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Adjusting to a Child’s Allergy Diagnosis

Helping a family dealing with a new diagnosis can be challenging.  This is a conversation between a Director and a parent about a child with a food allergy.  I have had many conversations like this over the years with parents.

I have also been on the other side, as a parent with a child who has gotten a life changing diagnosis.  It can be hard.  Strike that.  It will be hard.  This parent has learned that a significant part of her/his life and that of the child in question will be different.  It will affect the child, siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers…the list is long.

As a Director we have to offer support and understanding.  Don’t let the parent horrible-ize or minimize the issue.  Help them to find resources.  Be the calm in the storm.  You got this!

Q: I’m struggling to help my family adjust after we found out one of our children has a serious allergy. Katie is only four years old, and she was just diagnosed with a wheat allergy.

How can I help my family accept the changes and help Katie?

Katie is our youngest, and her older siblings are struggling to understand what is happening, or why we have to make changes in the kitchen.

To keep Katie safe, we have to make big changes in our entire household.

One of the issues I’m seeing is that many members of our family, including my parents and sisters, don’t understand how serious the allergies are for Katie. They keep saying how it’s not as serious as a nut allergy. However, it’s serious for Katie, and she has horrible reactions to wheat.

What can I do to help them understand and keep Katie safe around them? I’m worried they’ll keep feeding her wheat. 

A: Food allergies should always be taken seriously because they can be unpredictable. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), patients can experience a variety of symptoms, including anaphylactic reactions. Allergies can be deadly for some patients.

It’s difficult for families to handle such a diagnosis in a young child. She may have to spend the rest of her life dealing with this condition, so it’s hard to accept it.

However, you’re taking the first step to help Katie by recognizing that she needs her entire family’s support. Allergies in a young child can lead to hospitalization and multiple doctor visits. It’s important for your entire family to recognize the severity of the situation.

You may want to talk to Katie’s doctor and ask for pamphlets or other printed information that you can share. Your extended family members may also want to attend some of Katie’s doctor appointments and ask questions.

Have a family meeting and discuss Katie’s condition. You’ll be able to address any questions or concerns they may have about her allergies.

Q: I like the idea of holding a family meeting to discuss Katie’s wheat allergy; however, I don’t think it will help with another issue. Katie’s doctor told me she’s very sensitive to the smallest amount of wheat. So we have to completely remove all the wheat in our kitchen because even a crumb can make her sick. That means we have to completely eliminate a lot of the food that our family loves.

My other children think I’m taking it too far and just want me to restrict a few shelves to be wheat-free. I want everyone to be happy, but I can’t take the risk of crumbs ending up in Katie’s food.

We’ve already had several visits to the ER because Katie’s food got contaminated with wheat.

How can I help my other children accept the changes we need to make for Katie?

A: Children can have a hard time accepting that a sibling has an allergy. In addition to the attention the sibling suddenly receives because of the diagnosis, the household tends to go through multiple changes.

Your children may not understand how serious Katie’s allergy is to her health.

You may want to purchase books about allergies or get other material that helps explain the dangers of allergies to children. Explain how Katie can end up in the hospital if she eats a crumb of wheat.

Your other children are part of Katie’s support network. Due to her young age, she may need them to be her voice in difficult situations that may involve wheat.

If your doctor has asked you to make big changes in the kitchen to keep Katie safe, then it’s important to follow these instructions.

Although your family may need time to adjust to the changes, they’ll learn to accept them. Katie’s health can’t be put in jeopardy every time you cook, so you have to follow the doctor’s advice.

Q: I intend to follow the doctor’s recommendations for Katie, but I’m still worried about how she’ll handle the allergy because she’s so young.

Katie is four and has a hard time understanding why she suddenly can’t eat some of the food she likes. She thinks she’s being punished or in trouble. She doesn’t believe me no matter what I say to calm her down.

What can I do to help Katie understand she has an allergy and isn’t being punished?

