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It's a Boy! Balancing Motherhood & Teaching

By Beth Newingham on March 24, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

I welcomed my second bundle of joy on Friday, March 12th. Evan joined his 2-year-old brother Luke, weighing in at a hefty eight pounds! Before having my first son two years ago, I never could have imagined the joy that children would bring to my life. Prior to having kids, I was certainly one of those teachers who arrived early, stayed late, worked on "school stuff" every evening, and even spent much of my weekend planning and preparing lessons for the days and weeks to come.  While there are certainly days and weeks when I feel that I am still maintaining that way of life, I am finally learning to strike a healthy balance between motherhood and teaching.  Teaching is certainly a passion of mine, but my two boys have helped me learn that there is more to life than creating great lesson plans and updating my class Web site!  It is certainly challenging to be a great mom and a great teacher, but I have found some creative and successful ways to do both.


Read on to learn how I balance my teaching responsibilities with my family life!


Get Organized!


Mom and baby Being organized has really helped me maintain peace of mind when it comes to my teaching.  I find that truly planning ahead reduces the stress that comes from preparing lessons the night before or forgetting to send home important or timely notes.  Here are some of the organizational strategies I've put into place to keep myself sane!

1. Plan Units Instead of Lessons: I have used the past few summers to write out "units at a glance" along with daily lesson plans for the units I teach in reading, writing, word study, and social studies.  While it was a lot of work at the time, I am so grateful each week when I can just look ahead and see exactly what I will be teaching.

2. Stay Late (or Arrive Early) ONE Day a Week: I choose Mondays to stay late each week.  Since my husband's office is closed on Mondays, I stay an extra hour or two at school to get everything I will need for the week laid out, copied, and organized.  This allows me to come to school each day and not have to scramble around getting things ready for my daily lessons.  Notes and/or worksheets are copied, posters for mini-lessons are pulled out of storage, and word study center activities are set up for the week.  On the rest of my work days I am more able to get right home to my boys for some quality time together!

3. Look Ahead: At the beginning of each month, I look ahead at any events, field trips, or special projects. I have found that busyness at home can lead to forgetfulness at school! There were times during my first year back after having my first son that I would forget to send home field trip permission slips or other informative notes until days before the event. Looking ahead and getting all notes created and copied ahead of time has saved me many headaches!



Use Parent Helpers!

Parent Prior to having my own kids, I actually did not use parent helpers much.  I felt bad asking parents to do "my work" (copying, putting class books together, laminating word study center activities, creating new math game materials, etc.)   However, it was often these "easy" (although time-consuming) tasks that were keeping me at school for so many hours after the students were dismissed.  My teaching partner and I now send home a parent volunteer calendar where parents can sign up to come in and help on any day of the week.  As soon as we know they are coming, we make sure to have work ready for them to do.  I can't believe I did not use parents before.  They have saved me a great deal of time that can now be spent with my family!

Mix School Life With Family Life

I make an effort to make my family life part of my school life whenever possible.  Especially now that my first son is getting older, I often take him to after-school events hosted at our school.  Luke loves the school fair, family game night, the ice cream social, and other fun events planned by our staff or the P.T.O.  I also bring my son to school to meet my class throughout the school year.  He took part in our schoolwide Halloween parade, made a short appearance at our class Valentine's Day party, and came to our Southeast region "Disney Day" tour stop to share his "Disney Museum" items (thanks, dad!).  He also tagged along with my mom (grandma) when she was a Mystery Reader in our classroom.

100_4747 Disney

My husband, a dentist, also visits our classroom in February to do some fun "Dental Health Month" activities with my students.  (Check out his Dental Health Month "Totally Terrific Tooth Trivia" Challenge!)  I am careful that Luke's appearances do not interfere with academic time, but I do feel that it is important for my students to be familiar with my family.  I talk about my family often when I am teaching, and I like that my students are able to connect their faces to my stories.

IMG_1474 IMG_5213

 

Explore Creative Solutions for a More Flexible Work Schedule

Evan sleep Luke After having my first son, I went back to teaching the following year in a shared-time position with another teacher in my district. I am lucky to teach in a district where shared teaching is supported by our administration.  I teach on Monday, Tuesday, and every other Wednesday.  My teaching partner teaches Thursday, Friday, and every other Wednesday.  With this schedule, I am able to be home with my kids two to three weekdays each week.  However, it does take a great deal of communication with my teaching partner.  We are in constant communication about our students, but it is actually nice to have a partner to confer with when it comes to making academic and behavioral decisions about our students.  I also know of teachers in other districts who split the days in half so that one teacher teaches certain subjects in the morning, and the other teacher teaches the rest of the subjects in the afternoon.  This option would likely require less communication between the two teachers, but it would mean both teachers would need to be at school every day of the week.

