Is Having Children a Benefit or Drawback to Teaching?

 

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Both being a mom and being a teacher I’m changing lives.  I may not make a lot of money but I make a difference!

 

After many years of staying home with my children, I just started my second year  back to teaching.  While returning to teaching, the question, “Is having children a benefit or drawback to teaching?” has crossed my mind.   As always, everyone is different along with life style, priorities and circumstances which dictate this answer.

I spent many years in college receiving a formal education on best practices to teach both early childhood and special needs.  Then, I had several years of teaching before I had my own children.  I remember at a conference, a parent jokingly said, “You will understand when you have kids.”  I remember being slightly offended by this.  I spent 6-7 hours a day with their child and that’s more than most parents can say they see their children each day.  I also spent all my free time, planning, preparing and researching for their child.  My priority was my class.

Last year, my daughter had a kindergarten teacher who does not have children.  I immediately thought of that parent and was impressed by her teacher in many ways.  She was kind, patient and calm.  None of these things you need to have children to be.  In fact, none of those things you need an education for either.  Her personality and dedication impressed me the most.  My daughter thrived educationally and socially.  We both loved having her. She doesn’t have children but I knew she was going the extra mile in her free time and I appreciated her because of that.

This year she has a teacher with 5 children. My first thoughts were, “She obviously loves children but who gets the short end of the stick?  My child or her children?”  It has to happen at some point, right? We now love her for the teacher she is and all that she does.  It doesn’t matter to me if her teacher has 0 or 50 kids at home.  I’m concerned about what she is doing with my 1 child while she is teaching her those 6 hours each day.  God bless her patience to teach all day and go home to many more children.  On the other hand, she gets lots of joy at work and lots of joy at home so she’s a lucky woman.  Children are such a blessing and the more the merrier!

As for me…….

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I am now a preschool teacher with a preschooler.  I teach part time and get a chance to be a full-time mom still.  My preschooler is not in my class but our classes run at the same time so I only work while my children are in school.  I can honestly say, everyone gets the best of me.  Here’s why:

I loved and taught preschool before I had children and some of the things I worried about as a teacher I don’t worry about as a mom.  I now alter my plans with that balance in mind.

I was a stay at home mom during the hardest years a mom faces.  There is no better training of children than having two small ones, a husband that travels and chronic migraine.  To say I know how to balance, delegate, plan ahead, and multitask is an understatement.  I’ve learned how to entertain my babies while being in excruciating pain.  I’ve sacrificed my body, mind and gave up my occupation that I love all for my babies and family.  I put myself on the backburner and was happy to do it, but it was really, really hard.  I turned into a super hero and did a job that not every mom can or wants to do.  Work/life balance did not exist.  My work was my life and there was no day off.  They were long days and fast years that I feel beyond grateful for.

Now that I’m back to teaching, my students and families are getting the best and healthiest version of me.  I feel like I can give 100% to my children, students and my health.  Working part time really motivates me.  I LOVE my job and arrive each day happy to be there.  On my days off, I am often migraine sick but no one would know (see letdown migraine).  Part time allows me to be sick and take time for self-care.  For those of us who have chronic disease, scheduling in sick time is the norm and necessary

You-can-do-hard-thingsOverall, I understand teaching both with and without children.  I understand the fundamentals through education, the students point of view through not having children (and only seeing my students as students) and the behind the scenes (aka school) of what parents and children go through at home (nap schedule, eating issues, sleep issues, lack of structure, bathroom concerns and more!).

After all these years, I feel that I’m the best teacher and mom because of these experiences.  With these experiences, I know that not all teachers and moms are dealt the same hand.  There is no answer that fits all.  Not every mom, teacher, home or classroom are the same. 

Thank you to those teachers teaching my babies

Thank you to those parents allowing me to teach their babies

May we all grow and learn endless lessons both inside and out of the classroom this year!

 

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Starting school, making friends and my hopes for my children’s future

As the school year begins, I have been thinking about my childhood a lot.  I actually have a friend who I have had since I was 5 and a neighbor that became family when I was in 4th grade.  Since then, I have gathered a great group that have made me who I am today.  My “oldest” friends are the ones who know a little piece of me that no one else knows does. They have been there since the beginning.