A: It’s important to explain the allergy to Katie on her level. She needs information that is easy for her to understand. She won’t be able to process medical jargon or understand what some of the reactions mean.

Your doctor may also have resources aimed at young children, such as books, posters, and other fun items that help children understand more about allergies. You can also search online for resources and ask other parents to help you find them.

Although you don’t want to scare her, Katie needs to know that eating wheat can make her sick. You may want to remind her about the recent ER visits you mentioned. It may be tempting to hide some of the serious issues from a young child, but her safety depends on understanding the importance. You’ll simply have to adjust the terminology to her level.

If Katie misses some of her favorite foods, experiment with creating new dishes she may like. You can find multiple cookbooks and online recipes that are designed for people with allergies. In time, she’ll find substitutes for her former favorite foods.

Instead of complaining about her health, you may want to direct all conversations to stay positive. In addition, Katie can benefit from feeling special at this time.

You may want to purchase a special ID bracelet that notes her allergy when she’s with others and get her allergy stickers. Let Katie participate by picking out her favorite colors and styles.

Q: I’m surrounded by family, but I feel alone with this issue.

No one else in our family has a wheat allergy, so Katie is the first. My husband doesn’t understand how she developed it and blames my difficult pregnancy for creating it. Our doctor states that my husband is wrong, and it’s not my fault.

Unfortunately, I still feel guilty. Between the shame and accusations, I feel like I’m dealing with Katie’s health issues on my own. 

I’m tired of dealing with everything on my own, and I need support. What can I do?

A: Try joining a local support group with other parents who have children with allergies.

Support groups can help you work on eliminating the guilt and shame you feel about Katie’s health. They can also help you learn more about keeping her safe. The group members can also offer advice and tips that can help your household transition to eliminating wheat.

If you can’t find a local support group, then consider joining an online version. You can find a variety of support groups on social media such as Facebook.

It sounds like you also want your family’s support.

It’s important to understand that a serious allergy diagnosis is difficult for some family members to handle and acknowledge. They may need more time to accept it and come to terms with Katie’s new diagnosis.

You may also benefit from family or individual therapy if you’re struggling with shame and guilt.

You don’t have to deal with these difficult emotions on your own, and therapists can help you cope.

Q: I understand I can join support groups, but they’ll be filled with strangers.

I want my husband to be part of my support net. However, he doesn’t seem interested in helping me educate the entire family about Katie’s allergies.

Instead, my husband tells the children and everyone else to go to me if they have questions.

I don’t mind answering their questions, but it would be nice to have his support and help. I can’t do everything on my own. I’m already struggling. My husband simply sits and doesn’t talk while I spend all of my energy trying to explain things to them.

What can I do to change this and make my husband understand I need his help with Katie’s health? The stress is starting to overwhelm me, and I’m worried that it will start to affect my own health.

A: This is a significant change that affects your whole household and Katie’s entire life. Your husband may still be trying to process the diagnosis and figure out how to help.

Your husband can still be an important part of your support network and make it easier to handle the upcoming battles you may face. However, you may just need to give him some time and space to adjust to Katie’s diagnosis.

Have a calm conversation with your husband and explain that you need his support right now. He may not understand that you don’t want to be the only one to answer questions. He needs to know that you want him to help educate the children and other family members about Katie’s health.

You can split the duties, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. For example, you can answer questions from your parents. Your husband can answer questions from your other children.

In addition, you can split other family obligations, so your stress levels are reduced. Try rotating with your husband in taking Katie to her doctor’s appointments or talking to her teachers.

With time and patience, your whole family will adjust to these changes and learn to support Katie in her new path.

Complete the form below for copy of the conversation as a resource to give out to parents &/or staff.

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Make Your Michael Jordan Moment

I want you to have a moment where you feel like Michael Jordan as a Director.  Your center is your court.  You should dominate it!

