Sick days, glorious sick days. The kinda days you use when you need to take off to go fishing. In the world of residential childcare they are non-existent
We actually get sick days here, I’ve just never used them. I guess a lot of it has to do with your life and occupation being one and the same. For example, I have a very grotesque ingrown toenail. I go twice a year to have it cut out and fixed up. The first day after getting cut on is very painful. But I’ve never taken the time off. I just grab the remote, take double the amount of pain medication the Dr. advised and yell at whatever kid comes within my target range.
Most House Parents I know are the same. There seems to be a sense of doom if we are not there. Maybe it’s because we are control freaks or it could be we are just that dedicated to the house and kids. I’m thinking it’s probably more of the control freak option.
Many facilities are not staffed with enough people for it to even be an option for the House Parents to take a day off or any kind of sick leave.
The bottom line is most of us in this industry spend our lives taking care of others and completely neglect ourselves. It’s actually very common in all areas of social work. Many mental health professionals are basket cases themselves and a very large percentage suffer from anxiety, PTSD and a host of other symptoms that come from dealing with every one else’s issues.
Likewise House Parents get beat down from what they do. You can only hear so many hard luck stories, deal with so many drugged out, mentally jacked up parents, behavioral issues from MULTIPLE children and administration staff that always think they know the kids better than you. After a while it tends to make you just a tad bit depressed, overweight, stressed, angry, frustrated, spiteful and moderately psycho. But there is hope!
The following are steps that we are taking to ensure that my wife, myself and our ministry will continue for many more years to come. Some of this stuff we are already doing, other stuff is in the works.
1. Praying together twice a day- Things start getting hectic and this is always the first thing to go. Probably contributes to everything else going out of whack when we stop taking time to pray together as a team and as husband and wife.
2. Exercise- Just common sense. You feel better, look better and work the stress off.
3. Eating Right- Everyone in your cottage may be in elementary school, but your not. Eat like an eight year old and you will turn into the Michelin Man.
4. Sleep- I am known for drinking a pot of coffee, and doing paperwork into the wee hours of the morning. I generally operate on about 5 hours of sleep a day. That is not enough, and I look like a walking corpse.
5. Marriage Counseling- Me and the wife are doing just fine, but going at least once a year to a marriage retreat or some kind of Pastoral counseling helps line up any issues that may be going on and helps keep the communication lines open. Plus it makes my wife think I actually care about her feelings (Just joking).
6. Vacation- Get away and just relax. Kinda wish I was there now.
Thats about it. I figure it’s a decent start to living just a little better. -Launch