Monday, January 30, 2012

Keeping work at work

We just started a new semester.  And last week, I only brought work home once!  It was amazing what a difference that made to my home and family life. 

  • I didn't have to say, "Not now honey," when N wanted to draw with me, when M wanted to show me her latest scheme, when T wanted to discuss a trip our family might take. 
  • I was able to complete all my normal household tasks of an evening (dishes, laundry, pickup, etc.) while it was still evening and not actually yet night. 
  • I exercised. 
  • One evening, I even sat with my feet up and played with my iPad. 

I want weeks like that more often.  But they are way harder to come by than you might think.  Each year that I have worked at this middle school, more balls have been added to the pile I juggle each day, and more minutes of that precious prep time (teacher talk for our few limited minutes of non-supervisory time at school--the time when we build lessons, call parents, make copies, clean up after the kids, go to the bathroom, eat lunch, etc.) have been taken away. (as well as any promise of the little raises and bonuses that make it financially tenable--I'd have to take a second job if it weren't that the tech industry pays my husband double what I make).

Between my first and second year at my school, I gained two new things to prep, and lost 45 minutes of prep time.  There's something really skewed about this thinking.

This year, I didn't gain any new classes, clubs, or other things to prep for the kids, but I did gain two new PLCs (Professional Learning Communities).  We can debate the value of this particular work sometime if you'd like, but valueable or not, it's a time sink.  And time is the most valuable commodity of my life.

So, the question is back to balance. The whole idea that got me started blogging.  How do we get everything we need and want out of each day? How can I be prepared to educate and inspire 150 middle schoolers, take care of the needs of a household and a house, be there for my family and friends, write, exercise, and still find a little me time?

Step one has got to be leaving work at work.  I'm afraid it's not realistic to think I will never bring home papers to grade or presentations to prepare, but for this semester, my goal is to keep that to a minimum. Because I love my work.  I love my students. But I love my family more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

3 weeks overdue

Damnit. I was doing so well, too. I had quite nearly kept up with weekly blogging.  Then January came. And now it's been just short of 3 weeks. Where did the time go?

Is it just the way of resolutions? Three months then you fall off the wagon? I'd like to think I'm stronger than that. So, why didn't I keep it up? What have I been doing instead? Let's see . . .
  • I read. 3 books, in a row. Started a fourth.
  • I used my new Kitchenaid Stand Mixer to make a cake. 
  • I took a mini-vacation with my family to Great Wolf Lodge. 
  • I cleaned. A lot. Then did it again. Families are messy. And housework is something you can achieve even when you feel brain-dead and woogy on cold meds.
  • I prepared lesson plans, graded tests, attended meetings, called parents, and generally attended to the business of school. 
  • I played with my daughters.
  • I wrote several chapters for my novel.
  • I wrote an essay for a contest.
  • I fought a cold, mostly successfully
  • I fought fleas
  • I hosted the grandparents, twice. 
  • I went to the movies, twice. 
  • I went to my reading group and my writing group meetings
  • I let Barnes and Nobles buy me lunch because I'm a teacher. Thanks B&N!
That makes me feel a little better. The word "wrote" is in that list twice. So, are literary endeavors like "writing group" and "reading group" and reading books.   Even my movies were sort of literary: Sherlock Holmes and TinTin.  Plus, I'm really happy to have done all these things. Maybe I haven't been spinning my wheels and wasting time after all. Though, I notice my sister is absent from my list. Hmmmm. . . we need a girls' night.

It's all about priorities--and blogging apparently wasn't as near the top of that list as it has been.  Still. I think it's working. When I sit down to write, it's no longer a two hour warm up before I find any flow.  So, this is definitely still worth doing. Thanks to anyone who bothers reading my meanderings. Somehow, it's easier to do this journal-esque sort of writing if I believe someone is going to read it.

So, back to it. My novel gets the afternoon. Thank goodness for days off with open day care!