Well, I don’t know about you all out there but October has flown by! Tomorrow is November! Already!! Soon December will be here and Max will no longer be a ‘baby’ but move to the toddler category. If I was still on Mat leave I would be approaching my last 4 weeks of paid leave. But alas, I went back early. Today will be the 2 month mark of going back to work and leaving Max in daycare.
So – what has life been like? Well, re-read my first sentence and you will get the main idea – time goes by quickly! Every day seems like a big blur and before I know it, it is time to pick up Max. By the time I blink again, boom – Max’s bedtime. On a daily basis I feel as if I don’t have enough time. The blurriness in my day tends to stem from the fact that I feel rushed all the time. I rush in the morning, rush in my classes, rush home, rush dinner, rush rush rush! Talking to my daycare provider this afternoon, I realized that once Max starts ‘evening activities’ I will be rushed more and more.
However, in saying all that part of the reason why I feel so rushed all the time is the nature of my job. So for only a brief moment, I will talk about my job for a bit. I do not work a typical 9-5 job. Although it may appear that I only work from say 9-3:15, those are the hours that I am in front of the classroom. I actually work from 8:15-4pm and I try really really hard to get most of my work done in that time period. But, there are times when I need to do extra work. One of the most commented ‘myths of teaching’ is that I can mark/prep while teaching in the classroom. Well, whoever said that has not seen my class! It is go, go, go for the entire period. Therefore stuff like marking and prepping for the next class(es) happens during my prep period, or at home. Somedays I have to do work at home, sometimes I don’t.
Anyhoo – the point of all this, is it isn’t easy to hold a professional job and have a baby at the same time. I very rarely have time for myself and small things like watching Parenthood or Grey’s is a “pretty big deal”. Talking to some parents on twitter however, has made me realize I am not the only one that thinks watching TV is a treat But in the last few months I have thought about how my life at home has changed.
There are some suggestions that I have for every parent who is struggling with the “Life/Work” balance:
1. Set a Routine: Routines are key in my life. I have a pretty set morning routine that gets myself and Max out of the house by 7:45 at the very latest. We also have a pretty set evening routine as well. Having a predictable routine makes these rushed times a bit easier!
2. If you can reduce your work hours: I currently only teach two classes (full-time teachers in high school teach 3). This has helped me out significantly over the past two months. I have one less class to prep and mark for, and it gives me that extra 1 hour and a bit to get ready for the next day. This set-up has saved my butt! However, I should note that about 2 times a week I do substitute for other teachers (tomorrow is one of those days), but when I sub, I don’t have to mark! (oh thank goodness!)
3. When at home, spend time with baby: My students have asked what I do at night. Well, from the hours of 4pm-7:30pm it is all about Max. I don’t do much other than play blocks and cars! I think this helps him out a bit. If I ignored him he would have a crying fit (which is common apparently). It is important that you bond and play with your child while they are young.
4. Just say no – People will always be asking you to go to things, to do something for them, or to try the next so and so. Seriously, do yourself a favour and if you are feeling stressed – Just say no! Leave some time for yourself and to get regular family and household things done. If you are stopping at McD’s too many times in the week for dinner (and not just because you have a hankering for a Big Mac) – you may be better off reducing some of your commitments and staying at home.
5. When in doubt, get off that couch! Exercise is important! So many of us get caught in that trap of sitting in front of the TV or Computer for hours. Sometimes all it takes for me to have a better day is to go for a run. So, if you are feeling sluggish – go for a walk, yoga class, toboggan ride, whatever! Just get off that couch! Note: dance parties would be fine as well!