I would highly recommend shared-time teaching to any working moms or dads who are looking to strike a balance between teaching and parenting.  I was not ready to stay at home full time, as my passion for teaching was too great.  However, I was also not ready to leave my kids and work a full-time job.  Shared-time allows me to do both "jobs," and I have found that I am better able to put 100% into both my teaching and my parenting with this ideal schedule.



Learn to Say No!

This was the most challenging thing for me when I returned to school as a working mom.  I have always been the teacher who volunteered for every committee and took on many responsibilities on top of my classroom obligations.  I continued doing this even during my first year back after having Luke and quickly learned that I can not do it all!  As difficult as it was to not be a part of all that was happening at my school and in my district, I knew that being a good mom to my son was more important than anything I was doing in my professional life.  I had to reevaluate my priorities and decide what committees and projects were incredibly important to me and determine which ones I needed to drop. I immediately felt a sense of relief as I let go of some very time-consuming commitments that were taking up valuable time both at school and at home.


Do Away With Less Purposeful (yet Time-Consuming) Projects in Your Classroom

As soon as I became a working mom, I realized that I could not do all of the "extra" things I had been so accustomed to doing in my classroom before I had my own kids.  There were activities that required hours of preparation and projects that consumed my time outside of school.  Movie-making is a perfect example of this.  I used to make four to five movies a year with my students and would spend entire weekends editing the movies.  While I still do a couple of movies a year, I have cut back on this time-consuming activity in my classroom.

I also looked at all of the projects that I had done with my students in the past and ranked them in order of academic importance and curricular purpose.  I was able to determine that quite a few time-consuming projects were not worth the time and effort required to pull them off.  Many teachers look at my Web site and say, "How do you do it all?"  The truth is that many of the activities you see highlighted on the Web site are not things I do every year. Some are special projects related to our year-long theme or are things I have done once or twice in the past. 

Updating my class Web site has also become more challenging with kids at home.  I do not have all the time in the world to update it each week, so I have come to terms with the fact that it is okay to update it once a month instead.

 

Use Every Minute of the Day!

I am very conscious of my precious prep time.  My students always have at least one special class (gym, art, music, Spanish, media) each day.  During this time I am not in charge of the students and can get work done in my classroom.  Prior to having kids I would find myself chatting with the office staff or other staff members I bumped into in the copy room instead of really getting work done.  I always knew I could just stay after school and finish it later.  I now use every minute of my prep time to grade papers, update bulletin boards, make copies, etc.  I often find myself working through my lunch break as well, but it is also important for me to visit the staff lounge so that I stay connected with my fellow staff members.



Set Aside a Family Day

Family1 I try as hard as I can to make Saturday my family day.  On this day of the week, I attempt to avoid anything related to school and spend the entire morning, afternoon, and evening doing fun things with my husband and kids.  My husband is kind enough to give me uninterrupted time on Sundays to do lesson plans for the week, create my weekly newsletter, and get things prepared for my teaching days.  I find that I am more refreshed and ready to teach on Mondays when I have spent quality time with my family during the weekend! 

 

Kudos to my amazing husband who is so supportive of my career and completely understands the demands that come along with being an elementary teacher!

FB


Share Your Balancing Act

I would love to hear from other moms and dads who are juggling teaching with parenthood!  Share some tips with me and other readers of the blog who are currently balancing family life and teaching.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Do you want to know when I add new posts to my blog?  Subscribe to my blog HERE!

Comments (43)

Thank you for the great ideas. I use quite a few but I always modify to suit me. I am looping with my kids to third grade this year and I'm looking for all the ideas I could get. So thank you for continuing to add to your website.

Beth, Congrats to you and thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas. I recently gave birth to my second daughter on March 16th. After I had my first daughter, my colleague and I approached the district about a job share, but we were turned down due to the "economic climate." Any suggestions for approaching this idea again with our administration?

