Today’s “Fired Up Friday” is a post dedicated to all of the teachers who “do it all” or actually, who don’t do it all. Hear me out.
Remember that sweet post about Lincoln’s first day of school. Well here’s what you didn’t see, in the photo below. Also, just so you know, after that glorious first day, he screamed and cried the entire day for the next two days of school. He’s just now getting used to school, but he still cries terribly at drop off and clings to my neck for dear life. When his teachers pull him off of me, I sprint for the door.
The amazing Whitney English wrote this blog post today titled “Death to Doing It All”. It really resonated with me because, as she says, we don’t do it all. I remember when I was a teacher and single and even when I was then a wife (not even having any children yet), my schedule was as follows: I would wake up at 5, get ready, drive an hour to work (yes I did this every day), worked with 20 precious 7 year olds, stayed a little after school to prepare and plan, drive an hour home, get almost home and think “I cannot possibly think about making dinner”. And I’d swing by Chipotle right as I got off my exit. By the time I ate, showered and said hello to my husband, it was 9 pm. And I was hitting the pillow… hard. I would never have described myself as “doing it all”, but it sure looked that way. I couldn’t imagine how teachers with children felt!
And then I had a baby! Luckily, I had a baby in June, so I didn’t have to worry about trying to do it all during the school year. Yes, I took a maternity leave and had the year off from teaching. But when my sweet baby was 4 months old, that’s when I had the idea to start C. Jayne Teach (and I also ran that little Etsy shop on the side that I previously mentioned). I had a lot of people ask me how I “did it all” while having baby such a short time ago. I just smiled and laughed. But little did they know, that that was hardly the case. Full disclosure here: I barely scraped by some days. I had a really hard time after Lincoln was born. I cried… a lot. I had an extremely difficult time nursing and ended up exclusively pumping for 9 months. That means for roughly 280 days of Lincoln’s life, I hooked myself up to a machine, seven times a day for 15 minutes each in order to feed my child (that’s 1,960 times for those of you who are counting and around 29,400 minutes of my life). I stayed up late learning Illustrator on Lynda.com and taking care of a baby and (admittedly) left little time to spend with my husband. I attended conferences (drove to and from Atlanta in ONE DAY for Making Things Happen to get back to be with Lincoln) and learned as feverishly as I could about this new business of mine. I would have “business meetings” and vendor calls, all during nap time (which changed daily). And I even had a plate of tacos dumped on my lap in the middle of a lunch meeting with my accountant (by Lincoln not by the accountant). Here’s the thing though… I wouldn’t trade those difficult moments for anything in the world because it made me stronger as an entrepreneur, as a mom and as a wife. And I won’t say life is easy peasy now because, well, that just wouldn’t be real, but it is pretty good. We have a routine, I am able to run a business from my home and teach classes at a University here in town. And I’m even able to cook dinner some nights! But I still don’t do it all.
So to those of you who see me as a teacher, a professor, an entrepreneur, a wife, a mom, a friend and you think I have it all and do it all. Thank you. But I am as human as the next person. I want you to be a little less hard on yourself. You are doing an amazing job. You are a fabulous ______ (teacher, parent, spouse, friend) and you rock. I know not every day is good, but you have some great ones too – you do! And tomorrow is a new day. (And if you need me to remind you of that each morning, I will… that’s why I created the pep talk mug! :))
As Whitney says, in response to the question, “How do YOU do it?”, I would like to propose a more productive conversation: tell us about your awesome. Tell us how you do the important stuff. Tell us how you do what matters. Tell us how you found your balance. Tell us what your strengths are. Tell us what lessons you learned. Blog about your awesome loudly. Because the world needs your expertise, your passion, and the lessons you’ve learned. The world needs your AWESOME. The world doesn’t need to know how you do it “all”. The world needs to know how you do that one little thing really, really well.”
So, how do I do what matters? I focus on my core. I focus on making decisions every day under the mantra “always make each day count“. Whether I’m designing something new to help teachers in their classroom, meeting with a student from one of my courses, or taking Lincoln to the park, I’m always trying to make the day count. I take the little victories amidst the times that I fall down. (Case and point: Lincoln had a HUGE meltdown on the floor of the Verizon store as I’m trying to purchase a new iPhone today. I stood in line for 45 minutes and I was NOT leaving before that phone was in my hand. So I gave him my keys to chew on and a piece of a doughnut that they were giving away… because of course he threw the grapes and healthy snacks I brought with us all over the ground. BUT little man ended up taking a four hour nap in the afternoon, which totally made up for that meltdown. And I got to spend time learning my new phone and doing a little finalizing some Christmas products! Victory!)
And focusing on my core goes for all of the products and original lesson plans in my shop too. They’re all designed around what matters. They all have a piece of my beliefs in them and a purpose for your classroom. The desk pads are to keep you organized, and keep lots of little lists from cluttering up your desk. This frees up more space for you to work with your students! Because how many times do we skip reading groups because the table is just too messy? Guilty! The rubber stamps are meant to help you easily label your supplies so you don’t have to worry about lending them out and sharing with your students or colleagues because now you know they’ll find their way home. And we all know about the Teacher Anchor.
So I want you to go into this weekend and into next week and all the weeks following by knowing that you’re AWESOME. Who cares if you did it all? Did you make today count? Did you spend your time making decisions in your classroom and your home based on your core? Well then, I’d say that’s a pretty good day.