Surprise! I'm back! In this ridiculously too long 3 months since I've blogged (...that's a quarter of a year), life has been pretty exciting. All sorts of fun things have happened, but my favorite is last weekend, when I got engaged to the love of my life! We are planning an October 2014 wedding, and I cannot wait to be Mrs. Cook! A wedding blog will be coming soon :)
In the midst of all the excitement in my personal life, school is back in full swing, with my class of 22 first graders and no assistant. My class this year is a handful, but they're mine, and I love them to pieces. Love them as I may, with 22 six-year-olds who have varying ability and need levels, no assistant, minimal planning time, and more demands than ever before, it is so easy to get overwhelmed. More often than not, at some point during the week, I see one (or more) of my co-workers pushed to the point of tears, a migraine, or both.
As a teacher, it's not about me- it's about my kids. Everything I do all day is for my kids- and so much of what I do before and after hours is for them, too. (For the record, I get paid 7:45-3:15...someone, please, show me a good- no, decent- teacher who works those hours.) Most of the time, I really don't mind. But sometimes...
There is something to be said for putting the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. If you've ever flown, you know what I mean. If you haven't, on a plane, in the event of an emergency, oxygen masks come down from the ceiling. You are instructed to put your own mask on before helping other people put on theirs. On one particular flight I was on, I remember looking across the aisle and seeing a mom with two young children, and thinking to myself that, although I'm not a parent, I cannot imagine taking care of myself before children.
But there truly is something to be said for putting the mask on yourself before assisting others. It's not an "every man for himself" thing. It's recognizing that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. What good am I doing my students if I am completely exhausted and on the brink of burn out, lacking the patience they deserve? What good am I to my kids if I'm sick because I refused to stay home when my body was telling me it needed more rest? Who does that really benefit? Not me, and not my kids.
Something I've done better so far this year than last is setting boundaries. I set a time to leave school and (generally) stick to it. I decide on a limit of work to be done at home, and when the time's up, it's up. I'm making uninterrupted time with my fiance, our families, and our friends more of a priority. I'm making my health more of a priority. By doing these things, I'm indirectly making my kids more of a priority in a way that I can't always see as clearly as I'd like. I have to take care of me so I can take care of them. I have to be my best so I can help them be their best. I still give my kids 110%; I'm learning to give myself the same.
Sometimes you have to put the life jacket on yourself so you can help hold others up.
...which is why I'm writing this in my bed, apple candle burning, modern family in the background :)