As the school year begins I think about how my children are starting their “beginning.”  When they go to school they hopefully will find forever friends like I did.  All too soon they will be listening to those friends more than they listen to me and that is terrifying.  Other influences will guide them through school, sports, nights out, big dances, academics and everywhere in between.

These are the people that they will laugh, cry, and grow with.  They will think that the world has ended with a break up and think that missing a party will ruin their lives forever.  They will lie to me, hide things from me, and grow in a blink of an eye.  I just pray that we have raised them well and that their choices in friends have had the same.

They are growing up in a world that is filled with so many more challenges than I ever had to face.  I think we are the first generation to say, it was easier when we grew up.  Social media didn’t run our lives.  Our bullies said it to our faces.  As cruel as it was, it wasn’t the massive amounts of people who can hide behind a screen to say words that crush someone’s soul.

Our football players fought with their fists.  Now they fight with guns.  I wasn’t fearful for my safety.  Columbine shook our lives with the unheard of massacre of many.  Now it’s a part of life that you can’t fly, go to school, the movies, work or a playground without being on high alert.

We didn’t sit at home searching the internet.  We were out riding our bikes and playing endless hours of baseball.  My neighbors watched me and an army of adults were in contact with my parents.  I was held accountable for my actions by everyone.

If I got in trouble at school, I would be sure to hear about it when I came home.  Being a teacher, my student’s parents would blame me for their child’s actions.  They had  little follow through with accountability thus raising an entitled generation with little remorse.

I trusted the teachers and coaches that I spent countless hours with to strengthen and make me a better person.  Are teachers even allowed to do that anymore, or do they just hand them standardized tests?

The only person taking pictures of me was taken by my mom to be put into a family album, not spread on the internet for the world to see.  I grew up with privacy and felt safe.  I have happy, happy memories of my adolescence but remember it not being easy.

My children’s lives will not just be uneasy, it will hands down to hard.  And as a mom I’m so worried about it all.  Right now their tiny hands fit in mine when we cross the street and I pick their play dates.

Some day they will be embarrassed of me and go places that I’m not sure exactly what that they are  doing.  At that point I will rely on the way that we have raised them and their  forever friends that they have chosen.

My babies will always be my babies and they will be thrown into a grown up world well before they will be ready.   As my daughter stands before me in her princess dress I can practically see it as a homecoming dress. I can only hope she wants a beautiful ball gown that makes her glow from the inside out instead of a skimpy dress that she feels appropriate in this overly sexualized world.

As my son runs around in his super hero shirt, I pray he will be safe and this world won’t need saving.  He thinks he can fly and has super strength.   He already has made everyone’s lives better that knows him.  I just hope his ambition and spirit never fades.

I see their innocent smiles and I just want to freeze these moments in time so I never have to see them cry.  I just want to hold them and keep them with me forever.  But I know I can’t do this.  I want and need them to find those forever friends to be something that I can’t.

I need my daughter to understand that although boys are great, every girl needs really good friends.  Men try their best to figure us out, but friends don’t need to.  They just get it!

Their friends will get them through things that really matter when they really matter.  I want them to accumulate all of the wonderful memories that I had and continue to have with my friends that I love so much.

I don’t feel old enough to say that I have friendships almost 30 years but I do.  I’m not sad about my age.  I am proud that I have achieved so much and created so many important relationships during this time.  I’m so happy that I am secure, confident, loved and stable in so many ways.

I no longer have people in my life that are unimportant and as a girl it takes a long time to be happy with yourself and I am.    Life can be so hard yet so wonderful.  I can just pray that my children find people to get through the hard parts of life that I can’t be there for and make the wonderful memories all that sweeter.

May they grow to be happy and healthy.  May they find forever friends who guide them to make good choices and as they guide others.  May they laugh and value people for who they are inside.  May they teach others while they learn so many lessons.   And please God, may they be safe!  As they leave my nest of safety I trust you will watch over them and that the good people of this world will do the same.

Lessons your children learn or miss on vacation

img_9212I just came home from vacation with 4 children under 9.  When we left for vacation I was reminded that school districts look poorly on unexcused absences.  My answer was, “My children learn endless lessons on vacation and I’m not apologizing for showing them the world.”

While on the cruise I noticed lessons learned and missed everywhere.  Being a stay at home mom and teacher makes me see the world through different eyes.  I see my children and nieces as students in the real world.  I don’t have them in a classroom but I take opportunities to teach them as often as possible.

