Child Care


Several years ago I was given a notepad with the printed heading, “Stressed!  It’s just desserts spelled backwards.”  I enjoyed the quote and passed it on to friends, then forgot about it and eventually the pad ended up in the drawer of my desk.  You know the kind of drawer – the one full of stuff you know you will need “some time.”  Well, my life has been pretty stressful recently and that reminded me of the note pad.  I pulled it out, looked at it, and thought about it.  It didn’t help.  I’m still stressed (but I’m enjoying a very delicious quinoa and chocolate granola bar at the same time).

Change is always stressful and this is a change time of year.  School starts tomorrow and parents everywhere are preparing to turn their clocks to “school time.”  Parents of kindergarteners and college freshmen and watching their babies begin a new phase of their lives.  My mother-in-law is also beginning a new phase of her life.  At 97 she is finally giving up her independence to live in an assisted living facility.  It was her choice, but it is a big change to her and her family.

There are all types of changes that occur during our lifetimes and change frequently produces stress.  There’s a feeling that you have lost control.  If not dealt with it can lead to serious illness.  Parents and caregivers know that change is a fact of life, so the trick is to find a way to deal with it, move past it, and move on.  After doing some research on the subject, I found the following list of suggestions on how to deal with stress:

Tips for dealing with stress (from

  • Don't worry about things you can't control, such as the weather.
  • Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
  • Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a job interview.
  • Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat.
  • Work to resolve conflicts with other people.
  • Talk with a trusted friend, family member or counselor.
  • Set realistic goals at home and at work. Avoid over-scheduling.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Eat regular, well-balanced meals and get enough sleep.
  • Meditate.
  • Participate in something you don't find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies.

I’m going to try the suggestions on the list, starting with working to solve my littler problems.  I’ll talk to family and friends, try to get more rest – and maybe I’ll even start exercising.  Until then I’ll just dance with the children in the center.  That’s a big time stress buster!

Supporting Resilience in Children

(from “Exchange Every Day”)


As Parents and caregivers, we try to keep children safe by protecting them from stress and trauma.  Unfortunately, it’s not always possible.  Adults can, however, promote resilience in children by fostering protective factors that can ease the negative effects of stress and trauma.  The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress.”  "Resilience is the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change, bounce back, and overcome the odds," write Nefertiti Bruce and Karen Cairone, in “Socially Strong and Emotionally Secure.” They describe these protective factors that help strengthen resilience in young children:


Attachment: "The mutual, strong, long-lasting relationships between a child and significant adults...The attachment bonds that children form in these early years often predict the quality of relationships they will have throughout life.”

Initiative: "The child's ability to use independent thought and action to meet his or her needs....Strong initiative in the early years prepares children to safely, actively, and eagerly explore their worlds.”

Self-control: "The child's ability to experience a range of feelings and express them using the words and actions that society considers appropriate....Children with healthy self-control in the preschool years typically have strong interpersonal qualities such as self-confidence and self-esteem."

Children need high-quality care, opportunities for developing and maintaining relationships, adequate nutrition, and support from families, educators, and communities. When these and other protective factors are in place, children experience positive development and have the internal adaptive resources to cope with any trauma and stress they may encounter.


Yesterday I put a turkey hat on my head and walked into the 3 year olds’ classroom, while they were sitting down to eat lunch.  Now this is not my typical headgear; the hat consists of a turkey head on a long neck, with two dangling long skinny legs hanging from either side.  The hat had been donated and it just seemed like the thing to do at that moment.  The results were priceless:  “Miss Cindy has a chicken on her head!”  The children dissolved in giggles.  I don’t know who enjoyed the moment more, the children or me.  After a long morning of preparing lunch, dealing with paperwork, answering the phone, and all the myriad details of a typical child care Monday morning, suddenly there was joy.


“Joy” is on my mind today.  One of our pastors is leading a book study called, “Choosing Joy,” and that is her topic for her sermon this week.  I have not had the opportunity to join the group or read the book, but in creating a children’s lesson and bulletin for the Sunday service, I’ve done some reading on the topic.  In that reading I came upon a quote:  “Joy springs from within; no one makes you joyous; you choose joyfulness” (author unknown).


