The car broke down, your partner forgot to take care of a urgent errand, the kids left their lunchboxes at home and you can’t find the letter to call the doctor back.
And then, you go into work and your day involves a room full of babies and toddlers, who will spend all day dropping things, making mess, exploring their social boundaries and perhaps testing your patience at times.
Mindfulness, communication, empathy and peer support are what’s keeping the staff happy and buoyant each day, because we’ve invested in building a strong and resilient workforce who can cope with life, work, and the odd curve ball.
We know it’s working, because a new team member noticed a difference straight away.
She said she was able to ask for help – but hadn’t felt she could at previous nurseries.
The implication, was that she would have been embarrassed, or felt like she was burdening colleagues, or might have been seen as unprofessional, maybe not as competent.
New staff are invited to join regular KTB Kids mindfulness sessions with Nick Buckley, who specialises in mindfulness for the workplace.
They learn the basics – slowing down, breathing, creating a gap in-between the situation and your reaction and reflection too.
The course includes some guided mindfulness – audio provided by Nick for people to use every day, to remind them of how to use it and reinforce the techniques, which are useful for both work and home.
The aim is to build self-awareness and resilience, in a fast-paced world that sometimes is a bit like a merry-go-round that you can’t hop off!
We’ve all had workplace misunderstandings – someone said or did something that upset someone else but all that was needed was a quick question, to avoid the stewing, the worrying, the analysing, because often, the way we ‘take things’ or interpret them is usually the problem, not what’s actually happened.
Mindfulness helps us to get over things more quickly and move on – just like children do! They can have a big squabble with another child or even a parent but once it’s resolved, it’s over – they don’t usually bear a grudge and mindfulness encourages us too, as adults, to resolve and move on – a great technique for the workplace!
In the ideal world we’d all hop, skip and jump into the nursery just like our little ones do, but if something’s gone wrong, annoys us, upset us or has tipped us off kilter that day, knowing how to dampen down the ‘crisis’, be rational and move forward is key.
A note about language – we often use big words to talk about much smaller issues; nightmare, crisis, anxiety, dreading, disaster – but if we address the language we use and make it appropriate to the situation, then the situation itself has a more manageable label.
Forgetting to pay for the kids’ school dinners, dropping your keys in a puddle and leaving your phone behind don’t add up to a nightmare morning. It probably wasn’t awful and it definitely doesn’t mean it will be ‘one of those days’ – because it’s now in the past and the day could be brilliant if you allow the negative thoughts out and the positive ones in.
Katie said: “We’ve noticed a huge change in motivation and involvement since we first started mindfulness, and new staff find a culture of support, empathy and care. Their previous workplaces have operated on a blame and shame culture, which in itself, changes behaviour.
“Our staff are more involved with ideas for service development and are very open about when they need help. Communication has really opened up using the mindfulness techniques.
“If mistakes are made, we know it’s OK to either let people know or to speak with someone about what they can do next time. We look at remedy first, reflection and learning later.
“We’ve even had two members of staff who have really used mindfulness to cope with more responsibility at work and are carving career paths they may not have previously followed.” Nick says: “KTB is a very values-driven business with staff aware of the expectations and standards – because that’s the kind of workplace they want to be in.
“They have ‘psychological safety’ – where staff feel able to express a need, don’t have to cope alone, and, within reason for a safety-critical environment like a nursery, can make mistakes without expecting ridicule or draconian consequences.
“Promoting and offering wellbeing supports the achievement of these values and the influence on the children cannot be underestimated.
“Mindfulness is something we can find time for – we have time for it, but we just choose to fill that time with other things instead.
“Mindfulness really can have such a positive impact in the workplace and I’m pleased to hear such great feedback, not only from Katie but also from the team when I see them each month too.”