I am a basketball fan.  I have several heroes from that field, but Michael Jordan is someone everyone knows, or at least they think they do.  Millions of Nike’s Jordan sneakers have been sold over the years.  He still earns over $100 million a year, because he is such a part of the American culture.  He is the what we think of when we think EXCELLENCE.

But how did he get there and how can you emulate him?  He said, “I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but you still have to know the fundamentals.”  Did you take time to learn the fundamentals?  What are the fundamentals of Directing a child care center?

  • Professionalism
  • Marketing
  • Curriculum Development
  • Staff Recruitment & Training
  • Communication

These are the core of the Texas Director’s Director Credentialing courses and most of our ongoing trainings. There are other things you need to know, but these are the core.  If you have these down cold, then the minor crises can be handled.  

If you don’t feel confidence in your fundamentals, reach out to us.  We can help you with training or individual coaching.

A child falls on the playground, breaking an arm.  As a professional who has trained her staff well, you know that first aid will be rendered, the child will be comforted, that then the parens will be communicated with well, and then the paperwork will be completed.

OR

The city cuts off the water to your street while they are upgrading lines or the road, whatever.  It doesn’t matter why they did it, but it happened and now you have a situation.  Go out & use your communication skills to find out how long all this is going to last & help them to understand why this is a huge issue for your children.  If it is going to be more than 5 minutes, lean on marketing, curriculum development & professionalism to determine what you can do that will provide a quality day for your students.  You may have to call the parents to get the children because you can’t provide care, or you might be able to create an impromptu field trip to the neighborhood park, using their plumbing, facilities & picnic tables.  If so, just call, text, email parents to let them know how the plans have changed.

Once we have the fundamentals down we move into proficiency.  

“I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat. “-Michael Jordan  We have to keep working on things.  Practice.  Drill.  Do it again.  And again.  And Again.  Walk through the program every day.  Talk to parents every morning & afternoon.  Do tours.   When you are done, evaluate how it went.  Do you need to shift something?  Are you making your free throws?  BTW tours are the child care version of the free throw.

Jordan is faithful: “Be true to the game, because the game will be true to you. If you try to shortcut the game, then the game will shortcut you. If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you. That’s truly about the game, and in some ways that’s about life too. ” Are you being consistent?  He was. Keep going.  Get better, focus on the fundamentals.  

Some folks have a hard time seeing themselves as Michael Jordan.  OK, fine.  You don’t want to be the icon of excellence.  It can be scary to reach that high.  How about trying to be his coach?  A lot of what you do is coaching the staff, parents & children.  The coach he credits with getting him to excellence was University of North Carolina Coach, Dean Smith.  “Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life.”  Can you be Coach Smith?  “I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent.”  Be the base for your people to reach excellence.

If you need a coach of your own, so that you can get your center court moment, I am here for you.  Coaching & training is what I do.  Get your Michael Jordan Moment!

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Focus on the fundamentals.  Get a coach if you need one.  Practice.  Evaluate.  Do it again.  Then when it is game time, you will shoot the game winning shot.  Stand your ground & take your shot.

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Stupid Stuff Directors Do

I have done a lot of stupid stuff during the early years of being a Director.

Most of it was because I didn’t have a mentor & a lack of experience/knowledge in how this business was different from most.

The thing about not knowing something is that you usually end up paying for it big time while trying to figure it out.

And I did.

Strategies have gotten better over the years, but I still see Directors making many of the same mistakes I used to make. I’m going to share 4 of those mistakes with you today. I consider them to be pretty big.

Pay close attention because these mistakes cost time, money and energy and have even caused some centers to close their doors for good:

Mistake #1: Not Signing Up Clients for My Waiting List.

Telling parents to go somewhere else sometimes seem like the right thing to do.  Sometimes parent call & want information about your program and over the course of the conversation you find out that the classroom they would need is full.  S you tell them you have no space at this time & suggest other centers for them to call.

