I am a childminder in Gloucestershire and have been childmiding for nearly 19 years.
I used to enjoyed my work but it was starting to take it’s toll on me and my mental health.
So, I took a break in 2019 and started a baby massage business and an holistic therapy business. This made me take a step back and look at my own wellbeing. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long and I returned to childminding in 2020 where I took the knowledge of my holistic training and started my Hygge in the Early Years Accreditation.
Before I started the Accreditation my setting consisted of bright colours but still a dark room. It had lots of plastic ‘noisy’ toys and numerous posters around the roomPlastic labels were on boxes making it look cluttered and scruffy. We did go outside to play but only because I ‘felt’ we should!
Since working my way through the Accreditation (and my previous knowledge of holistic health) I look at my ‘work’ in a different way.
I ‘see’ the children now and enjoy listening to and feeding off their interests. We have a slower pace at the setting and go out on nature walks every day.
Gone are the days of plastic toys (there are still some plastic as they do have their uses) but I introduced loose and natural parts for the children to use their imaginations more as I was finding specific toys only have one purpose and children were not experiencing the use of their imagination and coming up with their own ideas.
We focus on children’s mental health more now, discussing how they are feeling and how others might feel. This is a big part of our setting especially since COVID.
Our setting is brighter, letting in more natural light but also adding different lamps in darker corners. We have a large salt lamp which gives off a lovely gently glow during the day.
The walls are a more natural colour and we have added textures like cushions and throws to our settee. This is especially great for snuggling up on all together when we read stories. Yes, there is a TV in the room but is rarely on as we are out most mornings on an adventure in the woods or local park. This only goes on when the children need their ‘down time’ to rest their bodies and minds supporting their mental health.
Nature has been brought into the setting with plants scattered around and used as part of their play.
I have created a ‘nature’ shelf reflecting on the seasons which is there to encourage exploration and imagination.
Shelves and boxes are now natural without labels as I feel children find it exciting to see what’s in the baskets, encouraging independence and wonder.
We go to our local woods a lot more now and the freedom to explore is amazing. We use natural resources to be creative and learn through play. We are mindful when on our walks, often stopping to ‘see, hear, touch and smell’ our surroundings. The children now find the smallest of detail in objects which they wouldn’t have done before and would have gone charging off to see who could get to the tree first!
My ‘planning’ is now focused on each child’s interests with the odd theme to enhance their overall learning and we certainly play ‘in the moment’ which makes it more fun and exciting.
Our love of nature will always be part of our setting now and I will continue to support my own wellbeing in order to get the correct work/life balance.
By Angie B