Sunday, September 1, 2013

Using time wisely

Time is gold. Students get fifty minutes for learning, practicing, and proving they learned it. Bell-to-bell teaching. Planning to the minute is, ironically, time-consuming.  I even sacrifice my lunchtime to plan.  Now that my family time is priority #1, I try to use every non-teaching minute at school productively.

As challenging as balancing work-life and home-life may be, I still keep my teacher-heart.  What I like best is seeing the light bulbs and the "aha!" moments when students understand something.  Teaching them responsibiltiy and character with all the state-mandated curriculum is definitely a work of art.  It's using time wisely.

Even before our kids were born, we planned to build our family around the school calendar to maximize our baby-bonding time; those summer months add up to way more than the standard 6-week maternity leave.  We weren't too off; one was born in April, the other in June.

Our schedule has been hectic at times, but we've made it work.  And we can't forget grandparents and family who help out, too.  We even survived a whole year of baby-car-switching.  He would meet me at school, and we would switch cars to take turns caring for Jason.  So lucky, I've heard, to not have to deal with the crazy costs (financial and otherwise) of quality child care. 

Fast forward six years, we don't plan out every second of the day, but we do seek out "family time," not just formal vacations, but time with the four of us. We're at the age where our social life has centered on kiddie parties and playdates. Every once in a while, when we get invited out, we have to ask, "Is the party kid-friendly?" and we are prepared for either answer. Facebook friends still post pictures of the carefree party life; good for them, making memories for themselves.  We've conscientiously chosen to grow with our family and help the boys make memories.  If that means sacrificing a "grown-up" party now and then, then so be it.


Don't get me wrong: we still have the occasional away-time from the kids, especially when we have our own milestones to celebrate.  I still remember the kids' first overnight-er with their grandparents, which went smoother than expected.  Within hours after they left, though, we found ourselves talking about what the kids did or what they said.  It's almost as if we felt "guilty" that we weren't with them.  Even now, years later, some of that guilt creeps in occasionally.  But we try to "justify" and say, "Well, the boys do need practice being around different adults!"  To make it a little easier, we try to schedule our events around theirs.

As my work year officially starts next week, I want to make the best of both worlds. One of my partner teachers a while back had been a principal at a different school the year before.  We were talking about three important things in life: family, work, and religion.  He said that keeping the three in perspective would make a person happy.  He said that principaling required too much of his time at work, and that something had to give, and it couldn't be family. 
We won't be able to go back in time, and say, "I wish we would've spent more time with them."  My husband and I choose to help pave a road of memories, brick by brick, for our boys. When they have a chance look back, we hope they can appreciate the smooth happy ones, and learn from the rocky, bumpy ones.  Making family time a priority helps bury "boys will be boys."