Great, but what if they are really a good fit for you?  Do you actually KNOW that all the children in that class room will be with you next week, next month?  The number of times I turned someone away, just to have a spot open up days later is mind boggling!

Go ahead & schedule a tour.  Treat them just like any other potential client.  I now ask everyone at the end of the tour if they would like to fill out an application form.  For $15, and some brief questions, they can secure their spot on your list on your mailing list.

Now you have their contact information and permission to keep in touch with them even if the end up enrolling elsewhere either because you don’t have space or they made a different decision.  The newsletter should be full of useful information: when is the the Watermelon Thump happening & what is it anyway?  What car seat has been recalled?  How do you get a baby to sleep through the night? What dentist can do the whole family?  Is there a local family restaurant that will pay you to print a coupon for $3 off mac& Cheese kids dinners?  Everyone will want to be on your newsletter.

Sending people off to other centers first, puts you at risk. But, that’s exactly what I did when I started my business. I would talk to folks on the phone & then send them on their merry way. What did that do to my income? It caused it to go up and down drastically.

Not only that, it’s also hard to have a center full of happy parents if they don’t really know how much better than everyone else you are. It usually takes least 3 months for a family to be really settled into a center. By signing clients up for the newsletter & waiting list, you’re increasing your chances of enrolling families even after they start somewhere else.

Benefits of Avoiding This Mistake: You get happier families and you remove yourself from financial traps.

 

Mistake #2: Not Having a Clear and Specific Market.

At first I was just any old child development center.  I cared for infants through school age & didn’t have any specific culture.  I would take anyone who seemed interested.  This meant I got a lot of families who needed things I couldn’t provide or who wanted a different type of program. Once I started focusing on who I wanted as clients, it got a lot better.

Which do you think did better, the general CDC of the focused one?  You’re right.  The focused one.  People knew what I was selling. Over the years I’ve had a center that was an adapted Montessori, one that use the Reggio Emilia Methods, one that focused on low income households & one that focused on academic readiness.  I had focus each time.

That’s what I recommend you do too. Get really specific on your market.

Even though you can have success as a general center, I believe you scale faster when you have a clear market that you talk to.

Just take a look at this example…

If you had two centers on the same street, one can care for any children under 12, and the other one helps single parent families, who do you think “newly divorced” women are going to pay attention to? Most likely, the center who helps “newly single” parents.

Benefits of Avoiding This Mistake: The more specific and clear you are about your market, the better your chances are of attracting the kind of people who will stick around and have the greatest success.

 

Mistake #3: Chasing Unhappy Clients. 

There was a time I used to bend my program into all kinds of crazy directions to keep a client.  I increase my hours (for 2 families), installed a camera monitoring system, adding free Spanish classes, and I don’t even know what else.  I would work my heart out during because I just knew that was the only way to keep my center in the black.

Turns out that’s one of the fastest ways to go broke. I eventually realized that when I solved people’s problems that no one else had, I wasn’t giving them a reason to stay.  I was costing myself $$$$ and staff stress.

When a parent is unhappy, see if it something that really needs to be fixed (a hot classroom) or not.  During your conversation with the parent, it’s best to unearth their problems, show them the “light at the end of the tunnel” about this issue and show them how you address their most pressing needs (happy child, quality care, good education, fun play environment & convenience to work/home).  If they want to leave….let them.

Benefits of Avoiding This Mistake: You leave your existing program in good shape & allow those who don’t fit to self-select OUT of your hair.

 

Mistake #4: Providing Childcare For Free.  

The last mistake I want to share with you is caring for children for free. I used to hear all the time in the early years that the best way to keep good staff was to give them childcare for free.

I don’t believe that that’s the best way to get good teachers. You need to be getting paid something for having a child at the center.  This includes 50% of tuition with no cap.  Pay staff well, give them benefits, but nothing should be free.  People don’t value things that they don’t pay for.  Watch a kid with their parent’s IPhone, if you don’t believe me.

