New Year is traditionally a time of discarding the old and bringing in the new. It is a time to reflect on what has gone well in the last year and to bring your dreams and goals for the incoming year to the forefront. New Year’s resolutions abound as we promise ourselves we will go to the gym more, eat more healthily and start that novel/course/hunt for a new house…
But how long do these resolutions really last? For most of us personally, the answer is “not very long” and very few of us get to that magical average 66 days of repeating a new behaviour which research suggests can then lock it in as a habit. So, most of us, by the end of January, have actually changed very little in our lives and continue much as we were before, reaping much of the same outcomes as we did in the previous year.
So how can you ensure that this doesn’t happen to all your hopes and dreams for the incoming year in your setting?
The answer involves making sure that any changes and preparations you want to implement in your setting are:
- Well thought through
- Have a buy-in from your staff, and
- Are well resourced
The run up to the Christmas break is a hectic one. It comes at the end of the longest term of the year (the autumn term) when there are stresses from all sides to do more at the festive time of the year. You may organise a nativity play, or another festive celebration; or perhaps you get involved in some charity work or carol singing; or even just decorating the setting for the festive season can put extra pressure of staff, resources and time.
The last thing most of us want to be doing on the 23rd or 24th December is worrying about what we are going to do in January. Staff are tired, they need a break and most of us are happy to shut the door on the old year and wait until after Christmas before we even want to think about the staff rota for January!
However, it doesn’t take much planning to help get your setting on a good footing come January, so that you can infuse some new energy into the setting and your staff, AND allow you time off over the holiday!
Things to do before Christmas
Here are some tips for getting your setting ready for the new year.
- Buy a wall planner for 2023 and mark in all the days that you know you have already planned. You may already have and academic planner which is a great way to start planning during the summer, but a visual calendar focuses the mind. Scheduling things into a diary/planning system is the first step in getting things done.
- Make sure you have communicated everything to any new intake you may have in January so that you don’t have worried or stressed parents trying to contact you in the holiday period to confirm things that should have been sorted out already. We know that there are always parents who don’t read their emails and mailshots, so it might be worth spending some time on the phone, checking in with new parents before Christmas, just to make sure they have everything they need. This will also establish your setting as someone who cares about their new clients and develops trusting relationships with their parents.
- Get your rotas and schedules up to date before you leave. No one wants to spend their Christmas concerned over staffing levels. Planning ahead and in good time will help everyone relax and get the rest and holiday they need.
- Plan a staff training day in January before the children come back, where you can thrash out new ideas, get some staff voice input or catch up with some important training that can make your setting run smoother. Training is a great way to help enthuse staff, yet it can often get lost in the general day-to-day running of the setting and fall to the bottom of the agenda. Parenta offer lots of online and inexpensive CPD that can help rejuvenate your staff’s attitude whilst keeping up-to-date with new ideas and best practice.
Writing down your goals and sharing your vision is also an important part of preparing for 2023. Ask yourself some searching questions, and better still, include your staff so you get their ideas as well. Think about:
- What worked well last year and is there anything you need to do to make sure you keep doing that? It is important to identify the things that are going well in your setting and to recognise the staff for their part in that too. We all need to know that we are doing a good job, and what better time to renew people’s commitment to you and your setting than over the New Year period, when people might be re-evaluating their own personal and work life too?
- What did not go so well, and what needs to be done to improve? Try not to spend too much time apportioning blame – it tends to be demoralising to staff and does not encourage a positive attitude for change. It’s better to look objectively at the problem and try to find positive solutions rather than setting up a culture or blame or judgement
- Where do you want to be this time next year? What goals do you have and do you have a plan to achieve them? You might want to open a new room, expand your age range or staff, or train up some new apprentices to relieve the pressure on staffing. Whatever it is, make sure you take time to think about where you want to go and remember to get your staff’s input too, You might want to set up a vision board to keep everyone focused on the goal
However, remember that you don’t want to change everything all at once – most people are resistant to change in some way, and a lot of us are resistant to change in a lot of ways! If you are planning changes that affect people’s way of working or the patterns they are used to, make sure you have set up a programme to get their buy-in first. This could be through a training day, some consultations or by delegating some of the responsibilities around the staff, which can help give them ownership of change.
Whatever you want to do, good planning is the key to implementing your ideas well.