At one point in our motherhood lives, we've all questioned whether we made the right decision to stay at home for our kids or go to work. Endless conversations among friends and families about which is the better choice, which moms work the hardest, which supermoms keep their kitchen floors spotless, which moms wear those elastic waistband yoga pants and pretend they're work pants or pajama pants, and of course, the perpetual guilt about how our choices affect our children's lives.
I don't want to talk about that anymore. Stay at home moms, you're awesome! Working moms, you're awesome! I've felt guilty enough for everything related to motherhood that I'm done with those feelings. It's a waste of time.
I do want to talk about the life lessons I've learned from the job I've signed up for once I became a mother to Devyn many years ago. I've learned more from teaching than anywhere else. So much more. I've learned a lot about management.
"I don't know how you do it," is usually a phrase mothers tell each other. The real secret, though, is we already know how we do it. We MANAGE. And we manage well if we're able to get up every morning to do it over and over again. Mothers manage. Mothers manage multiple things at the same time. It's in our nature. It's also in our nature to question ourselves. Are we doing it right? The answer is: Yes, you are.
At a teacher training last week, I met a beautiful, young first-time teacher. We happened to strike up a conversation about weight loss, so we hit it off immediately. Yesterday she sent me a message that made me chuckle because it felt like we were already old friends:
"Oooh, Pia, I suck! I totally cheated on my diet this weekend."
She told me she had something delicious that was off plan, and explained to me that it used to be her favorite. Now it just made her sick and completely frustrated. Plus, two days of cheating added 4 lbs. to her weight gain. And on the same message she wrote:
"What should I expect in the classroom? What about discipline?"
Oh, girl......where do I begin? There's always something unexpected in the classroom. There's always something I can do better with classroom discipline. There's always going to be temptation in the break room where someone is offering you a slice of pizza or taking orders for homemade tamales when all you really want to do is make 42 copies of your summative assessment. No amount of training can prepare any new or seasoned teacher for the stuff that happens in action. It's an amazing hot mess - just like motherhood.
My recent obsession in getting acquainted with my new school while maintaining my goal weight has taught me so much about management that I think I can add this skill in my resume now! I've worked too hard with my transformation to let go of myself due to stress eating. It's hard, but manageable. I often get frustrated, cry like a little brat, and get CRAY CRAY, but it's still manageable with the right amount of support. I've come to realize that my weight management rules are so similar to my own classroom management.
1. GOAL SETTING: We need to write down our goals everyday. We have objectives that we need to meet, and our students need to be aware of them so that they know what's expected of them. Same thing with weight management. Write down your goal for the day and be specific. Today my goal is to stay awake and make it to dance class. I think I can. I think I can.
2. UNDERSTAND CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES: If you eat that slice of pizza for lunch, then understand that you already spent 200 calories for that one slice. It takes me about 15 (or maybe 30) veeery slow minutes on the elliptical to burn off 200 calories. If I don't burn it off with cardio, then I just might not be able to button my shorts. Is it worth it? Choices and consequences - you tell your kids that the choices they make affect consequences. Same for your body. I tell myself this over and over again when I find myself eating a whole bar of chocolates and then being unable to close the button on my jeans without producing a muffin top. I have to accept! I have a muffin top, but I also had a whole bar of Hershey's in one sitting. If you eat candy before dinner, then you'll be full and have to pretend that you're finishing your plate and sitting still at the dinner table. So fine, I accept! I will change! Choices and consequences, kids. If you choose this, then that will happen. Accept or change. If you're still frustrated, ask for help.
3. PLAN AHEAD: You're required to write weekly lesson plans so you and your appraiser know that you're meeting your objectives. It's part of your job. Do it for yourself. Write your meal and workout plans and check them off as you go. Be your own accountability partner.
4. TRACK PROGRESS/ACTIVITY: Just as you keep a notebook to remind yourself what you need to do in the classroom everyday, keep another one to remind yourself what you've eaten and what you've done for exercise daily. Write down improvements and setbacks. You'll soon notice a pattern in the behavior, and you'll be better equipped when you anticipate those changes.
5. BREAK YOUR OWN RULES: It's okay if you break a rule. Forgive yourself. Forgive your students. Seriously, you won't have to go to detention. If you or your kids break any of these rules, go back to Rule #2, but be kind to them and to yourself. Be understanding. You'll do better next time. Why? Because you've been able to manage by creating a safe learning environment in your world that you can learn from failing.
So I wish you success, dear Beautiful,Young First-Time Teacher! Just as you've managed to raise your babies, you'll manage your classroom and your weight all at the same time. You're already doing it. I wish you a very accomplished school year. Don't hesitate to write to me because I'll also need your support as I go through the same thing. I'll be making choices again. I'll be suffering through consequences. I'll be making mistakes. But I'll be learning with you and the kids.