Congratulations Beth on your new baby boy! I enjoy reading your posts and blog. This post made me feel a lot better about my time management, since apparently you don't do ALL of those activities on your website EVERY year. :D This will be my second year of teaching, and I am trying out the units-at-a-glance idea this summer for next year. Do you have a sample or template that you could post to show how you did yours? It would be much appreciated. Enjoy the summer and have fun with your new little one!

Mary,

I am glad that this post helped you to feel "renewed and excited!" Working on things during the summer works so well for me because I can really focus on specific areas of my teaching and not have to also have the stress of grading papers, lesson planning, weekly newsletters, etc. I usually get a babysitter once every couple of weeks during the summer and really get as much work done as I can organizing my classroom, planning units of study, etc. It makes the school year seem less hectic and stressful!

I'm glad you have found my resources to be helpful, and I appreciate your thoughtful comments!

-Beth

Beth, I have recently become a mother in addtion to a teacher, and it has been the hardest transition of my life. I too was a teacher who stayed late, worked on weekends, etc., but have found out that I do not have the time or energy to do that anymore. I also do not want to take that time away that I could be spending with my baby; they're only this little once. After I read your blog I felt so renewed & excited (even more than before)for the summer so that I can become more prepared for next year, and the years to come. Your website has been so helpful to me in the past, but it's been more helpful than you know during this time of my life, so thank you! I love seeing what goes on in your room! You are not only inspiring your students, you are also inspiring other teachers! :)

Judy,

Job sharing is certainly a wonderful way to balance career and family! I'm glad you were able to do it while your children were young.

You asked about the dice stools that I have at my writing center. I purchased them years ago from Oriental Trading. However, they are no longer available from that website.

I was able to find them at the link below, but they are much more expensive than when I bought them.

Here is the link if you are still interested: http://www.demco.com/goto?BLK83546&LPCL81

-Beth

Hi Beth, I'm much older than you but greatly appreciate the creative ideas you share. I'm one of those teachers who constantly rethinks and changes what I do and your web page inspires me to try new things. My three children are grown but I remember the days of juggling job and family. I did a job share with another teacher. She taught mornings and I did afternoons and it worked beautifully for us. I think we were a little ahead of our time with job sharing but it was a great concept. Just wondering where you got those "dice" stools I see on your classroom photos. I love them! Good luck with you adorable boys and cherish every minute. Time flies by so quickly.

Beth,

I am a teacher in North Carolina, but I am origionally from Clarkston Michigan. I recently returned to teaching after maternity leave. I am very interested in the shared teaching you have discussed in this post. I am wondering if I could ask you some more specific questions through an email conversation. Please respond to the above email address. I can not wait to hear from you!! I had never thought about being able to split my time between two things that I love. I have some hope now that stayng at home may be possible!!! :)

Thank you so much Gretchen ghamilton5@gmail.com

Rija,

I am missing you and the rest of the class too while I am out on maternity leave. I will bring Baby Evan and Luke to school soon to meet all of you. I am also looking forward to seeing you at the Poetry Cafe next week!

I'm glad you are enjoying the region tour of the Southeast with Mrs. Gordon! I know she is having fun teaching social studies while I am gone.

I'll see you soon!

-Mrs. Newingham

we miss you! hope you bring your to baby were all excitied to see Luke and Even! were soooooooooo used to MRS.Gordon (not that it is a bad thing) we are having sooooooooooooooo much fun like with the big rig and working under our desks can't wait to see you again Rija=Awesome Mrs.Newingham=AWESOME can't forget about Mrs.Gordon Mrs.Gordon=AWESOME both of you guys are cool B.T.W i won three book awards today isn't that cool RIJA $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is cool

Jaime,

It's fun to see a familiar face post on my blog!! I'm glad my post made you feel better about giving up some of the things you used to do at school. We just can't so it all, but it took me a while to realize that. I now know that these years with my boys are priceless, and sometimes saying no to committees and other commitments at school is the only way to truly be successful in my role as a mom. I hope you are enjoying your one little man! Happy first birthday Troy!

-Beth

Rebecca,

I really appreciate you posting your very personal story on my blog. I know many moms who have battled postpartum depression, and the thought of returning to school full time is probably hard to imagine. When I had my first son, I had to return to school just for one week, and I still had so much anxiety leaving my 12 week old. However, it is so nice to know that you will have the entire summer with your little one. I know that when I finally returned to teaching for good in the fall, I was much more comfortable leaving my son. He was nearly 6 months old by then and was on a pretty predictable schedule.

