March 12 is National Working Moms’ Day! This day celebrates all moms who work so hard each day to impact the lives of their children for the better.
My mother stayed home with me until I went into kindergarten. She entered the classroom herself then and has been working outside of the home ever since.
My formative years include memories of her working on grading papers, making bulletin boards, cutting out projects for students, and also studying. She went back to school when I was in middle school and showed me just what it was like to be a hard-working mom with studying added to her to-do list, as well.
I knew she was tired, but she still cooked every night. She still did the laundry, cleaned up, and made time to even play video games with me, watch our favorite movies together, and listen to me tell her all about my favorite shows and books.
Now that I’ve been a working mom for almost eight years now, I look back in awe at what my mother did. She had different circumstances than me and more to contend with than I do as a working mom. It was a different time period when I was growing up and there weren’t as many devices to help make mothering easier. She also didn’t have any help from extended family, like I do.
There are a lot of days in which I collapse in bed bone-tired and I don’t know how I’m going to do it the next day, but I do. I think of my mother and how much more she had to deal with than I do and I think to myself, if she could do it, then I can do it.
Being a working mom is challenging. I am so very grateful as an educator that I get the summers off. I don’t know how other working moms do it without having that break.
Some days are more challenging than others. Some days I get attitudes from my students and attitudes from my son. I go from being a pseudo mother of middle schoolers to even more mothering when I get home.
Some days I grab a second cup of coffee at 4 pm, so I can make it through the evening of the other tasks I have to do, which can include more schoolwork. I’m up at 5 am to get ready for work. Sometimes the dark under-eye circles are even darker because of a fussy baby who has been up all night. Most Monday mornings, I’m even more tired than I was on Friday evening, because of the household chores and schoolwork I’ve done over the weekend. It’s not easy.
Add in teaching in a pandemic and it can make this task of being a working mom daunting.
Yet, it’s a blessing. I can bring in income for my family. I get to impact lives while my two children watch. As an educator, I get the summers and most holidays off with them.
My children get to watch me do something I’m passionate about. I hope I can inspire my children to work hard, to persevere through the daunting tasks they might be too tired to do, and to see women as capable of a lot! I hope I can inspire them like my mom inspired me.
“What you look for, you will find,” is one of favorite quotes. With this in mind, let’s look for all the tiny and big blessings of being a working mom. Let’s always look for the positives of this role we have been blessed with.
My 5 Tips for Teacher Work-Home Balance will definitely help if you always feel your work as a teacher seems to take over your home life or vice versa? I’ve been a working teacher mom for almost eight years now. I can’t believe my son is almost eight years old! After giving birth to him in the spring of 2013, I was back in the classroom that August. I am no expert. I have worked with tons of amazing women with much longer experience being a working mother and with many more kids. They are the true superheroes and they’ve taught me some things over the years. Also, with trial and error, I’ve found what works for me. Here are 5 tips to help you as a teacher with your work-home life balance. They work for me, and I want to pass them along to you.
Tip #One for Work-Home Balance is to Get Everything Ready the Night Before
This is a classic one: get everything ready the night before. This is definitely the best tip for teacher work-home life balance. Fill up water bottles. Pack lunches. Wash your pump and pack it up if you’re a pumping mother with a nursing baby like me! Steam clothes and lay them out. Put bags and shoes by the door. Basically, do as much as you can the night before. It makes the morning so much less chaotic. Some evenings I’m so exhausted from teaching and mothering, that getting up to prepare for the next day is the last thing I want to do, but I force myself. My husband helps a ton too! Getting ready the night before really pays off for a smooth and happy morning. Giving yourself and your kiddos a positive start to the day is what matters.
Tip #Two: Make Dinner Time as Easy as Possible
Speaking of the evening, make dinner time as easy on you as possible. I don’t know about you, but we simply can’t afford to eat out every night, and we would rather save that money for something else. I am the cook in our family, so I try to make simple meals that can be made quickly. Also, as I’m making dinner, I think about the next night’s dinner and what I need to thaw out. I have a rotation of meals that our family enjoys that is simple for me to make. These are just a few simple dinners I make:
Turkey sloppy joes with frozen fries
Tacos with chips and salsa
Spaghetti and Salad
Oven-baked chicken with roasted veggies
Additionally, I am a big fan of the crockpot slow cooker! I will thaw meats out overnight and pop it into the slow cooker the next morning. Roasted pork tenderloin with potato and carrots, beef stew, and chicken for enchiladas are some of my favorite slow cooker meals. Furthermore, I don’t have to tell you the benefits of grocery pickup that make meal planning even easier. For some super awesome and easy recipes, click here for Aubrey’s 50 Easy Back to School Crock Pot Recipes.
