Wednesday, November 9, 2016

How I Am Becoming A More "At Peace" Stay At Home Mom

Some days I really want to trade places with my husband. As an extrovert I am energized and a bit jealous of the idea that he gets “out” with people older than 3 most days of the week. But he is a dentist, and I don’t think I could put my hands in people’s mouths all day, so I decide my current gig as stay at home mommy will do. Then my two, sweet, innocent, energetic boys bound into my bed with me while my husband is having to walk out the door and I am again reminded that I have the best job on Earth right now. Raising them is the most important job I’ll have and I am so grateful to have this time at home with them.

It dawned on me the other day while I was folding laundry, that I am feeling at peace. In the past 3 years since I became a mom, there has been a lot of transition in our life. Several moves, new jobs, moves closer to family, then away from them, and the birth of our second son. My older son was starting to think it was normal to live in a new house each year. But now we are finally home and working tirelessly to show our boys that this is where we are planting roots.

A brand new SAHM mom - only a few weeks into the gig

When I decided to stay home a little over a year ago, I was told by several of my more veteran stay at home mommy friends that I would have to work at being a SAHM. I thought I knew what that meant, but I now have a new appreciation for their advice. So here are a few things I’ve learned about being at home. I hope they help someone else find their peaceful place too.

  1. Go out every day. If you want to. If you are an extrovert like me I have to get out of the house. I get cranky and I think somehow I pass that onto my boys if we are in the house too long. Some say I don’t know how to relax; I say I find it relaxing to be out and about. It doesn’t matter where we go but we hit up the usual suspects of all SAHM: the playground, library, Target, children’s museum, Costco, grocery store etc.

  1. Find a mom’s group. This can be hard. In our previous town I found it very hard to get connected with local moms. I finally found a MOPS group and just having a place to go (see point # 1) every Tuesday was huge for me. In our new “forever” home I wasted no time finding a mom’s group. Sadly there was no MOPS group, but luckily I was connected with a playgroup at the church we have been attending. Talking to other moms face to face on a weekly basis is so good for the mommy soul.

  1. Advocate for what you need to be happy. I have always known that exercise keeps me sane. As I became a mom I let that go, and it was a huge mistake. So when we moved we made sure to find and join a local gym that has childcare. As we embark on the cold season, I feel relieved knowing we have a place to go (again see point # 1) when me or the kids get stir crazy. Win win!

Being a SAHM mom does require putting in effort to surround yourself with what you need. If you don’t make an effort, you will be lonely, and I don’t think lonely moms thrive. It takes a little while to find your SAHM groove. What have you learned about being a SAHM that you would pass on? Because being a more at peace mom is a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Beginning of Something New

I'm back! After a year and half a lot has changed and I'm ready to get my blog back up and running. Big changes are coming for my little blog as I transition into my next phase of education. I spent some time going back and reading some of my older posts and realized how grateful I am that I started posting classroom updates five years ago. I've come a long way since my first year of teaching and I know great things are in store for my future too...even if I have no clue what it looks like right now!

For now, I'm excited to start working on my Teacher Pay Teachers store and a new name/direction for this blog. It's something I've always wanted to try and now seems like the perfect time. Lucky for my colleagues at my most recent school, I will be using them as guinea pigs to test out all sorts of ideas across grade levels and disciplines. 

Like many of you I have spent hours and hundreds of dollars on TPT looking for the right curriculum resource. I have always loved solving problems in my classroom by coming up with new creative ideas…but as a classroom teacher, time is limited and especially when I became a mom and teacher, I found myself just finding the closest resource that was applicable to my problem and paying someone else for their ideas. I’d get excited about a new purchase but sometimes after downloading it I would realize it wasn’t EXACTLY what I needed. I have always loved the planning process and my detail-oriented self LOVES lesson planning and curriculum development. 

Now I’m finally taking the leap and starting my own Teacher Pay Teachers store. I’m dying to know what resources you would like to see or what little seed of an idea you’ve had but just don’t have the time to create while getting ready for a new year. I want to hear from you!

Check back soon for my TPT grand opening!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Snow Day Realization

I'm sure there are lots of other people out there who read Babbling Abby or her teaching blog, The Inspired Apple. If not, you should. I have been following Abby for a few years now and she is not only an incredibly creative teacher, but also an awesome mommy. She's shared her story of trying to have her second child and the adoption process that came next. Anyways, I was reading her blog this morning and something really resonated with me so I thought I would share it here. It's a simple realization, but a powerful one that I'm sure most mothers have had.

Over the past few months of becoming a mommy and all the adjustments it has brought, I'm torn between being the best mom and a great teacher. Both come so naturally to me - and I'm thankful for that. But I've realized that being mommy is my number one job right now. Someone commented on Abby's blog that the "teachery" stuff will always be there, but these times with your baby go by so fast. I don't want to look back and remember trying to choose between report cards and other teachery things or playing with my baby on a snow day. Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy this time with N because it goes by so fast so I'm okay if this blog doesn't get updated as frequently (or at all). I'm going to focus on work when I'm at work and leave it there when I come home for the day. Teaching and whatever career step comes next will always be there.

As teachers we have the luxury of holidays, summers, awesome hours, and snow days! Before baby I would have used this time without students to get ahead ... now I find myself taking it one day at a time and using the extra hours to be with N. My perspective and priorities are completely different and I'm okay with it. Accepting this change has taken that burden of "I should be doing something for school" off my shoulders and allowed me to be present with my time at home. It feels good to know that's it okay to just focus on being mommy - my most important job!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm Back! And Happy New Year!