Waiting in Lines

Traveling requires a lot of waiting.  I’m writing this from the airport with a canceled flight and 8 hours of airport sitting.  When we travel, we wait in line for security, baggage, departure, arrival, check in, check out, and events that we attend.  Everyone waits in line but how they wait is crucial. 

As a teacher of three year olds, a line is a completely foreign concept.  We work on it all year long but it’s up to adults to show them how.  Are you waiting in line complaining that it’s not moving?  Are you pushing people?  Are you cutting and stepping in and out of line?  Patience my dear…..patience.

Eating

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On a cruise, food is endless.  With this, are endless options.  We don’t encourage our children to order mac n cheese every night (although my son would love it and cause me less issues).  I will fully admit my son is an insanely tough eater.  He cries through most meals and only eats about three things by choice.  I have a picky eater who ruins most meals for me.  This does not mean he gets what he wants.  On vacation we aren’t shoving veggies down our kid’s throats and we eat lots of desserts. 

We mainly focus on trying new foods.  What better time to try new things than an all-inclusive meal package?  They tried escargot (gross!), lobster, crab legs, fruit soups and more.  If they don’t like it, ok.  If they do, it gets added it to their vast pallet.  We take “No thank you bites” which mean they try it and say no thank if they don’t want more.  Try new foods.

Along with this comes table manners.  Even my three year old orders for himself and has for years.  Look at the waitress, order politely and wait patiently.  We look at how a table is set, why there are so many forks and put napkins in our laps.  At home my children set the table and having a beautifully set table is something they recognize.

Different cultures, languages and social studies

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Our children have classmates who are bi lingual but only hear them speak English in school.  When we travel, we see adults and children speak in their first languages and it’s a great learning experience.

 My son played with a little girl in the pool and neither one of them knew they were speaking different languages.  I sat and laughed watching them play in the water while joy and giggles spoke for them.

We saw different bathing suits, hair coverings, dress styles, jewelry choices and more.  Talking about differences in cultures is different than seeing it.  Both on the boat and on the islands we saw every color of skin, eye and hair color. 

They saw homes that look a lot different than ours.  Telling a child to appreciate their home and showing them a shack where children their age live is a lesson that lasts.  More is not always more and location dictates dwellings.  We don’t have brightly colored houses like the Bahamas and they don’t have snow barriers like Cleveland.  Location, location, location.

It was diversity at it’s best.  We rode in elevators with a swirl of languages around us.  We tried to identify where they may have been from and where in the world it was.  It was fun to problem solve and see social studies come to life.

Maps.  Maps can help teach scale (additional math lessons below).  It can teach location, direction, elevation, landmarks and more.  Wherever we travel we get a map.

Math

Math surrounds us everywhere.  Money is always an easy lesson.  Change, dollars, prices etc. are all opportunities for lessons.

We found lessons in walking the stairs when the elevators were too crowded.  How many floors till we get to where we need to go?  Addition, subtraction, counting stairs and more.  Active math can be better than paper pencil math.

At dinner we had my niece making patterns with the utensils.  Fork, spoon, fork, spoon, fork…  Now try spoon, spoon, fork, spoon, spoon, fork, spoon….

We had a ton of events to go to.  What time is it?  What numbers are on the clock?  How much more time till we need to go?  What time do we need to get up and what numbers will be on the clock?

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Technology

HERE COMES THE JUDGEMENT…..

Get the ipad out of your kids hands!!!!!  I was sickened by how much other children were missing life lessons.  If the schools are referring to those kids and missing school, I agree.  How you vacation with your children should dictate if you can miss school or not.  If your child is handed an ipad for a week, keep them in school!!!!!!  You aren’t doing them any favors by “showing them the world” when they are missing the world around them.

I sat at dinner for an entire week next to a family who gave their son an ipad at dinner and I did not see them speak to him ONCE!  It actually distracted me from my own family by staring at this poor child holding a screen 1 foot from his face for an hour straight each night.  Literally……NOT ONE WORD WAS SPOKEN TO HIM!  A generation without being spoken to or speaking was screaming in my face.

Do people say to themselves, “Let’s have a baby and not talk to him.”  I know this is super judgey but it’s the truth.  It’s easier to give technology than to speak to your babies, I get it (but I don’t do it).   We talk to our children and they speak to us.  Language development is hugely lacking due to technology.  Children should not have difficulty in conversation, in fact, they should be difficult to stop from their inquisitive natures.

