On a windy Morning late in October I drove with a few local (to me…Stirling) amazing child care providers to a winery in Prince Edward County. We were met by equally amazing child care providers and had a fantastic day getting to know each other a learn about self care.
The setting was Huff Estates. Located on the second floor of the Inn was a large conference room with windows overlooking the vineyards. Although it was a damp day the sun managed to peak through the clouds highlighting the autumn colours. The women gathered in the conference room chatting about morning adventures and daycare shenanigans. A total of 7 child care providers, some currently licensed with Little Lambs, others working towards being licensed were present. Myself, the owner of Little Lambs and Danielle our RECE were also present.
We started our morning with an ice breaker: a little activity to get creativity flowing and relationships building. It was after all the first time many of these women had met. The materials were simple: pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks. The objective: to create. No guidance or instructions were given. In the end we had created many different masterpieces (tree sculptures, a face mask, a game of x's and o's, jewelry, flowers and more). The idea was to show that given materials and no instructions children (like ourselves) will create and explore. This self exploration is unhindered when allowed to go "outside the lines". Gone are the days of cut and paste activities as these stifle children's imaginations.
Next it was time for a more serious discussion. On Tuesday, October 24, 2017 communities across Ontario dressed in Purple to break the silence and show their commitment to children's rights to safety and well being. On Dress Purple day the Ontario Children's Aids Societies sought community support to recognize that it takes a village to keep kids safe. Everybody in the community plays a role in supporting children's rights. In honour of this we took a few moments to refresh our knowledge of "duty to report". We discussed proper documentation, provider/agency responsibilities and procedures for suspected child abuse/neglect.
Back on track, it was almost time for our team building wine tour adventure but first proper introductions were in order. As one by one the women introduced themselves I was completely blown away by the openness, honesty, passion for child care and intelligence this group of women presented. I was struck with gratitude that these women chose to partner with Little Lambs and frankly had lots of nice things to say about me. This was a day I planned to cater to my providers. To encourage their own self worth and care and unprepared I received this from them. It was to me a beautiful moment.
As promised wine tours were in order. Together we walked from the Inn to the Huff Estates Winery. We were greeted by a rather humorous sommelier. He stood behind the counter telling us of fruit flies and the exquisite breakfast he had prepared for his wife. We were lead past the barrel room up to the tanks and crushing machines. Our story teller continued to humour us as he explained the wines grown in the area and the history of Huff's Estates. Really we were there for the wine, but we did enjoy his tales. Back to the counter we walked and were treated to a Rose, white and a red wine. Next we enjoyed a delicious lunch (too many stories were shared to recount here). Again I felt blessed. The women gathered at this table appeared to mesh really well. Lunch was filled with laughter and new friendship.
Back to business we settled in the conference room. Sandie Sidsworth, the Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (Belleville), spoke for just shy of hour. Many were left wanting more. Her way of speaking to the group about mental self care was uplifting and honest. In fact even those who don't normally like "that type of thing" enjoyed this session. She was a hard act to follow but Austin from Quinte Ortho did a pretty good job. He took little time in telling us how "nuts" we all were for choosing this career. The emotional strain and physical fatigue apparently isn't his cup of tea. However Austin applauded the work we do and spoke about ways we can strengthen our bodies to have longevity in this career. Our day continued to get better as Austin spoke about women's abdominal health and how to repair the effects of child birth…wine may of still been on the menu and conversations were lively. Little Lambs as a whole highly recommends Quinte Ortho for all your physical needs. They have a host of professionals providing a variety of services.
Our day concludes with a group of women who are a little merrier, definitely closer, prepared to put their own health on the priority list and ready for the next chapter as Little Lambs providers.
Thank you for reading this far. I truly look forward to what the future hold for this amazing agency.
(Owner/Director Little Lambs Home Child Care)
I am the creator of this amazing business and I am filled with hope and aspirations for a childcare program that far exceeds expectations.