Let me start off by saying I am blessed to be employed. I am in my twelfth year of teaching and have grown so much on this journey. I have no doubt that God placed me in every circumstance that I've encountered at my job to prepare me for something greater; however, I also know (now) that although growth has occurred, my job is not and will not come before my family.
I started teaching at just 22 years old. I began as a teaching assistant and then was able to land head teaching positions in first, third and now fourth grade at the same institution. I worked like a dog and I felt that I could because I wasn't married, had no kids, and literally lived across the street from my job. No excuses, right? But even as my life created life and then another life, I. DID. NOT. STOP. Work was still number one. If someone asked me to take on a project I said yes. I would work until 5, even though I knew I would be cutting it close to daycare pick up time, on something that could wait until tomorrow. I had to drop my son off at 7:15 to get to work on time, my daughter is currently being dropped off at 7:00 o'clock in the stink'n morning. IT IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST!. However, it wasn't until this year that I said to myself, "screw this!" I have no choice when I need to leave in the morning. I need to be work at 7:45 and we live 35 mins away, so leaving at 6:50 is what it is, but I do get to choose when I say, "So long" and "Farewell" to my classroom.
So before the school year began I made a promise to myself, my kids, and my husband that I would leave work earlier. I am choosing to leave work at a reasonable time so I can spend longer than an hour with my kids. I am leaving work before it gets dark so my son can just chill in the car and relax his mind on the car ride home, knowing he is going to get to play outside or create a rocket ship out of that cardboard box we have lying around. I am leaving work before I grade EVERY SINGLE PAPER or put the desks into new clusters because I can do that tomorrow. I am leaving before 5 so I can talk to my kids in the car, ask my son how his day went, and ask my daughter to sing the "Apple Song" without being overcome with anxiety because I only have 45 mins to feed them, bath them, read them a story, then put them to bed. And guess what?!? This does not make me a bad teacher. This does not make me a bad employee. Actually, it makes me the opposite. As a result of me spending more time with my kids and (trying) not to rush home like a crazy person for DINNER. BATH. BED. REPEAT. I am finding that I am becoming a better person, therefore a better mom for my children and a better wife for my husband. I am calmer at work resulting in more patience with my own kids at home. Well, to be honest this is still a work in progress, but I definitely am seeing a change; however small it may be. This switch may not work for you (right now) and I get that, but I've realized that it is important to me that I am less stressed, more patient, and available for snuggles on a daily basis. Family over everything. Period.