Well a lot has changed since my last post. I am now a teacher mommy and learning to balance the demands of being a wife, mother and teacher ... but man it is a lot of work. So sadly my blog has suffered, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things. As I wrote back in September, I got a job teaching kindergarten in a new district about 2 weeks before N was born. It was quite an experience interviewing, setting up a new classroom, and teaching for 2 days 9 months pregnant. I've now been back from maternity leave for about 2 months and I am getting used to life as a kindergarten teacher. I also always like to blog around this time because it was in January, 3 years ago that I stumbled upon the world of teacher blogs and they seriously changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but its true. I think my blog has been a huge tool in my success as a teacher and so even if I've taken some time from it, I always like to reflect in the new year.

One of the first blogs that I stumbled across were Mrs. Wills and Mrs. Jump's kindergarten blogs. I saw their penguin units and was instantly in love with their ideas. Not only did I recreate their penguin unit (which we are gearing up to do in a few weeks), I also knew I needed to join this blogging world. And I'm so glad I did!

So that's it for now. Just a little update to say that I'm still here and will be back with classroom ideas as we kick off 2014. Happy New Year!

This was back in October...crazy how fast babies grow!

Monday, September 2, 2013

My New Classroom!

It's official...I'm making the move from first grade to kindergarten this year! I feel incredibly lucky to get to work in my new school. There will be adjustments as there are with any new job, but this past week was teacher work week and I think I ended up in the perfect place for me.  It's been a whirlwind the past two weeks, from interviewing, getting hired, going through the HR stuff and setting up a new classroom. I was even able to empty our mud room and unpack all the boxes, thanks to some awesome new teacher friends...and yes all of this was done VERY pregnant. It is possible : ) And I'm thankful for keeping busy because otherwise I'd be going crazy sitting around at home waiting for this baby to come.

My husband was happy to load these boxes into the car for me! 
So at 9 months pregnant I'm feeling pretty accomplished. The first day of school is tomorrow and as I'm writing this I'm still very pregnant with no signs of the little man making his move...looks like this teacher will make it to the first day of school.

Hanging in there at 39 weeks pregnant. Thanks to Mom who helped me in the classroom today!

A view of my room. It wasn't quite done at this point but you get the idea.

I'm looking forward to a great year with my kindergarten class, but will probably be taking a little blogging break once little man arrives. For now, I've updated my blog for my newest teaching adventure and I can't wait to share the exciting things that will happen in the year ahead. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Organizing for Instruction

I'm so excited about today and tomorrow's topics for Teacher Week '13 because they are two areas that I feel are crucial for teachers to have under control, especially in the beginning of the year. I know "organizing" isn't everyone's idea of fun...but it just so happens to be mine!  My husband thinks I'm crazy but it actually relaxes me to organize things which must be why teaching is the profession for me because there is always more to do.

When it comes to planning instruction it can be overwhelming to think of each task that must be completed. I've spent hours researching and writing lesson plans and just when I think I'm done I realize now I have to go create this activity or organize this station. I admit sometimes my plans are quite lofty and I have to scale them back to reality. But with each year of teaching, I've had more units already planned and ready to use. It definitely helps when you have a few years under your belt and can rely on things you've already spent hours creating. I also find that there is always some new idea I want to try, so then I'm back to the drawing board. That's the fun in teaching anyways!

Last year I came up with a great system to help maximize my time before or after school and during planning. Each year I've been better and better about utilizing my time wisely so when I get home I can focus on family things and not be stressed about cutting out that roll of laminating film. I do better with a plan and realize this system may not work for everyone. I'm also a list person. Our plans were due on Friday last year so I would divide up the planning a little bit everyday so I didn't have to stay late Friday writing plans for the next week. It really helped me focus on each standard and gave me time to create or find things I may need for the next week. Starting on Monday with Grading & Filing, I've divided my major planning tasks into five days. Here's a little printable I made to keep myself on track. As I think of things I need to remember for each task, I'll write them down under the day.

Of course these are just guidelines and there is always more to do, especially those little tasks that pop up during the day and need to be taken care of. However, at least this way of thinking made sure that I didn't wait until Friday to start planning for the next week. It's all about staying ahead of the game. I like to Grade & File on Mondays because then I have all the assessments from the previous week and can use them to guide my instruction and small groups for the current week. And I'm not going to lie...a lot of time I end up grading on the weekends (in my comfy clothes) to get my differentiated groups straight for the week. I didn't designate a day to plan for small group reading and math instruction because I feel this is an ongoing task and I sort of do it daily. Once the kids go home for the day I look back at my small group notes from that day and quickly prepare for the next day. I find it difficult to plan out small groups too far in advance because they are always changing.

Another quick tip  when it comes to organizing instruction - and this doesn't sound like it has anything to do with instruction at all but...get the children to straighten up the room throughout the day and at the end. I can't tell you how much time I've wasted cleaning up after children when I could have been planning for instruction. Your time is already limited before school and during school, so why waste precious time after school doing something you can easily pass on to your students. Sounds simple, but makes such a big difference.

Those are my tips for planning instruction. Can't wait to share some behavior management ideas tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Let's Talk About Me Monday

I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Blog Hoppin' for their Teacher Week '13. Even though there is still a lot up in the air about where I will be teaching next year, I truly feel it will all work out for the best. So I'm pushing forward and keeping my head in the game by posting this little "Meet the Teacher."

Stay tuned for more Teacher Week '13 updates!