Another way Directors give away their services is to not collect tuition.  To let parents slide.  “They will pay next Wednesday, it’s no big deal.” Is what I used to say.  Wednesday became Thursday, then Friday and finally Monday.  That is a lot of service provided without payment.  Would HEB let you have your food for 5 days without paying for it?

When you provide care for free, the parents aren’t as invested in the results. I’ve found that when people pay they appreciate and the more that they pay the more they pay attention.

Benefits of Avoiding This Mistake: You don’t waste your time with people who may not respect you or the work you do.

 

Now that you know 4 of the biggest mistakes coaches make, you can avoid them.

You’ll notice your business becomes much more stable and scales a lot faster.

Leave a comment and share what mistakes you used to make in your program that you no longer do.

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15 Years of Training Directors

Kate and I (Carrie) have been teaching people how to direct childcare programs for 15 years. Did you ever wonder

Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?

Sorry.  My Texas roots are showing.  Every time I tried to just type where did we come from, that song just popped into my head.  Anyway…

Back in 2001 we were both working side gigs with a non-profit organization, focusing on helping women grow their businesses.  I was providing training and support to Registered Family Home providers and small child care centers.  Kate was administering a grant focused on job opportunities for low income  women.

They approached me to write a curriculum for a Director Credentialing course, but said they wanted to have an academic teach it.  That didn’t make sense to us.  Why not have the instructor be someone who has actual experience in the field and an academic write the text?  How could they answer questions that came up in class?  They wanted to ensure that the text hit all the points that a new Director needed to know, and so they wanted a “practitioner” to write it.  OK, I can get behind that.  I decided if I was going to create the materials, I darned well wanted to teach it!  Kate agreed, and we set off to create what is now Texas Director.

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We researched, compiled our knowledge, filled out paperwork, and found a place to teach the first class.  We talked through everything that we wished we had known when we started from marketing tips to insurance to classroom arrangement techniques.  Writing the book was much harder than we thought it would be.  We were literally finishing it while we were teaching that first class.

We tweaked it during each class for the first year.  Sometimes it was just that we noticed a place where we needed to add punctuation, but other times we realized that we had not explained a key point well enough.

We knew that adults retain information better if they have short activities after each topic.  So, we had a quiz or work product that corresponded to each area. When the new Director was done learning about goal setting and all the ways they can use that tool to improve their center, there was a goal setting worksheet to go through to cement the knowledge and give a chance to practice the skill.

Everyone who has ever worked in pre-k knows that to really learn something, you have to actually do it.  You can teach Tommy that his name is spelled T-O-M-M-Y and show him the letters, demonstrate how you write it, but he won’t be able to sign-in in the morning until he holds the pencil and tries.  It will be a mess the first time, but he won’t master it if he hasn’t tried once.  That was the core of our teaching and evaluating philosophy.

It still is today.  A lot has changed in 15 years, but that concept and our commitment to making sure our Directors have what they need to start their careers off strong hasn’t.  If you or a friend is thinking about becoming a Director, let us help you.  You won’t regret it.

My time with Texas Director’s has been life changing! Your company
helped me really take charge of my career and give an amazing 
learning experience to lots of children, including my own daughter.
I have been working with children for over 17 years and obtained my Directors
License about 10 years ago! I have had the privilege of working
in so many different types of centers.
From the credential program and trainings you provide, I have learned the aspects of a great 
Center! – C. Monk

 

 

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How to Save More Money on Your Marketing Budget

Did you know that it typically costs a child care program at least five times more to obtain a new family than it does to retain a family?

And, for each one percent increase in family retention, that transforms into a seven percent increase in profits?

So, what does that really mean for you?

It means customer retention makes a lot more sense (and cents) than customer acquisition.