I hope you will also find that living near your immediate family will also make motherhood so much easier. I can't imagine not having my parents around. My mom babysits for me while I am teaching and is available whenever I need her. She keeps me sane at times when my husband is out of town and I feel like school is too overwhelming.

Good luck finding a part-time job next year. Working part-time is certainly a great way to balance motherhood and teaching!

-Beth

Beth, First of all, your new baby, Evan, is so precious! After reading this, I felt much better. We have a lot in common. I was the same way with staying long hours, volunteering, and not utilizing parents. I utilize them to the fullest now! I also do not waste time during prep. Congratulations on giving some things up and spending time with your family. It is so hard with this demanding job, but so worth it. No matter what, you will always be a fantastic and amazing teacher I admire! Enjoy your special time! Sincerely, Jaime

Laurie,

You are SO right about trying to teach the same grade for multiple years. I have now been teaching 3rd grade for 8 years, and each year becomes easier since I know the curriculum so well and am not spending my time creating all new materials for the lessons I teach. I have been lucky to be able to maintain my position, but many of my colleagues are switched to different grade levels without being given a choice (due to fluctuating enrollment).

It overwhelms me to even think about switching grades at this point with my two little ones at home. The amount of time it would take outside of the teaching day for me to create all new lesson plans and learn the curriculum might make me choose to stay at home:)

Thanks for your comments! Congrats on being a new mommy!

-Beth

Lee Ann R.,

That is great that you are able to bring your daughters with you to school. That provides you with more time with your children even while you are working! I'm sure you feel so connected to their school experiences and are able to be such a part of their school life. I currently teach in a district that is different from the one in which I live. I have the choice of bringing my boys to my school, but I haven't made that decision yet. Your comments made me really think it would be a great idea. I do know that it would be frustrating to have different vacations and school calendars.

Thanks for posting your comments about balancing motherhood and teaching. I'm glad that you found some of my suggestions to be helpful!

-Beth

Beth-

I tell my colleauges that I want to be like you when I "grow up." As it stands right now, I am a third grade teacher who had my first child (a son) ten weeks ago. I have been battling with Postpartum Depression for the past ten weeks and trying to figure out how to go back to work. I am so happy you posted this blog entry. You have given me tons of ideas about how to deal with going back to work. Granted, I will only have about 5 weeks left (if my doctor lets me), but they are still some of the most difficult 5 weeks of the year. (2 of those weeks will be state testing and the remaining 3 will be closing out the year and report cards.)

This summer, my family will be moving back to the area where our immediate family lives. I do not have a full time job lined up yet. I am hoping to be able to work part time after the summer.

Again, thank you for posting this, and the other awesome things on your site. I really enjoy reading all the exciting and interesting things you have done with your classes over the years.

-Rebecca

Maureen,

Unfortunately I do not have great advice for you in terms of finding time for yourself. That is still a problem with which I struggle to find a solution! After making changes in my professional life to make more time for my family, I guess I am still neglecting myself. However, being with my husband and kids makes me the most happy, so I do get a great deal of enjoyment from that.

I also have a wonderful husband who takes the kids when I need a girls night out or a trip to the mall. Using our parents as babysitters also allows my husband and I do go to dinner or out with our friends on occasion as well.

While I know that I probably need to have more "me time," I have accepted the fact that at this point in my life my kids must be my main priority. When they grow older and more independent, I'm sure I will be able to find more time for myself.

Thanks for your comments!

-Beth

Congratulations, Beth!

Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas, and thank you for showing other new moms that it IS possible to find a balance that works!

My suggestion to others is to stay at the same school, teaching the same grade, if possible. I was always willing to move when changes were needed, but for the past three years I have taught 3rd grade at the same school. And what a difference that has made!

Thank you, again, Beth! You have been such an inspiration to me.

