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Nursery Managers Show

29 - 30 NOVEMBER 2024 EXCEL, LONDON

13 Feb 2024

Guest blog: A day in the life of a Nursery Educator – A manager's journey

Guest blog: A day in the life of a Nursery Educator – A manager's journey
Find out what happened when Lucie Sweeney, Wellbeing Manager at Kids Planet Day Nurseries, spent a day in the life of a Nursery Educator.

Our CEO recently extended an invitation to all Head Office colleagues, encouraging them to spend a day at their local Kids Planet nursery. In my role as Wellbeing Manager within the People function, I jumped at the opportunity to gain first hand insights into the daily experience of my frontline colleagues.

Arriving at work

Arriving at our Prestwich nursery in Manchester, I was excited, nervous and full of cold! Worries flooded my mind: How will I get through the day? What shall I do if I need to make a Lemsip? Do I need to ask for permission to go to the toilet?

These were questions I had never grappled with in my decade of autonomous roles. Transitioning to a highly structured work environment, governed by ratios, lunchtime schedules and shift patterns, triggered a wave of apprehension I wasn’t prepared for.

Stepping into the nursery, however, I was immediately enveloped by an atmosphere of warmth and my worries quickly dissolved as soon as put on my uniform (which was surprisingly comfortable and flattering!).

Baby room

My journey began in the baby room, where I was greeted by Ashley, the Room Leader, who patiently explained the delicate dance of caring for infants. The team were constantly switched on; soothing, tending, teaching, encouraging and multi-tasking. There is nowhere to hide in this role.

Amidst discussions on sleep schedules, dietary requirements and curriculum intent, I witnessed firsthand the boundless affection exchanged between caregivers and the children. A few of the babies grew quite attached to me, which made transitioning to my next room challenging! It struck me how swiftly connections can form with little ones who rely on us, and I pondered the depth of those bonds, especially after caring for them over an extended period.

5 minutes of peace…

Two hours later, I asked the manager if I could use the toilet, to which she laughed and replied, "Of course!". A few moments of quiet were definitely needed at this point. I was surprised by how quickly time had passed.

I observed the complimentary sanitary products on the shelves, uplifting quotes adorning the walls, safeguarding information displayed, and baskets brimming with pampering products. I helped myself to some dry shampoo and deodorant, which instantly refreshed me and prepared me for the next task ahead!

Tots

Transitioning to the tots room brought with it a flurry of activity, as naptime gave way to bustling energy and pattering feet. Engaging in practical tasks, like cleaning up after meals, sweeping the floors and re-arranging chairs and tables, gave me a newfound appreciation for the physical demands of the job after being office-based for so long. My back ached in places I didn’t know existed and I became aware of the stiffness in my joints.

When the children awoke, it was all go. They swarmed around me like excited little bumblebees. My job was to facilitate a creative activity using the felt tip pens and stamps. Feeling like Goldilocks, I crammed myself into one of the tiny chairs and spent the next 20 minutes making sure the children didn’t put the pens in their mouths...

One of the little girls cried when I left; it felt like a wrench and I found myself wondering how she was later on in the day (to which my colleague reassured me that she was absolutely fine). I have learned that children move on very quickly!

Lunchtime

Since it was the week leading up to Christmas, the chef prepared an extravagant holiday feast for the entire team. The spread included piping hot roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, assorted vegetables, stuffing and turkey, accompanied by Christmas crackers filled with cheesy jokes and chocolate pudding for dessert.

I relished the opportunity to bond with my colleagues, sharing laughter and jokes. The atmosphere felt like a genuine family gathering, with everyone displaying evident passion for their work and camaraderie towards each other.

Moreover, I appreciated seeing the wellbeing station set up in the corner of the staffroom, featuring a range of relaxation tools, uplifting quotes and information about accessing mental health and wellbeing supports. Witnessing this tangible manifestation of a company-wide initiative was a wonderful moment.

Toddlers and preschool

Working with the toddlers and preschoolers was a delight, and I was impressed at the level of imagination and care invested into every aspect of the children’s day.

It was within preschool that I found myself truly captivated. As children donned their festive attire and parents filled the room with anticipation, I marveled at the seamless orchestration of the Christmas concert and the palpable sense of pride that radiated from both educators and families alike.

In that moment, I couldn't help but feel a surge of gratitude for the opportunity to witness the magic of early childhood education unfold before my eyes.

Final reflections

Reflecting on my day as an Early Years Educator, I am struck by the profound impact it has had on my perspective as a manager. Beyond the logistical intricacies and operational challenges lies a deeper understanding of the inherent value of empathy, community and compassion in driving meaningful change within an organisation.

As leaders, it is vital for us to not only empathise with the experiences of our frontline colleagues but to actively engage with them, to walk in their shoes and to embrace the invaluable lessons that emerge from such immersion. By fostering a culture of empathy and understanding, we not only enhance employee morale and wellbeing but also pave the way for greater innovation, collaboration, and ultimately, success.

In the end, my day as an Early Years Educator served as a poignant reminder of the transformative power of empathy and the profound impact it can have on shaping the fabric of our organisations and communities alike. And for that, I am truly grateful.

 

More from Lucie Sweeney: Creating a wellbeing-centric culture in early years education – The people role

 


 

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