I cleaned out my classrooms over the weekend. I loaded up 10 bins with Art books, ceramic pieces, plaster molds, and artwork. Twelve years of teaching, and I still cart around artwork gifted to me from students I had in my first year. Ah... Memories.
It felt strange to load my car up with all my belongings and to say goodbye to a school which I had barely met. I started teaching there the Fall of 2019 and in March of 2020 we were sent to teach remotely for the remainder of the year. Covid Happens. The Summer flew by and the return to school for the 2020-21 school year brought a challenging decision...To teach in person? Or not in person? With a tiny human growing in my belly, and the constant news feed of the growing Pandemic... My priorities became apparent.
I asked the school if I could work from home along with quite a few other teachers who felt the same way. Working at a Private School can be different though, because you have families paying a large amount of money for their child’s education... the school can only run when those families are happy. My school was going to push for in-person teaching and the hesitant teachers were only offered 12 weeks of FMLA through the CARES act which would provide them 2/3 of their usual pay or no pay at all.
My situation was slightly different because of my pregnancy, but long story short, I was asked to take leave or work in in person. With my baby due in Nov-Dec I wasn’t going to return before my Maternity Leave. I told myself I would figure it out later... and just focus on the kids at home.
As many parents have learned with Covid Stay at Home orders, being home with your children 24/7 is exhausting! It took a while to sink into a routine... or to pull myself into a better routine...but ultimately I learned a few important things.
1: Listen to the people who tell you that “The Days are Long but the Years are Short.” Though it may be difficult to enjoy every moment with your kids as you all develop cabin fever inside your four walls, try to create moments that will be joyous and memorable for you and your kiddos. When I say “try,” I know that there will be some days that it will just be too damn hard! But when you have a breath of fresh air and a smile on your face, do something with your kids that show them you want to be with them and that you enjoy their company. In my case, we spend a lot of time doing arts and crafts, playing outside, playing salon or doing nails, painting faces, building forts. These are memories I hope my daughters will think back on when the subject of Covid-19 comes up years from now.... instead of memories of mommy napping and having morning sickness for weeks!
2: A schedule is SO important! I would think about elementary/ pre school teachers and their set schedule that usually started with circle time and then broke down into subject matters and play/ snack times. As far as I am concerned, other Moms who can create a schedule and stick to it, you are superhero’s! Me, on the other hand... I have such a hard time sticking to a schedule! Maybe it’s the spontaneous artsy side of me, or just my lack of will power. I apologize to my children now for not being the Mom who modeled appropriate organization skills... but hey... I do my best and I am sure you do too! My advice... Write down a schedule and let you kids help. The can draw little pictures of activities they’d like to do each day. Then maybe at 10 am everyday you do the fun thing that the kids chose.
3: Stop feeling guilty Momma! I know how I can be my worst enemy and that a lot of the lectures and emotions that flow through my subconscious are not something I would ever say to another woman - ever. Life is so difficult when you don’t like yourself... when you just push yourself and expect so much of yourself... it just results in feelings of shame and failure. Momma! We ain’t got any time for that! Easier said than done, I know... but if you can try to remind yourself everyday that you are a Boss Momma and a strong woman with an inspirational presence on your children... you will start to believe it. Me, I look in the mirror and I remember that I am here to experience all these crazy moments with my kiddos... and that my sister is no longer here to be a part of it. My children will never get to meet their Auntie Sarah....which is so unfair. Who am I to complain and dwell in self-pity when I should be thankful for the health and presence of my family and myself..
Lastly, Coffee is wonderful but sleep is so important. So try to get some rest. Nap if you can! I refuse to feel guilty about napping while my two kiddos play games on their tablets on my bed. It’s important to be real with your kids. My girls could see that their baby brother was keeping Mommy awake and I was able to have a conversation with them about Mommy needing to take a break. Work that break into your schedule if you need the rest. I use screen time to my advantage in those cases. Don’t judge!
Ultimately, I had to resign. I had to leave my teaching position and I may not return to a teaching job for the foreseeable future. I’m working on being a Work-from-home Artist and Mother - and Podcasting Momma of Mayhem! My art will sustain us through commissions and such, so prepare yourself for my constant posts and promotions... and consider checking out my website for ideas of artworks you may want. Want a painting for Mother’s Day? Coloring pages for a birthday party? I gotcha!
Lots of Love!
Alli (The Momma of Mayhem)