11.2 Nurturing Yourself


What Is It?

Performing supervisory functions well takes its toll on even the most experienced supervisor. In supporting and nurturing others, it is all too easy to neglect your own needs for support and nurturance. However, you have a responsibility to your program, to your staff, and to yourself to engage in experiences that enhance your capacity to be a high-quality supervisor. You must feel supported yourself if you are to supervise home visitors in a way that supports them and enhances program quality. You need time to reflect on your work, develop your professional skills, and recuperate from the demands of your job. You should have a repertoire of strategies that you use to stay energized and motivated in your work. Identifying your personal strategies and training needs is an important step in this process.

How To

Reflect on how often you engage in the following activities. Identify additional strategies that you might find helpful.

Acknowledge your need for nurturance.

Remember that supervisors need support as much as direct-service staff.

  • Seek assistance from others to accomplish programmatic tasks.
  • Seek out quality supervision for yourself. Reflective supervision can help you identify your challenges and resources and support you in the many facets of your job.

Improve your supervisory skills.

Just as you provide training for home visiting staff, ensure that you receive the training you need. Consider the following topics:

  • Strategic planning
  • Budgeting
  • Advanced clinical skills
  • Adult education and development/adult learning principles
  • Observation skills
  • Data management and use/aggregating and analyzing data
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills (e.g., active listening)
  • Relationship-based competencies
  • Human resource management
  • Performance appraisals/giving constructive feedback
  • Team building
  • Reflective supervision
  • Self-care
  • Program evaluation
  • Continuous improvement (ongoing monitoring, self-assessment)

Another effective way to enhance your supervisory skills is to observe and learn from your supervisory peers and mentors in the field.

Focus on time management.

As a supervisor, you have a daunting set of tasks you have to complete. Managing your time well is an important gift to yourself.

  • To avoid overextending yourself, make thoughtful decisions about which meetings you need to attend and which you do not.
  • To help yourself structure your schedule, set aside specific time for particular tasks (and do not change the time!).
  • Learn to delegate smaller tasks to preserve your time for the essential duties of your job.

Address boundary issues.

Because you are responsible for so many things and so many people, you can easily overextend yourself. Understand that you cannot be all things to your home visitors, families, or program administrators.

  • Set limits, taking into consideration your job responsibilities. Be clear about what you can and cannot do.
  • Seek assistance from other supervisory staff and administrators when needed.
  • A supervisor promoted to the position after working as a home visitor will experience changing relationships with colleagues. There may be some challenges to work through if there was competition from your coworkers for the job, or other issues that arise as you move into a position of authority. It is not uncommon to feel isolated or lonely as you adjust to these changes. It is especially important to have the support of your own supervisor or mentor during this transition.

Take time out from taking care of others.

As a supervisor, much of your time is spent caring for others—your staff, the families and children you serve, and sometimes your own family and friends.

  • Maintain reasonable working hours so you have time to replenish yourself. Try to get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and find ways to be physically active.
  • Take time to give yourself experiences in which you feel nurtured. Find ways to nourish your body, mind, and spirit.

Experience It

Nurturing Yourself

Directors from different programs talk about being a new leader. Experienced directors share wisdom that they have garnered over the years: being flexible, using colleagues, and being okay with not knowing something.

To view the video on the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center website, go to: Words of Wisdoml

Reflection Questions:

  1. Which of the strategies discussed struck a chord with you? How would you like to enhance that strategy in your work?
  2. What advice would you offer to new home-visiting supervisors?



Learn More

Describes competencies for supervisors in a self-assessment format. Aligns with the HSPPS and the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework


This video and guide is part of a series from the Early Head Start National Resource Center (EHS NRC) specifically designed to support EHS leaders. The materials in the EHS Resources for Leaders Series align with materials from five other Head Start National Centers: Program Management and Fiscal Operations; Parent, Family, and Community Engagement; Quality Teaching and Learning; Health; and Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness


This audio conference focuses on the importance of setting and maintaining professional boundaries in work with expectant families and infants, toddlers, and their families. Panelists offer tips and practical strategies for defining roles and maintaining boundaries in Early Head Start programs.



See Georgetown University’s Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CECMHC) to learn how to identify your sources of stress and strategies to reduce stress.