Tip #Three: Spend Your Time at School Wisely
For the third tip for teacher work-home life balance, spend your time at school wisely. During my planning period at school, I need to use 15 minutes of that time to pump, so this year I have even less time. I typically save Monday morning prep time for running copies and split up the rest of my planning periods during the week to plan or grade depending on my mood. Also, when I start a task, I don’t like to leave it unfinished. I used to save the planning for all afternoon on Sundays or all night, after school, on Thursdays.
Once my second child was born this last spring (yes, a 2020 baby!) I knew I couldn’t do my planning in one long stretch. Now, I break it up. Sometimes, I can get ten minutes done during homeroom and five minutes while students are writing a Bellinger. The pieced-together lesson planning throughout the week, while at school, adds up to not having to take as much work home. Another tip is to not chit chat at work if you can. It’s fun to connect with coworkers, but even cutting back the amount of time socializing can save you from bringing even more work home.
Tip #Four is to Get Up Early!
Get up early! I know. I get it. You’ve been up late with a teething baby or maybe your toddler had a sleep regression. Maybe you’ve been up late grading papers or lesson planning. My two kiddos have never been the best sleepers, so I know what it’s like to try to function on caffeine and dry shampoo. Getting up early, although so difficult, can become a habit. I love to be able to get ready at my own pace while the house is still quiet. I like to sip my coffee and put my makeup on without any disturbances. This does not always happen every day as a child does wake up earlier than normal, or I hit the snooze button a couple of times; however, the times I can wake up earlier has made the morning so much smoother.
Tip #Five is to Put Your Mind Where Your Body Is
I once heard in a TV show, “Put your mind where your body is.” This quote from the ABC show “A Million Little Things,” had a profound impact on my life. It basically means to be present right where you are! As a mother, we worry a lot. When I’m at school, I think about my kids and my brain gets distracted. I think about what I have to do at home. I think about my to-do list that awaits me as I walk through the door. Then, when I’m at home and doing those chores, I think about my endless to-do list at school. It makes for never-ending misery.
So, wherever my body is, I now focus my mind there. When I’m at school, I try my very best to think about school and the things I must accomplish. When I’m at home tackling my responsibilities, I push out school from my mind. This has helped me focus more, get work done efficiently, and make me feel not so overwhelmed! So, “Put your mind where your body is.”
I hope these tips for teacher work-home life balance can be of some help to you! I have not quite figured it all out, even after eleven years of teaching and almost eight years of being a working mom. My house isn’t always clean and I’m not always even listening to my own advice; nevertheless, working moms are amazing! So are stay at home moms! We get the privilege to be BOTH as teachers with our summers off or extended breaks. Enjoy your decision to be a teacher mom and know that your kiddos (both in and out of school) appreciate all you do.
I’m thankful that the first fall Saturday was ushered in with the sounds of soft rain and the sight of falling leaves. There’s just something about rain in autumn and a cloudy sky that makes me want to turn all the lamps on. It makes a restful scene on this day off from the busyness of the school week.
The ambience of a glowing lamp creates a serene home, but are we really unwinding? Teachers are notorious for not taking a break from the hustle. How can we when there seems to be no time to relax, no time for self-care?
The to-do list is long and never ending from chores at home to schoolwork we just couldn’t get to. Add in the mix that many of us are also teaching virtually, whether full time or part time in addition to in-person teaching, and this all combined leaves very little time for self-care.
Nevertheless, we must make time.
Put down the grade book. You’ve spent enough time grading.
Put down the laptop and the teacher editions. You’ve spent enough time lesson planning.
Put away the email you were about to send and just rest.
You will feel much better if you pick up a favorite book, light a pumpkin candle, and read with the rain in the background.
Grab a mug of apple cider and watch a good show.
Paint your nails that deep burgundy for fall.
Or else just take a long shower and feel your muscles relax.
The work will be there when you’re ready. And you’ll have more energy and patience to tackle it because you chose time for self care, time to care for yourself first.
Rest isn’t a bad four-letter word. It’s the care we need to replenish our souls to do the work we are called to do.
We hope you were able to enjoy your first fall Saturday.