This school year has been a struggle. Creating and feeling confident in my lesson plans, juggling kid extracurriculars, planning that once in a blue moon date with Justin, and just finding time to sit and not have a single thing to do seems impossible (it really is!). I won’t lie, I have had multiple crying episodes and breakdowns over my lack of a work/life balance. And honestly, when employers tout that as a benefit of working for their company, I have to think most are lying. It’s simply NOT possible unless the individual makes that a priority. And I’m no good at that. I have gone back and forth so much this year considering taking time off of work for the next few years because I feel so overwhelmed with all that is on my to do list and never moved to-done! Here are a few things I am trying to stay as calm and sane as possible as I work with my eye on the prize (summer with my girls!).
Break a Sweat
People give me credit for working out in the morning. I really do it because if I don’t, there is no way it will get done. I get home from work and the last thing I have energy for is changing into workout clothes and lifting or getting on the treadmill. I can barely get dinner on the table before we are running to after school activities. Working out, no way! So, the morning, as exhausting as it can be rolling out of bed at that way early hour, is my way of having a little me time. I have found on my worst mornings (the nights before were ripe with anxiety and worries about my career abilities, etc), the harder I push myself and the faster I move, the less my mind is able to focus on the negatives. I get a good workout and my body feels good, making my outlook more optimistic. A win-win situation if you ask me, but no matter when the best time is that works for your schedule, getting that stress out in a productive manner is the goal.
Talk it out!
Whether a blessing (for me) or a curse (for Justin), he is the one I turn to most often for advice or as a sounding board. Sometimes it is to vent, other times it may be for affirmation or advice, but talking out situations that are challenging or bothering me almost always feel more manageable after I have worked through them in conversation. If it’s during the school day, I don’t hesitate to turn to my fabulous coworkers. Their range of experience and insight has talked me off of many cliffs over the years. If nothing else, commiserating with them confirms that it isn’t just me that can struggle with a student, or a lesson approach, or a difficult parent. And that is enough to allow me to think through solutions instead of focusing on the negatives. If you talk to someone, ANYONE, about something that is bothering you, it feels like a weight is lifted. If I bottle the problem up, I often make myself physically ill, and seriously, how does that help? Trust me, I have many conversations with myself about this (which is another problem for another day).
Even if I can manage to get the kids to bed at a decent hour so that I can read a good book (not work-related) it’s a win! Other ways that help me decompress are watching a movie I have been wanting to see (I often reserve all the oscar nominees at the library, it gives me a great variety!), meeting a friend out for drinks or dinner, taking the occasional yoga class when I’m feeling fancy (go with a friend to this, too!), or baking a treat that I have been wanting to try. Anything that helps my mind stop focusing on what I perceive to be the negatives is good for my outlook and by extension, good for my family!
I wish I could say I have the secret answers to fix the world’s stressors, but unfortunately that is just not the case. The above ideas are what work for me. Lastly, and this one is my personal outlet/obsession- I Amazon! It’s like perusing Pinterest, except I typically end of spending money. Hey, at least I don’t pay shipping! Lately I have found so many cool brands that give me more unique clothing options for a fraction of what I would probably pay at a mall store. Here’s my latest pick from the Amazon vault. It’s oversized and cozy as they come. Added bonus it’s in my Browns’ colors, if they decide to actually play football next season. Shopping is of course the cure-all (Justin is shaking his head at me), but really, I am trying to be better! If you have a go-to tip that helps calm yourself or keeps your mind in check, I would love to hear it (and if you know of other amazing Amazon lines I should check out, tell me that, too)!