As a general rule, directors don’t feel comfortable with marketing. You go to all the expense and effort of attracting a new family and having them register and that’s something to be grateful for. But if it stops there and you let the family walk away without some plan in place to keep the relationship going, it’s a real waste. It’s not just one lost customer, it’s lost revenue and referrals that might have been.

A better tactic is for directors to focus more of their time, energy, and resources on nurturing and developing that relationship instead of being content. If you provide continual great service to satisfied customers then they’re going to refer others to you as well.

It just makes sense to focus more effort on marketing and selling to the people who already have given you money at least once. Instead, most directors continually focus their energy on trying to get more new families.

Of course, it takes work to build that relationship and obviously it’s one thing to get them, it’s another thing to keep them, and still another thing to keep them satisfied. How do you do that?

By continually providing them with the information and resources that they need. It’s really as simple as that and it’s a worthwhile use of your energy.

Here are some ideas for building on that relationship whether for an online or offline business:

  • Throw in an unexpected bonus when they sign up for your program.
  • Follow up with a thank you note or phone call. And at the same time see how they’re doing with your program and get feedback on what other services you can provide.
  • Send out a physical newsletter or an autoresponder series of emails and ezines to continue sharing helpful tips.
  • Connect with them on social media and refer them to other beneficial resources.

Successful marketing is all about making your customers feel special and well cared for.

Take advantage of this opportunity to have us set up your first Parent Survey or your Newsletter on MailChimp. Click here to go to our FACEBOOK PAGE and tell us TODAY, why you need our HELP!

Let’s connect,

Kate Young

 

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How to Help Someone Who’s Fighting Cancer

I had said about a month ago that I would talk a bit about my mother-in-law’s terminal diagnosis.  She has pancreatic cancer.  We are piling up memories.  Making sure that the younger grandchildren have time with her is a high priority.  Both my husband and I are able to offer support and BE THERE.  Not everyone can.

Cancer, unfortunately, is a fairly common affliction. Chances are good that you’ll eventually know someone who’s fighting their way through the disease. It may be a child at your center, a staff member or a person in your personal life. Avoid being that friend who doesn’t come around or call when someone you know is dealing with serious illness. Step up to be the one your friend or loved one can count on to help.

Consider these ways to help a loved one fight one of the toughest battles of their life:

  1. State, “I’m here to help you.” Then, mean it. Be definite and specific since a person with cancer needs people who will push forward and help them get the daily things done so they can rest and recuperate from chemotherapy and radiation treatments if they are going through treatment.  If they aren’t currently having treatment, they will still need help.
  2. Rather than ask what you can do, say what you will Be specific. “I can pick up your kids from school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while you’re getting chemotherapy. They can stay at the center and play with my kids until you get home. Will that work for you?”
  3. Cook dinner for your friend and their family every week. Make lasagna and buy a bag of salad and drop it off. Brew a big pot of soup and take it over. Make a Crockpot full of pulled pork, buy coleslaw at your local deli, and drop them off with fresh buns for quick sandwiches.
  • Providing nourishment and pre-made meals for your cancer-fighting friend can be the most loving thing to do for them and their family members. 
  • Be aware that they will probably have a smaller appetite than usual while undergoing treatment.
  1. Take them to therapy. One of the scariest parts of dealing with cancer is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. It can be a 3- or 4-hour session at the cancer treatment center followed by them getting a contraption strapped on that has an I.V. connected to it that continues to deliver more medication over the next few days.  Don’t feel you have to talk the who time.  Being comfortable sitting with someone in silence is golden.
  • Transporting to and from these sessions can be so helpful for family members that are overloaded with the stress of dealing with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Plus, family members often must continue to work to bring money into the household and can’t be available every day to transport.
  1. Ask when the best time is for them to receive calls. Keep in mind that your loved one who has cancer feels very tired and will be trying to nap and rejuvenate as much as possible. Make arrangements for when you’ll call so it won’t disturb them. You could also ask them to text or call you when they feel like talking.  When you are there pay attention to their cues, and cut the visit short if they are in pain or tired.  I know you miss spending time with them, but they may not be up to it for as long as you are.
  2. Be sensitive and understanding. If you’ve ever needed to be aware of someone’s feelings, it’s when a friend is coping with cancer. Your friend might be feeling cranky and annoyed. Or they might be crying and depressed.
  • Sometimes, if you just listen and acknowledge that their reactions are normal and they’re entitled to their feelings, it’s all that’s necessary to lend support.
  • Find something you can do with them that helps them feel like their old self.  For my mother-in-law it is flowers and gardening.  Is there a way to create a small way to bring that back into their life?
  1. Deal appropriately with your own feelings first. You might be feeling pretty devastated about the news that your loved one has cancer. Allow yourself to cry about it with your spouse or another friend before you talk with your sick friend. The image I used for this blog is the ring theory of grief.  When you are in pain you want to express that pain to others who are affected.  The key element is to share with people in the same circle or those further out.  Don’t go inward, they are dealing with it on more levels than you are.  If the people in the middle want to talk with you- fine.  Otherwise, share outward.
  • Lean on your journal to help you process your feelings and work to accept what’s happening regarding your loved one’s health. Giving yourself a day or two to adjust to the news before speaking to the friend with cancer (if possible) will help you focus more on how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.
  1. Make a consistent effort to take a positive approach. The fact is that many people survive cancer these days. Tell her you’re proud of how she’s handling the whole thing. Acknowledge how she continues to do whatever is necessary to cope with her illness. The more positive energy you can bring to her, the better she’ll fare through her recovery.

