4 6 FINDING YOUR SMILE AGAIN
school; agency providing support for direct-care providers; or in
someone else’s home as a nanny, au pair, or caregiver to a relative.
Wherever you fi t into the early care and education fi eld, you have at
least some experience with burnout—if not your own, then that of
a colleague. It’s no wonder: We child care professionals have a lot on
our shoulders. We have a huge social and economic impact on our
community, our state, and our nation.
Imagine the havoc that would ensue if all of us who spend our days
or nights caring for other people’s children took a two-week vacation
at the same time:
Manufacturing would grind to a halt.
Wholesale and retail sellers would be unable to open for
Hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics would close their doors.
Police stations and fi re departments would close.
Elementary and secondary schools would be forced to call a
Spring break would come early for college students and
Local, state, and federal government agencies would be in-
capable of everything from picking up the trash to guarding
the nation’s borders.
This vision may be slightly exaggerated, but not much. Your pro-
fession allows parents to go to work or attend school. If you quit doing
your job, they would be unable to do theirs. On top of that, you are
providing much-needed early nurturing and educating while parents
are away from their children. You are guiding the emotional and physical
development of our nation’s future. The fi rst woman to visit Mars; a
future president; the inventor of the cure for AIDS; the next Mozart,
Sinatra, or Bono could be sitting across the room from you eating play-