As we sit with family and friends, hopefully taking some time to relax and recharge our batteries before 2023 is on our doorstep, it is a perfect time to look at the distance we have travelled in the last 12 months. And I don’t mean the statistics Google can give you on how far you have driven recently. I mean the things we have accomplished, the ways we have changed and the events that have shaped our lives.
Looking back on 2022, I don’t think many of us started the year refreshed and recharged – I know I was still shell-shocked from the previous 2 years of change, upheaval, and pivots. So, although I thought I was ready to face the next set of challenges – natural disasters, continuing onslaught of illness in our community, workforce shortages and the rising costs of living, the toll it has taken can sometimes feel too much. Add to that this year, I think a lot of us have been making up for lost time. Making up for the missed birthday parties and family gatherings with bigger birthday parties and family gatherings, squeezing in extra holidays, catch-ups with friends and outings to places that we have missed in the last couple of years. If we add all of this up, we are left with a community of people who are exhausted, run down and feeling less than festive.
As I was thinking about this the other night while watching the twinkling fairy lights on my Christmas tree, I decided to change the narrative in my head. Yes, all of the above is true – but what is also true is that in the past 12 months, we have continued to promote the professionalism of the educator and leadership teams in our centres, we have continued to see how much influence a well informed and engaged educator can have on the progress of children’s understandings and we have stayed strong together as a community. We have all done the best we can with what we have, and we have always been there to help each other in whatever ways we can.
In fact, our sense of community has never been stronger. When the threat of flood came close to our centres, volunteers poured in to help move furniture, resources, and supplies to higher ground. When our centres have been hit by COVID or felt the full effect of the current staffing challenges, we have put calls out to families and they have all helped in the best way they can – either volunteering in the centres or keeping their children at home for a couple of days to take the pressure off the team. And our teams have worked longer and harder than ever before to be able to continue to provide education and care for our families. As we all start to feel the pinch of our changing economy and rising costs of living, many of our centres have implemented community pantries for everyone to share what they can with those who need a hand up. Our community is strong, and if our sense of community stays strong – we will always be ok.
Now who knows what 2023 will bring us, but at this moment, I am being kind to myself. I am choosing to be still, I am choosing moments of silence and calm to recharge, and I am choosing to connect with family, friends, and nature to help me find balance. My hope for this festive season is that you can take a moment to recognise your achievements and the effort you have put into this year and be proud.
Thank you to all of you for being a part of our community this year – we couldn’t have done it without you.