Take care, Laurie

Hi!! Congratulations on your new boy!!Both of your boys are adorable! I have two daughters, 16 and 12, and I still feel guilty when I am busy with school things instead of spending time with them. I used to teach full-time for a school district that was 25 minutes from our home. My youngest was starting preschool, and I took time off to take her to her first day, for Kindergarten screening, when one of the girls got sick at their school, etc. and I felt like a terrible mother, that I couldn't be there for them.We also had different vacation schedules. When my oldest was 10, she told me that I spent more time on my kids at school than I did with her. Wow, what a wake-up call!! The next school year, I took a part-time job at the school they attend, and my 12 yr. old now rides to school with me in the morning, and I pick her up from school. We get to spend our vacations and snow days together, too! I agree with your idea that you need to get organized and spend your plan time on school things. It takes a lot of focus to do that because it is so easy to start talking and then, plan time is over! I believe that teaching is a great profession for parents-we get to have a few months off to spend with our children. Enjoy your summer with your boys!

Thank you for sharing your post, it has been extremely helpful. However,you discussed balancing motherhood and school and my question is do you ever find time for yourself? If so when and how do you do it? I teach second grade and have two children. I am constantly going and find no time for me yet. I am the last to be taken care of. Any advice?

Katie,

Thanks for pointing out that my suggestions are not just for working moms! I know that even before I had kids my school life/home life balance was not in check! I would spend hours at school and devote entire weekends to lesson planning. Although I am now grateful for all of my hard work in the past (as it saves me time now), I began to realize that I needed to put more time into my personal life as well. My husband reminded me of that often:)

You asked about my reading workshop units of study. I actually worked with a few other teachers to write our own reading workshop units for the 3rd grade teachers in our district. While I cannot share those here on this blog, here is a link to a great website where you can find some great reading workshop units of study for all grade level K-5: http://curriculum.dpsk12.org/index.htm#lit_pg

Lucy Calkins is also coming out with her own reading workshop units of study. Here is a link to more information about her new product: http://www.unitsofstudy.com/teachingReading/default.asp

I hope this helps!

-Beth

Congratulations on your new baby boy! What a beautiful family. Your website is amazing! You have our team so excited and ready to revamp and plan for next year. We'd love to stay in contact and continue to follow your website and your class. We do have a few questions in the meantime. We teach fourth grade in Columbia, SC. My teaching partner and I are looking to improve our Reading Workshop with the addition of some new novels. Can you point us in the right direction or even help us out with a list of novels which have worked well for you? Thanks so much. Enjoy your boys!

Jodi,

I was touched by your comments! It is great to hear from another mom who has found my online materials to be helpful as you transitioned into your role as a new mom. I'm sure you are so busy now with your young twins, and I am so glad that this blog and my website have helped make your job easier. I am always so appreciative of other teachers who share with me too. I have certainly used many resources created by my peers to make by job easier since having my own kids!

I love the suggestions you offered about balancing motherhood and teaching. Having a structured routine where you have certain tasks you do each day sounds like a great plan. I think it sounds like something that I could do next year to save myself some time and be more efficient. I also totally agree that teaching my students to be organized and responsible for keeping our classroom clean saves me time (and reduces my stress level) as well.

Thanks for posting your comments on the blog!

-Beth

Amy,

It has been fun to communicate with teachers on personal things like our family lives. My comments are usually related to the curriculum and other teaching-centered questions, so it has been so nice to connect with teachers like you on a more personal level.

Thanks for adding your comments to the blog! I hope that some of my ideas help you to strike a healthy balance between school and home so that you can really enjoy your precious time with your son. Even though I wrote this post and offered advice for balancing motherhood and teaching, it is cetainly still a struggle for me too. I am trying to get a little better each year!

Good luck with the rest of your school year, and enjoy your summer at home!

-Beth

Hi Beth!

Congratulations on your new little guy! He is such a cutie and your oldest looks so proud! I am not a mom (yet!), but I still find myself trying to balance my home life and teaching. Finding a balance has been a struggle for me since I started teaching. I, too, was that teacher that chatted with office staff and colleagues during my specials time and also found myself staying late! I love your ideas and even though, I am not a mom, I can still use them to help me find a successful balance. Thanks for all of your great ideas and hard work. I have used many in my classroom throughout the years.

I did have a question regarding your units. Reading the units of study for writing, I am assuming you use Lucy Caulkins. I was just wondering where you get your units for reading. I find myself pulling from so many resources to create my reading units. I love the information you have shared on your website for reading and was wondering if you self-created these units or if you used a specific resources to develop your units. Thanks so much for your time!

