soul's way of reminding us that amidst the vital work we do as caregivers, our joy matters, too. And it's in these everyday moments of blissful engagement where we truly find ourselves. So, let's invite back the gentle, playful tide into our time-worn shores. After all, just like the children we care for, aren't we too, deserving of a little everyday delight, as simple and as profound as it can be? Let's open our hearts to the joy of play, and in doing so strengthen not only our resilience as caregivers but also our connection with ourselves and the world around us.

Revitalizing Yourself: Embrace the Gift of Taking Bigger Breaks

Let's open a new chapter in our journey of self-love and nurturing—stepping beyond our daily play breaks and trying to find a more impactful retreat in the monotony of daily life.

Imagine a long weekend escape, an intimate date with nature's wonders, or a pampering day at the spa—these aren't just indulgences, they are warrants we issue for our rejuvenation.

Why not plan a cheerful weekend with your friends, heartily engaging in reminiscences, laughter, and creating new memories? Or perhaps an intimate getaway with your partner, a chance to reignite that magical spark! And here's an enticing thought—a weekend dedicated solely to spending time with yourself, painting a symphony of self-reflection and peace.

As parents, caregivers, and nannies, our world of professional grooves around being a solo act in many ways. We don't have regular colleagues and water-cooler conversations; we form our professional coven by ourselves. But remember, we're part of a vibrant tribe, connected by the threads of care, nurturing, and a shared love for child development. Seek out and prioritize opportunities like conferences, wellness retreats, or group events to network and echo with like-minded souls.

Wholeheartedly immerse yourself in what fuels your joy—it could be a camping trip under a canvas of stars, a luxurious spa retreat that lulls the senses, a week-long retreat by the beckoning beach waves, or weaving through buzzing city lanes. If it stirs delight within you, make time for it, dear friend.

Planning is pivotal—pen down those plans, get it booked, the more you talk about it, the more you'll put it off. So make the reservation, put it on the calendar. Whatever you do, just do it.

Planning also involves recognizing the resources, and communicating your needs to your loved ones. Don't have a huge budget? Ask friends if anyone has a family beach house you can rent cheap, or make a fun staycation where you prioritize play and don't do any housework. But make sure you stick to your plan of taking that break. Don't keep putting the planning off till tomorrow, reach out to your village—create one if it's non-existent—to support your family as you take this well-deserved break.

Surprise awaits you at the end of this journey! You'd marvel at the kindness and willingness of fellow parents, loved ones, and nannies in your community to lend you a helping hand. (Remember, together we rise. Let's reciprocate their kindness or compensate fairly.)

Close your eyes and soak in the prospect of these bigger breaks—a breath of fresh air, a step towards resetting and re-centering yourself. And when you come back, you'd be brimming with revitalized energy and love—you'd be the superhero your family and your profession needs, and more importantly, the nurturer your heart yearns for.

Embarking on the Journey of Compassionate Caregiving

As we draw the curtains to this discourse on Caring for the Caregiver, let's remind ourselves of those virtues we so passionately instill in our young ones—compassion and self-worth—and serve a generous dollop of both to ourselves.

Caregivers, you breathe life into the role you play, be it as a dedicated nanny, a passionate educator, or a loving parent. You are the architects of a nurturing environment that cascades the love for learning, the joy of play, and the beauty of child development. While you attentively listen to the silent whispers of the young minds, remember to tune into your soft murmurs too.

In this beautiful dance of caregiving, it’s vital that you wear comforting slippers of self-love, frequent breaks, and deep rejuvenation. Embrace the playful sparks during those everyday moments, carve out space for more significant retreats, and build a community that echoes and amplifies your vitality.

May you continue to be the radiant sun nurturing playful seeds but also remember to bask in the warmth of the sun that nurtures YOU. You're not alone on this journey, dear friends. Together, under the embracing sky of Playful Acre, we continue to thrive, grow, and cultivate a life that sings the melodies of balance, self-love, and extraordinary caregiving.


A Special Invitation for Adventurous Nannies

Putting our shared insights about self-care and revitalization into action, I am thrilled to extend a heartfelt invitation to all nannies out there! An Invitation to Unplug and Recharge

Dear Nannies,

How about a nostalgic trip back to the bliss of summer camps, but with a thoughtful twist designed especially for us?

We've teamed up with our friends at Adventure Nannies to craft a one of a kind experience- Nanny Camp. This 3-day experience is a curated “camp” setting for three magical nights to give eight nannies a summer camp experience that let our inner kids come out to play, and give our adult minds the chance to rest, re-charge, and be in community with nature and each other. Reagan from @PlayfulAcre (that’s me!) will be your camp mage, guiding you through a plethora of optional activities designed to inspire and connect, and Shenandoah from @AdventureNannies will be your “camp cook” for the weekend as well as leading some development workshops and maybe even badly playing a little guitar around a campfire.

Nanny Camp - three nights, tailored to help you relax, recharge, connect with nature, learn, and last but never least, play.

Come, let's inhale the fresh forest air, share stories by the campfire, and scribble our thoughts in our dream diary. It's time you gifted yourself a moment to pause and ponder how you envision your life unfolding, fueling your determination to embrace the future you desire.

The journey starts here: fill in the form at this link or click the photo above.

I promise these magical nights under the stars will be a balm for your soul. So go ahead and apply—let's relive those carefree days and cherish a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share and grow together in this beautiful world of childcare and growth.

With love and anticipation,


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