We ask open ended questions that provoke thought…What was your favorite part of the day?  What was your least favorite part and how did it make you feel?  Who made you laugh today?  How did you feel when (a situation) happened?

Our children colored, did actual homework, read menus, played with characters and were aware of their surroundings.  Are my children perfect?  No child is.  Most nights we had multiple trips to the bathroom and walks around the halls while waiting for food. 

Like I said, my son is a picky eater and my husband and I battled him every night to cut his attitude and sit with us whether he was eating or not.  We left most dinners exhausted and frustrated but we didn’t take the easy way out.  He’ll thank us some day and onlookers thanked us as they left for the polite lovely children that we are raising.  I’m not kidding, we get complimented most places we go for their manners.

Technology is easy being a parent HARD.  If you got into being a parent thinking it would be easy, check the definition again….it’s HARD and requires real work.  Technology is not work.

As we waited in those lesson teaching lines, I mentioned above, I saw dozens of children with ipads again.  These aren’t educational games that my kids play at home on rainy days, they are manic, ADD producing, mind frying, delusion creating games (cue the negative feedback).  There is a time and a place for shows, movies and games and it is NOT ALL THE TIME!

Like I said, this is  judgey and I’m not perfect.  I typically try to be politically correct in my posts because I tend to lean towards: Everyone is different.  But in this case, if you want to battle me in saying that ipads are good to be in children’s hands at all moments I’ll take that challenge.

A generation that can’t self-entertain, don’t speak and are missing life lessons around them is frightening.   Children playing games sitting in diapers instead of playing in the pool is wrong!  Not talking to your son at dinner is not OK.  Waiting in a line and frantically searching through a purse to quickly soothe a toddler who needs to be swiping his finger while rewiring his small brain and is losing potential with each passing minute is tragic.  Kids who are only comfortable “talking” through their fingers saying things that they wouldn’t have the nerve to say out loud is their “reality”.

I can go on and on and on and on about this.  As a teacher, as a mother, as a human being watching my babies surrounded by robots is nothing short of terrifying!

 Conclusion

Circling back to the comment of schools not liking personal vacations, I ask you this…..Are your children learning and living lessons or missing them as a world passes them by?  Enjoy life and be present.  Being a parent is hard and a lot of my vacation consisted of cranky kids and not being easy.  We read books at bedtime, we talked, we grew together and we all had moments of tears and difficulty.

Life is hard and vacation should not consist of ipads and missing life.  Life is real, it’s fun, it’s different, it’s people, it’s tantrums, it’s conversations, it’s exhausting, it’s living school.  They can look and speak to adults, entertain themselves, use their imaginations and be kids the ways kids should be (the old fashioned way).

I’m not perfect, my kids aren’t perfect and I know no one is.  But together we enjoyed vacation and learned lessons that school or an ipad could not teach us………LIFE.

RANT and JUDGEMENT OVER…..

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Birthday wishes and healthy dreams. Just keep swimming with Migraine

 

 

Yeah, it’s my birthday!!!!  Thank you for all the well wishes on my day!

How was “my day?”

I was busy and felt pretty well.  I decided to cancel my massage and take my children to see Finding Dory.  This is the last week before school starts and they wanted to go all Summer, so my birthday was the day….

We started by painting our nails with Dory nail polish and lip gloss.  Then we baked cookies and painted with edible paint and decals.  Yum!  Nothing says a birthday like cooking and crafting with my babies!

Throughout the day, I ate way too much junk food, forgot to take a picture of my cake and was up most of the night in pain with my mind racing with the upcoming week. (next week school starts)

With the Summer ending and school beginning, I took notes from Dory (as I always do with children’s movies) and embraced, “Just keep swimming!”  This has been a rough Summer for me Migraine wise, as always, and I hope this Fall brings nothing but joy and new adventures in good health.

For the entire year, in  good times and bad, sickness and health, I want to remind you all to “Just keep swimming.”  Sometimes things may seem really hard, dark, and lonely.  Other times may feel too good to be true.

Through it all, Dory reminds us to:

Keep going

When faced with a new challenge, look around and find a way

Friends can become family with devotion and love

Family can help you find the way home

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So as my family faces many new adventures this school year, we are all going to keep swimming and find our way!