Earlier this week, my principal said, “February is just the dog days in the field of education. February is just the pits. February is when it feels really hard.”
January is okay. You’re coming off a nice break, you maybe have some snow days.
March is okay. The weather shows signs of life after all, kids get to go outside again, therefore they can sit still and focus for more than 30 seconds without you standing right next to them. You feel like maybe you can accomplish something by the end of May after all.
February just stinks.
Which is why my February habit was perfect! I didn’t run away every day as soon as the kids went home. I stayed, I did my work, I accomplished things. I rediscovered (again…and again…and this won’t be the last time!) how awesome it feels to be prepared, to not procrastinate, how I am a better teacher when I treat myself to a neatly stacked pile of prepared materials and lesson plans on my desk. (And a morning that doesn’t involve trying to be at work at 7:00 a.m. to try and get that pile ready!)
I even began to make my peace with the reality that sometimes, I need to bring work home with me. Sometimes, the other things I want to do during the week make it so that being at school for 10+ hours in a row just isn’t possible. And even though I love the evenings when I can walk out the door at 6:00 with just my purse and my empty coffee mug, the evenings when I walk out at 4:15 with a bag full of stuff can turn out okay, too.
(Really…I know I’m a mess when it comes to time management…and I also know I’m not the only one!)
I was pondering what habit to focus on for March, and I really couldn’t think of one. The 1st grade scene feels…manageable. Big, full, messy, colorful, and perpetually changing…but I feel like I can handle it. (In fact, those words make it sound really fun!) I am not overwhelmed and drowning in my job…even though it is February. My usual attitude these days is: “This is quite a challenge…and I like that it’s hard!” I am reminding myself of something: The cycle of work and play for a teacher is a year long. I work now, and I play in June and July. That’s not to say there aren’t moments of rest and play, but big-picture-wise, I can handle really busy weeks and months now, because the respite is coming.
So, perhaps it’s time to focus on a habit outside of the classroom. One thing that has fallen almost completely off my weekly radar is…(mock suspense here)…exercise. Or to be more specific, enough exercise. I go to yoga about once a week, and when the weather allows, I walk all over creation with my dog a couple times a week. Both of which are fantastic, but I need more. I need to run. (Before you suggest it…the dog doesn’t run. He’s 13 pounds. Or to be more specific, he runs for a block or two and then I’m practically dragging the poor thing by his leash for the remainder of the run!)
Ideally, I would like to run three times a week, on top of my yoga habit. So for March, I will focus on a habit that has been suggested by many fitness magazine writers forever: I’m going to schedule my runs each week. Life is busy, and every week looks a little different. During the month of March I will take a few minutes on Monday night — Mondays are yoga days, no running for me anyway — and plan three times in the next six days to run, and also where (gym or outside) based on the weather. I will even record them in my calendar. Recording workout times in a calendar has always sounded crazy to me, a little more fanatical than I want to be about exercise, but I’m going to try it anyway. 🙂