Most people make their new year's resolutions on January 1st. But not me. My year begins in August, with the start of a new school year.
I've got a bunch of resolutions, both as a teacher and as a parent. But let's start with the parenting resolutions first:
#1: Establish good homework routines for my kids (and remember that my little one is only 8!)
Why is it so hard to give a second child the same attention that we give our first? When my son was 8, I spent lots of time helping him manage his time and organize all his materials. I checked his homework and made him redo drafts of sloppy work. I want to make sure that I do the same thing for my daughter, despite the fact that I'm feeling a little burnt out and exhausted. She still needs lots of help with organization and skills, and I need to make time for her.
Fortunately, my son, who is now starting grade 6, has developed good homework habits, so I think I will encourage him to work more independently while I focus my attention on helping my daughter.
#2: Remember how important nature and free-play are, even for older kids.
As my kids grow older, I find that the pressures around them seem to grow too. There's more homework, there are so many options for scheduled activities at school, and time seems to be so limited. However, I want to make sure that I still leave lots of time for my kids to play outside with their friends and to read for pleasure. I think that "a green-hour" (ie time in nature) is SO important for kids. So, as my kids choose their activities and plan their weeks, I'm going to encourage them to sign up for fewer activities and preserve some time to play freely outdoors and to read for pleasure.
#3: Put away my laptop and phone, and engage more directly with my kids.
Lately I've been finding myself becoming increasingly addicted to my devices. And that scares me. Last week I snapped at my daughter because she wanted to read with me, but I was too busy checking my facebook account. Now, you tell me what's more important?
So my resolution this year is to create "No Tech Zones" for myself. When I come home from work, I will have a no-tech hour, where I can engage with my children with no distractions. And similarly, from dinner till bedtime will be a "no-tech zone." We'll all focus on real human engagement -- something that's becoming increasingly endangered not just in schools but in homes.
#4: Focus on Wellness.
By the end of the last school year, I was an exhausted mess. My back constantly hurt, I was taking way too many advils for headaches, and I found myself feeling increasingly cranky. Let's face it: teaching is one of the most demanding and exhausting professions in the world. And adding parenting and book promotion to the mix, makes my life even more exhausting.
So this year, I'm going to schedule in the following:
- a morning yoga/stretching/mindfulness routine (I think I might add some brief 5 minute stretch and mindfulness breaks into my classroom routines as well.)
- Long walks or runs in the evening, when my kids are playing outside. I need a green hour just as much as they do.
- And more time for my own independent reading at nights and on weekends. Nothing relaxes and revives me like a good book!
#5: Enjoy the year!
Often, I think that I am so lucky. I love my job; I teach fantastic kids. I love being a mom and watching my own kids grow. And I enjoy all the writing and reading I do. I want to remind myself to slow down a bit and enjoy all the kids whom I work with and all the wonderful bits and pieces of my life.