If you’re a parent or work regularly with children, you may have learned how important it is to take time for yourself to refresh and regroup. Research shows a correlation between parents’ emotional state and their ability to respond to their children’s behavior in a healthy manner. If a parent is overwhelmed, stressed and fatigued, it can impact how they interact with their children, especially when addressing challenging behavior.
“Self-care” is not just valuable for parents, but also for caregivers who work in the children’s homes day in and day out. Since it is so valuable, we consider it one of the seven essential components of trauma-informed care. To that end, Back2Back staff is working to support children’s homes by providing opportunities for caregivers to receive care, so they can return to the children’s homes renewed and ready to serve.
In March, Back2Back hosted a self-care retreat at a mountain cabin for 10 caregivers from Douglas, Imperio de Amor, Mama Paulita’s and Rancho del Rey children’s homes.
When planning the retreat, Sammy Matthews, a member of Back2Back’s Trauma Competent Care Team shared, “We were given two and a half hours with the caregivers to do whatever we thought would serve them best. Our original idea was to provide some kind of training in childcare. But as a team, we decided what they really needed was not to be talked at, but to relax and connect with one another. So, after sharing about self-care, we gave their two and half hours back to them and let them choose activities that would fill their tanks.”
Staff shared about essentials of self-care: quiet time to process, adequate sleep, a big-picture perspective, burn-out remedies, a network of support and recreational outlets, such as hobbies and pastimes. Then, the caregivers choose from a variety of relaxing activities, such as a massage with essential oils, manicures and nature hikes. Almost every woman waited their turn for a manicure with Anna Valdez, Back2Back staff.
The activity they enjoyed most was free time. Whether spent hiking outdoors, curling up with a book and a blanket, listening to music or simply having uninterrupted conversation, each caregiver enjoyed having time to just relax.
Sammy Matthews, Back2Back staff shared, “A few caregivers told me they did not realize how badly they needed even just a few hours for themselves.”
After a snack of donuts, coffee, chocolates and tacos, the caregivers left with renewed minds and full bellies. Back2Back staff are looking forward to planning their next event for the caregivers.