There I was, young, inspired, ready to take on the world whilst running a wonderful, gorgeous centre that I loved, but I had done my time, sad but a true feeling. I wish I had that support and Mentor so I could stay and keep my ambition, vision and passion alive.
Let me take you back.
After I completed my Diploma, I went searching for a Diploma role and I thankfully got one after just one interview (what a waste of a interview outfit right!). This service was a small 28 place, Long Day Care and not for profit. I loved it from the moment I stepped in the door, and even though I did not have the greatest experience behind me, I had strong values and an even stronger vision for what I wanted this service to be. I won’t bore you with all the details, but just know I worked here for a few years being the 2IC, room leader and really building up my knowledge. It was also here where I met my lovely business partner Rachelle.
Fast track a few years, and the Director had placed in her resignation.
I was offered her role and I could have not been more excited; I was actually able to put into place ALL my grand ideas. So there I was, never had run a service before so I was head down, bum up, while also driving the train for me and all the passenger (educators, children families, community). I pretty much learnt as I went along, with the greatest support with me, my manager. It is here though where it was unfortunate, she was the most intelligent person I had met, if you wanted to know anything and I mean anything she was it! I inspire to have her knowledge, she was the best Mentor I could ask for, BUT yes there is a BUT, she was so ridiculously over worked that it could be hard to get in contact with her, and at times I would feel terrible contacting her, so I didn’t.
There I was running a service, had a mentor, (well sort of she didn’t know she was being my mentor) and had grand ideas for the service.
I executed my grand plans, they evolved over time with adding upon them through my new found knowledge I would received by attending Professional Development and networking with others. I formed the most amazing team, with over time people coming and going, but it was always such a strong team, with us all working in unison. I even had an educator whom we worked together pretty much from my first day to my last, so this was an emotional time in itself. I found that most educators that had left was due to pregnancy, so to have a low staff turnover was an amazing feeling.
Back on track.
I continued to ensure the service always had a strong Quality Improvement Plan, and that it was a working document, because once we achieved one goal we celebrated and moved to the next. The team was always on the journey with me to make this service always an exceeding service. During our Assessment and Rating we received Exceeding and we even won Childcare of the Year and Business of the Year within our local council more than once, these were great achievements for the team and I. But then it did start to fizzle off. I had all my grand ideas executed, I loved my team, had really strong relationships with the children, families and community but I felt stuck. I wanted more for this service, I knew it could be even better, but I was mentally stuck. I felt I could no longer service this centre, I felt over worked, run down and had a feeling of burnout. But I didn’t tell anyone this- not even my secret mentor, not until right at the end.
I couldn’t believe it, I woke up one morning and thought "what excuse could I have to not go to work." I dragged myself out of bed, did my morning routine, went to leave to go to work and continually thought "should I call in sick?" It was this moment where I thought, "oh dear this is not good I think I have done my time at this centre, only way is to quit". And because I am a doer, I quit. I wrote up my resignation letter, sent it and then drove to work.
I get a call off my Mentor and she is devastated, and I inform her "oh it’s because I am moving". I couldn’t tell her the truth that I was so burnt out and thought someone else’s vision for the centre would be better. Well I did eventually, and we both cried, and we both were really raw with each other, and to this day I just wish I opened up more and that I had actually expressed myself properly so then I could have been guided and supported properly.
Fast forward many years, I’ll skip a part here. I reflect back and think why did I leave, this centre was my absolute baby, I will always have it in my heart and always want it to have my vision. I think if I had that person keeping me accountable, keeping my passion and spark alive and having that wonderful person where I can reflect, plan and execute on a weekly basis I actually think I would of stayed and traveled the distance each and every day. I would have done it because I would see the service always evolving, I would be growing as a leader and I would be excited to go to work each and every day.
Why is it in Early Childhood that we think we have our time and then move on? Why don’t we get mentors? Why don’t we have that person to keep our spark alive and have our vision continually growing and always ensuring the centre is above Exceeding?
Through this reflection, came SPROUTS. We want to keep the most amazing leaders in their services and ensure they are feeling supported and guided in the right direction. We want to prevent the burnout, and sense of overworked and ensure each Early Childhood Leader passion is only getting bigger not being pushed down.