The start of the school year always takes its toll on me. While I thrive on routine, getting both a household and a classroom back on board isn't always easy (I'll spare you the details). My contribution to school sports is to coach the Cross Country team each year, which I love, but it gets off to a quick start once the school year begins, a commitment of both time and emotional energy. For the past few years I've also helped out with the Student Government, which hits the ground running with a Terry Fox fundraiser and Thanksgiving food drive, but thankfully we have a new teacher on staff who was enthusiastic about taking that on, giving me more breathing room as the year began.
First Day of School
Every September there are new teaching challenges (as there should be) and this year the Grade 7/8 teacher and I decided to do a subject swap for our areas of interest and expertise: he's teaching Science to my 2/3s (our baby chicks will hatch next week!), and I'm teaching Writing in his class, which I absolutely love. My intermediate experience in the past has been four years of Core French and three years of working with gifted students, so this is very different but a lot of fun (though a lot of work, too). The fact that I taught most of the kids back when they were in Grade 3 makes things even more interesting!
Another challenge this year is having my younger daughter in my class. I know, I know - I said I'd never do it. However, I also say that parents need to trust the school when their child is given a placement, and I have to practice what I preach. Other than a tiny glimmer of attitude the first week of school, so far it's working out fine. My biggest issue is that I find it redundant to sign her agenda every night as her mom, so it sits out on the counter until her father gets around to reading and signing it, and you know I have issues with counter clutter. In the big picture, this is probably not a big deal. While I assumed my daughter would want space from me in the evenings, she's actually more affectionate (and occasionally even clingy) than ever. My mom's theory is that after sharing my attention with a classroom of other children all day, she's anxious to have me to herself for a while one we get home.
I worry a bit about what others may think of me teaching my own child, but I know she won't be given any preferential treatment, and in fact I have to make sure I don't go too far the other way (not choosing her for something just because I don't want it to seem like I'm playing favourites). As my nieces and nephew who have gone before her would tell you, I'm just as hard on family as I am on other people's kids, partly because I love them so much.
Whenever I do that mom thing of worrying about whether anyone else is judging me - "How do you do it all?" can be (mis)interpreted as "Which part are you screwing up?" - I remind myself that not many employed moms actually spend their days in the same buildings as their children (not to mention this year in the same room as one) which means I'm automatically there for Merit Awards, assemblies, special events, coaching them on a team - what a beautiful bonus. (What I was actually doing there was reminding you of that, in case you're one of the Judgy Judgersons. Which would actually surprise me because my readers are awesome.) With so much quantity and quality time with my girls, I feel no guilt about work, hobbies, date nights or girls' nights. Just the odd twinge that maybe someone else thinks I should.
I told myself before school started, as I wrapped up the summer with some fun posts (a list of my Favourite Things; interviews with Scott McGillivray, Sangita Patel, Farah Nasser and Alan Carter; details on my debut at The Social) that I was really going to have to prioritize my time and try to avoid my usual September sickness. Blogging, freelance writing and TV efforts right now are limited and focused solely on educational topics (except for the occasional celebrity interview, which I just can't turn down!) because it makes me feel like my priorities are in line. I thrive when I feel that my house is in order, not only figuratively but literally, and that takes time and energy too. (I've been doing more microblogging lately though, so you can always get updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.)
It's not like my outside pursuits have come to a grinding halt. As you'll soon hear more about, I have a new article in the latest issue of Today's Parent magazine, another coming soon in Parents Canada, a CHEX Daily appearance later this month and my next segment on The Social taking place
While I didn't manage to escape illness this fall (I'm coming out the other side of a three week cold/flu/sinus issue and went a whole week without stepping foot on the treadmill), Thanksgiving weekend was exactly what I needed to recharge. Days full of family, food and relaxation (a movie with my sisters-in-law, three family dinners, lots of time on the couch, a few soaks in the hot tub, a gorgeous walk to the Trestle Bridge - pic above) helped me get back on track - even if I did sneak in a bit of work on progress reports too. You'll never take the list-crosser-offer out of this girl...I just need to make sure the list is full of the things that are really important.