Enjoy your time with your boys! :)

Hi Beth,

First of all, congrats on your new addition. Your children are beautiful. My tip for balancing motherhood and teaching is having structured routines. I have each day designated to a specific task. Monday I correct and update my grade book. Tuesdays I begin planning for the next week. Wednesdays I pull all the resources for those plans. Thursdays I have it all copied and prepped. Fridays are reserved for newsletters, updating my website/blog and preparing homework for the following week. I also find it helps to teach the children to maintain an organized classroom so that I'm not cleaning up after school.

I really need to thank you though. I made the switch from 2nd to 3rd grade in 2006 when I returned to the classroom from a yearlong maternity leave with my first son. Your generosity in sharing your resources made it possible for me to take on a new grade level and a new role as a "working mom" with such ease. Thank you for all the work you put into your website and your willingness to share your ideas and printables with others. I added identical twin girls to the family at the start of this school year and you continue to be an inspiration and a true gift for making my job easier. I can honestly say I am a much more effective literacy teacher because of you.

Enjoy getting to know your new little bundle! Take Care, Jodi

Beth,

I am so happy you posted about this! I went back to work this current school year when my little one was just 4 months old. Now, he is almost a year and I find myself still struggling to maintain a healthy balance.

Your tips and advice give me hope in making this all work where my family and students can both benefit. It came just at the right time. I can't wait to try some of your ideas and incoporate them into my rountine!

Thanks so much for your time, thoughts, and ideas you provide through this blog. You are such an inspiration to me and I'm sure many others as well!

Joan K.,

First of all, congrats on baby #4! I'm sure it seems overwhelming right now, but there is nothing better than a big family! I'm sure your older kids will love having a little one at home again!

I really do hope that you can convince your district to let you job share. It is such a wonderful way to balance family life with a teaching career. Finding the right partner was the key factor for me in terms of it really working out well. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

Godd luck with your growing family! You are certainly in for some happy (and very busy) time ahead!

-Beth

Reading your post makes me think about how I need to do this all again! I have 3 kids, my youngest entering full time school next year, and have been able to balance home and school fairly well. NOW, surprise...it's #4! So I need to figure out if I can negotiate part-time in a new state and new district. LIKELY NOT, given the institutional quality of the state I'm in. I miss the good ol' job share days!

Crystal,

The reading and writing workshop units of study that I teach are as follows:

Reading Workshop: 1. Launching Reading Workshop 2. Fiction 3. Mystery Book Clubs 4. Nonfiction 5 Research 6. Poetry 7. Reading Partnerships 8. Author Study Book Clubs 9. Summer Reading Plans

Writing Workshop: 1. Launching Writing Workshop/Narrative Writing 2. Raising the Quality of Narrative Writing 4. Expository Writing 5. Research/Report Writing 6. Poetry 7. Fiction Writing

I hope this helps!

-Beth

Jennifer,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I am loving this time with my two boys and look so forward to watching them grow up together!

I hope your new teaching position is going well!

-Beth

Lisa,

I'm sure you will do a wonderful job balancing motherhood and teaching. Do not let others tell you what to expect, as I have found that some people love to prepare you for the worst. Since you are having your baby in June, you will hopefully be able to spend the first 3 months just enjoying your baby before you must return to teaching in the fall. By the time my first little guy was 3 months old, he was pretty predictable and was on somewhat of a predictable schedule. That made it easier to leave him with my sitter since I could leave fairly specific directions about what she could expect.

In terms of striking a balance between motherhood and teaching next fall, I definitely recommend staying late ONE day a week and always setting aside family days just like you mentioned in your comment. These two things will ease your stress and make you feel like you are giving quality time to both your job and your child.

Most of my colleagues who have kids work full time, and they do a great job striking a balance. It will likely seem overwhelming at first, but once you get settled in and get a good month under your belt, I'm sure you will find that it is very manageable.

Good luck with your upcoming arrival! Your life is about to change in such wonderful and amazing ways!

-Beth

Raye,

It has taken me a while to not feel guilty about saying "no," so I know what you mean about trying not to worry about others being upset. I still feel bad at times when I have to turn down requests or other opportunities, but my family is so important. I do feel lucky that I am able to be home on some days because of my shared-time schedule. It has really worked out so well for me!

Thanks for your comments, and enjoy those 3 girls of yours. I'm sure you are looking forward to the summer!

-Beth

Jen, Working late one day a week is definitely a great way to feel productive but also feel like you can get right home to your child on most other days of the week.

