Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Balanced Life--Is It Possible for Teachers?

So, I keep thinking about Mary Lee's drowning poem on Friday. It is true--so many of us are feeling that way, and we always do-at this time of year.

Hip Mama Writer's 30 Day Challenge sounded so worthwhile to me, but I couldn't add another thing to my to-do list. Instead, about 10 weeks ago, I started my own personal program that I called "81 Days of Balance". (I realized I had 81 days between out of town trips and decided those 81 days would be dedicated to a more balanced life.) It seemed that work had taken over my life and wanted to make sure I at least spent 81 days being smarter about my time.

Well, I have about 6 days left until that 81 days is over and I can't really say that I am balanced. But I have rethought what balance means for me.

There is lots out there on balance and quality time and simplifying our life. My problem is that I like all of the parts of my life--I enjoy my family, my work, my writing, my down time, etc. My issue with balance is that sometimes it gets to be too much and I feel like I don't do anything well.

So, I was attempting to balance my days during these past 81 days. To make sure to exercise every day, spend quality time with my kids every day, visit friends and family more often, eat healthier every day, read every day, write and work every day.

Well, it didn't quite work out that way. I have discovered, that in my life, I have to balance across the year. I can no longer hold myself to balanced days and I think lots of teachers feel this same way. It seems that these first six weeks of school make us feel a bit off balance because so much of our life revolves around work in the classroom. But the school year cycle becomes part of who we are. There are times when the workload is more manageable and we have more time for our families, hobbies, etc.

So, I did not achieve 81 days of balance. But I learned what balance means for me. It means that my days won't be balanced. It probably means that my weeks won't be balanced. And I can enjoy things that way--because over the course of the year, life is balanced. I spend lots of quality time with all of the people I love, I have great friends, I love my work, I exercise most weeks and I clean my house on a regular enough basis that it isn't embarrassing. September is never a month where I feel balanced but now I see that it is part of the balance of each year.

Next September I am going to try to remember that the drowning feeling is just part of the balance of the life of a teacher. I can't expect more from myself. I am wondering that if with any work that is worthwhile, the drowning feeling is just part of it all.


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    I think that you make some good points, Franki. Trying to have every day be balanced is an awful lot of pressure. You're actually stressing yourself out by trying to do everything every day, when that just isn't possible. I'm glad that you've been able to resolve this for yourself, and feel balanced in terms of the year as a whole. I've been struggling with this question, too. How to balance my job, my blog and the many activities around that, and my personal life ... Not easy for anyone. But reading your post helps. Thanks! (Oh, and I would more or less sell my soul for 81 days between trips, but it's not going to happen for me anytime soon, that's for sure. Hope you enjoyed the time at home).

  2. Speak on sista. I so hear ya!

    So much of this post resonates for me. The stress and craziness of the first six weeks of school are concepts which are hard to explain to people who've never taught. Here's a personal admission about the wacky rhythm of a teacher's year: I love the high stress times. I am so stretched that *I* seem to just disappear. I lose myself in the work and stop having a "self" to worry about.

    If you get a chance, check out my "from the treches" post. Lots of the books my kids are reading I first read about here, or from a blog i hopped to from here.


  3. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I, too, find it hard to balance my home life and my school life. I love what I do, which is a good thing. What's not good is when I'm up until 2 a.m. on a Saturday night (after going out at least!) making new nametags for my kids with my scrapbook supplies.

    Your post reminded me to take time for myself. I love to needlepoint, but rarely do it these days since I'm transitioning to a new job in a new City. No excise. I'm going to try to balance my life more... thanks for being the driving force behind my new rebalancing act.

  4. Me too, me too, me too. Your insight about balance happening over time was big for me. I feel like I am coming up for air now that conferences are over. This weekend I even felt like I was floating a bit. Looking forward to a 4 day week!

  5. Anonymous10:24 AM

    This really resonates for me, too, on the mom side of the school schedule. I felt so committed to staying sane this fall but sure enough, here we are practically having our mail forwarded to the elementary school. And I'm back to feeling like I have to 'steal time' for me own work. Still, I really, really like the sanity of this post -- so much of it is about expectations and if expecting every DAY to be balanced is to much then we should let it go...

  6. I have found that September and October are the hardest months of the year for me and my family. This year I have had to let go of a lot of the blogging I wish I had time for, including reading and commenting on all my favorite blogs. I remind myself it is a season and things will flow another way sooner or later. I just have to let go of a lot and know that by January and Feb. life will seem slow and dull again... usually! ;)

    Thanks for this stimulating post.


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