I’ve stayed home sick for two days, and as any teacher will tell you, most of the time that’s harder than just going to work. Teachers don’t stay home unless they really need it.
This morning I went in to work early to get everything ready for the sub, and I left feeling like everything was ready, but embarassed by the state of my classroom. Even more than embarassment, I felt stress over everything I need to do in the next three days, instead of in five this week. Having a messy, disorganized, cluttered space makes me feel stressed about everything I need to do about those messes.
Then comes the blaming. It’s my district’s fault, because I’m not free to come in over the weekend to get caught up on things. It’s the system’s fault, because teachers are asked to do too much. Or it might even be the kids’ fault, because they are disorganized and can’t keep their stuff where it belongs.
It may surprise you to find out that none of those things get the mess cleaned up.
I recently told you about all the guilt I feel for things that don’t get done. I sometimes feel like other people have a good excuse to leave at 4:00 or 4:30 and not look back, because they have kids at home. In fact, I don’t feel guilty leaving it all behind when I have plans. On Friday, I left at 4:30 because I was meeting a friend to borrow his tent for camping, and I left many things undone without guilt. (Which bit me in the ass a little this week, since I wasn’t ready to have a sub, but I wouldn’t have done anything different in the situation as I knew it on Friday!) If I have a rehearsal, or class, or even if I have a social event, I don’t feel bad leaving. It’s when I come home and have a free night that the guilt sets in. I’m just cooking dinner, watching t.v., reading a book, whatever. I feel like I should be working.
Today I was reading an email from FlyLady. (www.flylady.net –I receive the emails, sometimes good motivation to get stuff done and take care of ourselves!) The email was from a nurse, and she talked about how she goes “off duty” when she leaves the hospital. Her patients continue to have needs, but she has passed the responsibility for those needs to the next nurse on duty. Same thing at home, if she delegates a chore to her husband or kids, she doesn’t address it again until she is “on duty” as the Mom.
My job is different from hers because I am not responsible for a certain quantity of time, but a certain set of tasks. No one is coming to relieve me at 4:00, to continue working on the tasks that need to be done. What I leave undone will still be undone the next day. Learning to find balance in how much I work and how much I spend quiet nights at home is a separate issue. But when I am at home, I am off duty. If I chose to leave work, for whatever reason, I am not responsible for what is in my classroom.
As far as finding the balance of working and not working…I’ve had this idea for some time now that one day a week I will stay late, bring a good snack for after work, and catch up on all those things that need done. Maybe I’ll try that.