Do what you can to be a consistent, strong support to a loved one fighting cancer. You’ll be so glad you did.

Subscribe to this blog, to keep up with what is going on here.  We cover different topics that relate to directing child care centers.

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My First Time

Being a Director almost always also means being the marketing department.  I have just finished my first ever time to run promotions for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.  We have had them before.  I just wasn’t in charge of them.  I am not at all sure I did it well.  But I did it and that is a thing to be proud of.

Being a Director means I have to do things I am not 100% comfortable doing.  I remember the first time I got in front of a tv camera.  I was SWEATING!  But it was free publicity for my business and they wanted to talk to someone with skin in the game.  I was very excited that they called me.  I had been courting the station to some degree for a few months: watching as many news shows as I could and sending in email comments about news items that related to my business.  My childcare center was downtown, so it wasn’t hard to find things that were relevant.  Anything that had to do with downtown, children or families was liable to get a quick note from me.  This was well over a decade ago, so they weren’t as swamped by email as they are now.  I stood out, so I got a call and people heard about my center.

How do we stand out in today’s market?  Sending an email is unlikely to do it.  We all get far too many to count now.  We need clients to know we are here and are relevant.  We can advertise.  Lord knows, I do.  Everybody does.  How much do you believe in the ad copy you read or hear every day?  10%?  You may be conveying 100% true information, but people filter it out.  Marketing is more than buying a well executed google ad.  It is getting in front of people in different settings, so your customers start to know like and trust you.

How do you position your self as a knowledgable and likable person?  Getting on the local news might still be a good way to get noticed, but how do you get the news to notice you?   I have had some success with hand written notes.  They are the rarity now that email was back in the dark ages.  Tweeting images also has some traction.  You have to engage with them, build a relationship.

Texas Director helps a lot of my centers get into the paper.  Local papers need local content to stay relevant.  Having a great event that highlights a worthy cause or brings in dignitaries, is the key strategy there.  The images you send also play a central role.  Make sure you send both portrait and landscape pictures, because you never know what space they need to fill.  Believe me pictures of cute kids sell!  Your write up of the event should be as close to newspaper copy as you can make it.  The less work the editor or beat reporter has to do, the more likely you are to get in the paper.