One of the websites I discovered is called, “Spirituality & Practice – Resources for Spiritual Journeys.”  On the site I found the following:


Joy is an essential spiritual practice growing out of faith, grace, gratitude, hope, and love. It is the pure and simple delight in being alive. Joy is our elated response to feelings of happiness, experiences of pleasure, and awareness of abundance. It is also the deep satisfaction we know when we are able to serve others and be glad for their good fortune.


Invite joy into your life by staging celebrations. Toast moments of happiness you notice as you go through your day. Dance — jump for joy — as often as possible. Life is not meant to be endured; it is to be enjoyed.”


Now, I’m not suggesting you walk around with a “chicken” on your head everyday (although it might be interesting).  What I am planning to do is make “choosing joy” a daily gift to myself.  So now I will ignore the rain falling outside my window and focus on the laughter of the children down the hall.  And I will find ways to “Scatter joy” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) as I go through my day.  I hope you can find a way to dance through your day (and the Lee Ann Womack song and video might help!) and that you find and choose joy.

Kids and Eating Healthy

One of the joys of working as a child care director is dealing with the regular influx of new rules and regulations set forth by the great state of New York.  Many of them make sense and all of them are geared towards ensuring that children in child care are kept safe.  But, there are so many!  It can get overwhelming.  One new emphasis of the child care world is healthy eating for children – and that is something I am happy to work with.


I have never met a parent who has never had any eating issues with his or her child.  It’s the nature of children to test, question, and push limits and food they have some control over.  So the potential for disputes exists.  You may have heard some of these phrases, or even used them yourself:  “If you don’t eat one more bite you are going to be in trouble;” “See, that didn’t taste so bad, did it;” or, “stop crying and I will give you a cookie.”  The problem is that each of those phrases can have a big negative impact on developing a child’s healthy eating habits.


One way to increase a child’s willingness to try something new is by using positive language as it is introduced.  Use phrases that point out the sensory qualities of the food:  “This is a kiwi – it tastes sweet, like a strawberry.”  Help children recognize when they are hungry or full:  “Is your stomach telling you that you are full?”  Give your child the feeling that he or she is making the choice:  “Which one is your favorite?”  “Everybody likes different foods, don’t they?”  An important factor is removing food as a reward.  Using a cookie as a treat when a child eats his or her vegetables makes some foods seem better than others.  Reward your child with attention and kind words, hugs and talks.


Child care programs in New York State are now required to “be in compliance with the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program meal patterns.”  Our program is now distributing pamphlets called “Together We Can Raise Healthy Children,” to each of our families.  Our parent’s bulletin board contains a number of informative articles and ideas for families of young children, relating to health and good nutrition.  To learn more about the CACFP, check out their web site at  PromiseLand will also begin offering a “recipe of the week” on our Facebook page.  Check out the recipe for our child-friendly “Super Smoothie.”  It’s simple and delicious and perfect for a hot summer day!

Getting the Bugs Out

It’s definitely summer – hot, sticky, and buggy!  Many of the children at the center are apparently delicious, at least to bugs, as a lot of them are sporting a variety of bug bites.  There are over the counter sprays you can purchase, but most of them are not good either for children or the environment.  A PromiseLand parent / board member just sent me a link to a site with some recipes for homemade bug spray, using items you may already have at home.  They look simple, sound like they would smell pretty good and, according to my “source,” are working for her daughter: she doesn’t mind wearing it and she has fewer bites – so, the link and recipes are printed below!


Essential Oil Bug Spray

·             Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint

·             Natural Witch Hazel

·             Distilled or boiled Water

·             Vegetable glycerin (optional)

How to Make Homemade Bug Spray with Essential Oils

1.          Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water

2.          Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top

3.          Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using

4.          Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, “Cajeput,” Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

Fresh or Dried Herbs Bug Spray Ingredients

·             Distilled water

·             Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol

·             Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender, etc. I recommend using at least one herb from the mint family. Basil is also said to repel mosquitoes and I’ve used fresh basil leaves in the garden with great success before!

How to Make Bug Spray from Fresh or Dried Herbs

1.          Boil 1 cup of water and add 3-4 TBSP of dried herbs total in any combination from the above. I use 1 TBSP each of peppermint, spearmint, catnip and lavender, and also throw in a couple of dried cloves.

2.          Mix well, cover and let cool (covering is important to keep the volatile oils in!)

3.          Strain herbs out and mix water with 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Store in a spray bottle in a cool place (fridge is great because then its nice and cool!)

4.          Use as needed. Added bonus: it smells great and is very refreshing to the skin!

(Thank you to

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