Good luck planning your units, and enjoy your precious time with your little one!

-Beth

Laurie,

It's fun to hear from a mom of 3 boys! I am nearly on my way to your status with my two little guys. I still hope to have a third child in the next few years.

I completely understand your feeling of being pulled in a million different directions, and I'm sure it only gets busier as your kids get older and are involved in more activities! Saying no is definitely becoming more important in my life, but it isn't becoming any easier! I have been so used to being on every committee that I often feel like I am neglecting my staff, my district, or even readers of my blog when I turn down requests or other invitations for school-related opportunities. I always remember that family comes first these days!

It must be nice to have your 3 boys at the same school where you teach! Thanks for reading my blog and posting your thoughtful comments!

-Beth

Hi Beth,

Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

I am a loyal reader of your blog. I love all your ideas and resources! Since I found your website (about a year ago) I have changed many of my teaching philosophies. The way I teach reading and writing is very different now. I am using the workshop approach. I reorganized my library into genre baskets too. It is going really well and I see a big different in the motivation my students have for reading and writing.

I was really glad to see your post this week. I have been spending a lot of time at school this year trying to better my classroom and my teaching. I need to also remember to make a good balance between school and home life.

There was one question I did have for you. You mentioned preparing units ahead of time. Do you have a specific list of reading and writing units that you teach? I am trying to develop a rough draft to save time and would love some insight.

Thank you again for all the dedication and time you put into helping other teachers. Speaking as one teacher, I truly appreciate it!!!

Beth,

I came across your website this summer, and it was so tremendously helpful as I planned and prepared for a new teaching position. I have used it several times since then and was glad to see on on Scholastic. Just wanted to congratulate you on your new son! How exciting!! I'm so happy for you.

Jennifer

Thank you for sharing these ideas Beth! I too have been following your websites and blog for a few years now and love to sponge ideas from you:) I was just recently hired for a 4th grade position for next fall and I'm expecting my first child in June. It seems that as soon as I announced my new job, I have been overwhelmed by family and friends who are telling me how hard it is going to be to balance school and my new family. They are making me question my abilities as a teacher and as a mother. It is scary because I've been a teacher before, but never a mother:) So I don't know what stresses to expect. I am going to try the "stay late Monday" and the "Family only Saturday" ideas. Thank you for sharing tips for creating a balanced life! You make it sound possible to enjoy both school and home.

Congratulations on the arrival of your new little boy! I am a mom of 3 girls and sometimes find that I take on too much at work too. I have learned this year that it is okay to say No and that even if others are upset about it at first, I have to put myself and my family first so I can be the best I can be at both jobs!

Hi Beth, I've been following your blogs and websites for a few years now and they have been so useful to me. I also have a two year old and work full time (second grade). I find that working late one day a week has helped me greatly. Thanks for the tip about planning units instead of lessons. I think this is a great idea and makes so much sense. I know you will enjoy this time with your little ones until you go back to work. Hey, summer is right around the corner!

Wow! You are my hero, Beth! I am a working mother of 3 boys and you have been such an inspiration to me - I have used many of your ideas and have had so much fun implementing them in my classroom. I struggle with feelings of being torn in a million directions all the time. I am fortunate that my youngest is four now and all three of my boys attend the school where I teach - it is a daily effort, though, to learn to say no! Thanks for your thoughts on this!

Stacy,

I love how you make sure that you "schedule your priorities" as opposed to "prioritizing your schedule." Having kids definitely helped me put things in perspective and realize what is truly important and worth my valuable time. I also keep in mind that I can never get back these years of watching my boys grow up. I already feel like my 2 year old is growing up way too fast, and I don't want to miss any more time with him than I have to. Reevaluating my priorities has been such an important task for me!

Thanks for posting your comments. I hope you are adjusting well to being back at work after your maternity leave. I am already anxious about leaving my little guys to return to my classroom at the end of May. Luckily the summer break comes soon after my return!

-Beth

I was so happy to read this post. I just started back to work two weeks ago after my maternity leave. Leaving my son is the hardest thing I've ever done, but like you my passion for teaching is to great to leave. I have found that by scheduling my priorities instead of prioritizing my schedule has helped to maximize the time I spend on important things, like lesson planning and playing with my son. I keep these times sacred ad schedule other less meaningful things around them.

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