Confessions of a Teaching Parent
I remember when I first began teaching at the age of 22, my mentor teacher told me, “Teaching will make you a better parent and being a parent will make you a better teacher.” The wisdom of these words has stayed with me.
When I had my first child, I realized my time in the classroom had armed me with many of the tools I would need as a mother. I was calm in moments of crisis, I did not hover but rather encouraged my children to be independent and explore, and I was used to dealing with the demands of kids. These tools were even more valuable when my second child was born and I became a busy mother of two.
As much as teaching helped me to smoothly transition to motherhood, it is my work as a parent that has made me a more compassionate, flexible and patient teacher. Having small children at home–a 6 and 8-year old–is a constant reminder that kids are kids. And kids today are juggling a lot. My own children are already playing soccer, practicing the piano, attempting to balance their activities with the daily homework and reading requirements for school. I love that my kids are beginning to find their way in the world and gravitating to activities they enjoy, but I’ve struggled to find a balance between my work as a parent, my work as a teacher, and my own individual passions.
In the day to day mania of my life, there is very little time for me. My days fly by in a blur of driving the kids to school, working, making dinner, cleaning up, packing lunches, lesson planning, and grading. There are moments when I wonder when life will slow down enough for me to have time for me.
I daydream about mornings when I can wake up slowly, enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee, and allow my mind to wander. I image that in those moments the thoughts that are unconsciously shelved because I’m “too busy” will bubble to the surface and take shape. Yet, those slow mornings feel far away as I write this.
I am writing this blog because the lack of balance in my own life has left me feeling exhausted. I want to remind my readers, many of whom are also working parents, to strive to carve out time for you. This is advice I freely give but struggle to make a reality in my own life. It is something I continue to work on and it deserves my time and attention.
Our work as parents raising kind, curious, and confident children capable of navigating the world around them and teaching the next generation of engaged, thoughtful, and innovative students is work that demands we also nurture ourselves. Without nurturing ourselves as creative individuals, we will not have the energy or inspiration to do our best work at home or in the classroom.
If you are a parent who teaches and has strategies you employ to nurture yourself despite the chaos of life, please post a comment and share them! I’d love to learn from the wisdom of other educators. If you are, like me, struggling to find your balance and want to share your story, I welcome those comments too. Sometimes it’s nice to just share our experiences as human beings attempting to make our way in the world.