The other time-tested way to get in front of your audience in a marketing capacity to build rapport is public speaking.  Half of you are shaking your head right now.  That is OK.  If there isn’t anything related to what you do that you can speak passionately about for 15 minutes you are excused.  Everyone else is still in this.  If you would rather poke your own eye out than talk to people you don’t know, then don’t talk to people you don’t know.  Talk to people you do know.  Do you have a book club, mother’s group, gaggle of gals you eat cheese cake with?  Those are your public.  Talk to them about your passion for your work.  Get comfortable with it.  Eventually one of those friends will say, “Hey, my friend Suzie was just talking about her problems in that area.  I need to put you in touch with each other.”  Voila.  Your marketing just worked!  Once you have done that a few times you might be ready to move on to  networking events.  I wrote about those on earlier so check it out if you aren’t sure your up to them.

This type of marketing is much more in my comfort zone than running advertising campaigns.  That is why it was my turn to run one.  I had to stretch my wings.  It may take a while, but I will get the hang of it.  I may never like it, but it is important that I know how it is done so that I can talk intelligently with my team who focus on that area and with clients who have marketing challenges.  Let me know about something new you have tried and how it worked.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Giving Thanks

I have been blessed to be able to work in early childhood education for more than 25 years.  I started off as an assistant in a lab school and have had pretty much every job available in center.  Amazing!

How many people get to earn their living in something that makes such a difference in the world?  Here at Texas Director we help men and women develop their leadership talents so that they can help hundreds of children.  Hundreds of children touched by each Director, and we have helped thousands of Directors. If you do the math, that means that hundreds of thousands of families have been affected by what I do.   SoI want to thank you for allowing me to help you.  The scope of what we do amazes me.

What you do each day is so important.  You are shaping the populace of tomorrow.  How you run your center affects how the families view their community.  The tenor of your classrooms sets the children up to be the best versions of themselves.  You help your staff be able to do their often stressful jobs with enthusiasm and skill.  You are a resource in your community.  How amazing!

It is difficult to remember to be thankful for what we get to do on a daily basis.  Sometimes, when there is a stomach flu wreaking havoc in the twos class, there doesn’t feel like there is much to be thankful for.  But remember when little Jaime brought you the picture he drew just for you?  Not many engineers have that happen on a Thursday.  What about when a teacher brought you a snack because they thought you could use it?  What a gift to work with such caring people!

Take time today to think about what you are most thankful for in your job.  Writing down one thing you are thankful for on the calendar before you leave for the day, is a great way to catch those moments.  I bet there was one today.   Share it below, to inspire other Directors.

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Creative exploits alleviate stress

Here is an affirmation that I created for when I get stuck and need help reminding myself that creativity is important.  Sometimes that means writing, but most of the time as a director my creativity is tapped in problem solving and lesson planning.  Hope it helps you.

As life throws a challenge my way, I respond positively to avoid feeling stressed.My response to tough situations is to engage my creativity.

When I take a time out to create something new, I feel like I am replacing negative energy with positivity. Inspired activities allow me to dig deep into my soul for a light that brightens the world.

Writing soothes my emotional burdens and releases my tensions.

My words both acknowledge and empower me.Being honest about my feelings is the first step to releasing their weight from my being. I follow up those open and honest words with words of empowerment and resolve. This is my creative process.

Although my singing voice leaves much to be desired, I sing anyway. Expressing myself through song lifts my spirit. The lyrics and melodies that I write are therapeutic.

My creativity pulls me out of the darkness and renews my spirit.

My artistry is a blessing. It builds me from the inside out. It fortifies my core to defend against any challenge in life.

Today, I am blessed because I know the value of my creativity. My difficult situations are more manageable today because I spend time being imaginative. Being transported to another world through inspiration gives me a chance to rebuild.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  • 1.   How else, other than through art, can I exercise my creativity?
  • 2.   In what other ways am I able to alleviate stress?
  • 3.   What value do I place on creativity?

PDF version of this affirmation available