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3 Things at Home I'm Reevaluating this Back to School Season

Aug 24, 2021

Welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher Podcast, I’m so excited you are joining us today and want to remind you that if you’re loving the podcast and all that we offer here on this platform, it would help us out a ton if you could rate and review the podcast.  It’s really easy to do right on the podcast app where you’re listening from, will take just a few seconds, and will ultimately help us reach more teachers with our message of sustainability.

Ok, let’s talk about today’s episode shall we.

Today I am sharing with you three things that I am reevaluating during this back to school season.  We teachers are lucky in that we really have two times throughout the year where we get a fresh start.  At the new year that is the calendar year, and at the new year that is the school year.

And so I am taking this opportunity to make sure that all systems are a go, and that there’s not anything that’s dragging us down as we each are working towards a thriving and fulfilling life.

We’re going to talk about my attempt at going paperless at home, how I’m using the big D word, that is Delegation, and a mantra I’ll be using this year as it is clear that I’m taking on a bit more than usual in this season, so I’m wanting to be aware of that and completely prepared. 

Also stay tuned until the end, because I give a bonus tip.

By the end of this episode you will have a clear understanding of three things you could be considering or implementing in your own life in order to continue striving for sustainability in your teacher- and home-life, because this is an incredibly stressful time of year, but it’s also one that allows us to determine how we want our year to go, so let’s take the bull by the horns and make it our most sustainable year yet.

Let’s get right into it here with these three things I’m reevaluating, and first up is reducing the paper at home.

Reducing the Paper at Home

Let’s talk about why I would want to do this.  My oldest is in second grade - so he has been going to school all that long, right?!?  Well, it has been long enough for me to know the absolute avalanche of papers that come home from school, and from other activities and such.  It’s incredibly overwhelming.  So much so that I end up just throwing stuff away, and on occasion have missed out on opportunities because of it.

Not to mention the insane clutter paper causes.  Paper is nothing, it’s small and thin, and yet it piles up quickly causing clutter in every nook and cranny of my kitchen, office, and hallway.  That’s certainly not healthy or calming.

So here’s what I’m doing about it.

Our family uses Google Calendar to keep track of all appointments, commitments, meetings, etc.  It’s one that my husband and I share, and eventually will share with our kiddos when they’re old enough.  It’s free, it’s color coded, it’s sharable, meeting all of my requirements.  

But I hadn’t truly been using it to its full potential.  So this year, I have a plan.  As soon as a paper comes into our home, I’m going to read it and address it right then and there, then recycle it with glee.  But what does that have to do with our calendar?  Welp, every paper is about some sort of opportunity or commitment, right?  So I’ll be opening up our calendar and logging all necessary details.

For instance, the PTO sent home an order form for this year’s spirit wear.  I open up our calendar, and put “Order Spirit Wear” on the calendar on the day and time that I will be able to accomplish that task, which is ahead of the due date.  Then in the description I include the link to order from, the final deadline to order, and any notes about what we might want to order.  Bam - recycle that paper without missing out on the opportunity.

While on this topic, I want to share that I’ve also purchased an ipad and apple pencil, and am learning all kinds of new ways to optimize those tools in reducing paper in my life in general.  Maybe that will be a future episode or blog post over on teachonamission.com.

Next up is Delegation.

Delegating Tasks

I am an incredibly independent person.  And, sure that’s something to be proud of from most perspectives, it also can quickly overpower my life if I’m not delegating and asking for help.

In this part of my life that I’m reevaluating and will offer up some tips for you, I want to mention that I’m trying to get creative in my delegation, but I’m also trying to empower those around me, namely my kids.

Also, before I get to the tips and recommendations - this isn’t rocket science.  Maybe this is my  daily dose of downplaying my influence on this podcast, but as I’m saying these things please remember that their simplicity is also their beauty and effectiveness.  Here goes.

I’m delegating to my kids.  And here’s how I’m doing that.

I am trying to NEVER AGAIN say the words, “Can you please help me by unloading the dishwasher?”

I’m sorry, what? Help me, as if it’s my job to make sure the dishes are clean and in their places, or that I’m the only one who uses dishes?

No, no, no.  They aren’t helping me.  We are working as a team, and this is the mindset that I need to take on more-so than it is a conversation I need to have with my  kids.  

What I mean is that I don’t need to sit my kids down and say, “Mommy isn’t the only one who uses dishes.  We all live here. You should help.”  NO, I just need to believe it myself, and then act from that place.

So, no more saying help me, instead it’s do this.

The tasks I’m delegating to my 8 and 6 year olds include loading and emptying the dishwasher, putting away their laundry, brining their laundry to the laundry room on laundry day, collecting and taking out the trash, and quick tidying up around the house - folding blankets, straightening rooms, fluffing pillows, etc.

Here’s something I’ve been saying to my kids recently and it’s worked like WD40 on a squeaky hinge… “If Mommy has to do this on her own, then we won’t get to do XYZ.”  And XYZ needs to be something they really want Mommy for.  And don’t be afraid to be brutally honest with it.  Because it’s the truth.  If you have to do everything, then you’re flustered and can’t enjoy the bedtime book or putting a puzzle together.  So let’s make it happen.

Ok, here’s the last tip, and it is inspired by a former principal of mine.

It’s only chaos if you call it chaos

I love this quote but let me explain a bit.

More so than in the past five years or so, I am taking on quite a bit more to my  plate than usual.  I’m very aware of this and even a bit nervous about it.  So here is my advice to both you and myself.

In seasons where you are taking on quite a bit more than usual, and you’re nervous about it (because that’s life, how full our plates are will ebb and flow), take a moment to gauge how it is you’re feeling.  Whether that’s in the evening before bed, or in the heat of a stressful afternoon. Stop and take pulse of how you’re feelings and get real clear of where you’re acting from.  Then do what’s necessary  to address any gaps, needs, or return to some semblance of balance.

And remember, it’s only  chaos if you call it chaos.

Now I’ve got a bonus tip for you!!!

How Does a Sustainable Teacher Show Up?

What if at the end of this year, you look back on the experience and you can absolutely, without a doubt describe it as a sustainable one?  How cool would that be right?  And how rare for a teacher to describe their year that way.

But here’s what I want to challenge you with today.  If sustainable is how you want to look back on this year and describe it, then what does your start to the school year need to look like right now?  The bigger question is, then who do you need to show up as in order for it to be sustainable?

Your answer to this question is unique to you.  Maybe it means you need to get up 30 minutes earlier.  If you’re like me, it means you  need to set the bedtime feature on your phone and make sure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep each night.

Maybe it’s that you need to streamline your list of commitments and start saying no to things.  Whatever it is, get clear on what that looks like, and show up everyday.  Not as someone who hustles to death.  Not as someone who sacrifices their evenings and weekends for the new fandangular lesson you want to create.  Nope, show up as someone who prioritizes their sleep, nutrition, and overall health.  Show up as someone who prioritizes your students and your personal relationships.  Get real clear on what that looks and feels like, and make it happen.

There you have it teacher-friend.  I hope this has been a quick and actionable episode for you, and I'lll see you same time next week.

Bye for now.

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