A harmonious home life would make any stressful job easier to handle. My resolution has been the same every year since having children – to be the best parent I can be. Being a teacher geek does not always make family life easy. It may seem like a simple resolution to be a good parent, an easy and manageable target to achieve but honestly, rewriting a book in six weeks after dropping my mac was a far more manageable goal. Families are not as simple and straightforward as some facebook posts often lead you to believe. Behind the smiling photos of seemingly perfect children and white picket fences lay arguments, tantrums and tears. Add the pressures of being a teaching professional into the mix and it may, at times, seem unmanageable.
Connecting with other educators is simple. Get on twitter, get yourself along to a teachmeet – they are everywhere so you will not have to travel far. Pedagoo is a wonderfully positive community of educators that are open to new connections, making even the most timid of teachers welcome. Connecting is achievable if you want to connect to like-minded teachers and improve your practice. Connecting with your family is much harder to achieve. Here are some of the ways to #connect that I have dreamed up after 15 years of trying to be a better parent.
Having time to #exercise as a teacher is seriously tough. If you have never set the alarm for 5am to go out for a run before, expect to hit the snooze button by about the third day. You do not need to tie yourself to an unachievable regime to make this one work. Quite often, after dinner, my family and I will each choose a song and by 6pm we are all dancing to old classics, new one hit wonders and a few Disney favourites too. Music can change your mood in an instant and sharing each other’s tastes can boost everyone’s in built smileometer. Dancing on the table after dinner is my favourite way to #exercise and #connect.
As a teacher, the stress is more noticeable than the smiles. Racing through life, chasing the mythical end of your to do list, you miss many fantastic moments. It is easy enough to say to you, “slow down” but much more difficult to put into practice. I keep a green dice in my coat pocket. Each time I reach into my pocket, it is a small reminder of fate. Our lives are short and the cruel hand of fate could strike any of us at any time. We are all in fate’s hands; I know this only too well as my husband suffered a stroke this year (aged 42). As my hand touches the dice, I slow down, just for a moment and take #notice of the here and now. I compliment, I question, I #connect and remember to be thankful that they are sharing that moment with me.
I look to #notice things every day that lead to morning #exercise. Each morning, I wake my children up to a song. The song is always linked to something that I have noticed about them the day before. For example, Miesha was having a teenage moment one day and I overheard her telling her friend that she feels like she lives in people’s shadows. The next morning, she awoke to Bette Middler’s You’re My Hero. She has never seen Beaches but saw the funny side of the song and appreciated that I had noticed how she felt. Sam is only five and often requests Frozen songs or the Everything is Awesome from The Lego Movie. He is overjoyed when his choice gets played. This all takes up about five minutes of my morning and is a much nicer way to wake up than being screamed out of bed and hurried through breakfast. It allows us to #connect, #exercise and #notice each other every day.
Having made it this far through the post, I imagine you are much like me – a teacher geek. You learn new things because you love your profession and you are likely to learn and grow as this coming year unfolds. I imagine that your children are learning something new each day too. My son is learning to spell and my daughter is learning that GCSE Art is not just about drawing. Our evening meal is an important time for us to #connect as a family. All work stops, no technology is allowed at the table and we ask each other about our learning that day. It sounds cheesy but it is lovely to #learn from your children. Learning is not something that just happens at school, nor is it a process that only comes from the adult to the child. Miesha and Sam quite often teach us things we genuinely did not know before.
This year, I have taken a step out of my own classroom. As part of my timeout, I hope to work with those most in need of a rich education. However, I understand the pressures of daily teaching would not have allowed me to give as much time to others as I am going to be able to give and I am so grateful to be able to have the time to #volunteer in a big way this year. However, on my mission to #connect with my family, I #volunteer for the little things. Remember to be happy in the here and now as you #volunteer to do the dishes, or #volunteer to do the run to the shops; do it selflessly to #notice your family not selfishly to make yourself seem like the hardest worker. “I bet you are tired. I will get those dishes done; you put your feel up.” Will be met with a harmony that “I suppose I had better do those dishes then!” will never achieve.
This year, my personal targets for professional development are astronomical. I always set myself up for a challenge but challenges that I know I can and will achieve. My habitual New Year’s resolution is never as easy to achieve as my professional goals. As a teacher geek, I love my work and I can often devote far too much time to school, forgetting there are children that need me at home. Creating a harmonious home is tough when you have little time to spare. Even with all of these little tricks, family life does not run smoothly. We argue and we stress because real life is not easy. That said, the little things I have shared here help me in my resolve to #connect to those closest to me, to #exercise with them through having fun, to #notice and #learn from them and to #volunteer my time to my family. I hope they are of some use to you and yours too.
Happy New Year