Hidden in the bathroom, you try to steal five minutes to take a moment to breathe and scroll through mindless social media when that teacher tired meme pops up mocking you. Teacher tired? Sure, but teacher-mom tired is more like it. The loss of two hours sleep from 2:32-4:38 am is more likely the culprit of my tired. A tiny knock with a powerful scream of “MaaaaMaaaa,” interrupts your thoughts on how tired you truly happen to be in this moment of rest.
Most nights I find myself wide awake at 11:00 pm, even if I had been nodding off a few hours ago while reading bedtime stories, I’m often up late at night. The quiet is what keeps me awake. No one is talking to me, my phone is not buzzing in emails or messages, there are no tiny fingers grasping my shirt; it’s the only time of day I have all to myself. After having two babies back to back my body has become used to the sleep deprivation and because the pregnancy or new mom fog has lifted I actually find myself thinking more clearly this late at night. This seems an oxymoron considering a good decision would be to go to sleep, but I love the quiet and I love to read. I suspect many of you consciously choose to forgo sleep to allow yourself to do something that feels far more satisfying than sleep in the moment. At least in the moment it feels much more satisfying. You forget about how tired you were all day and choose to do something for yourself. In this moment you choose yourself, because the roles you’ve played all day have been put to bed.
Have you ever made a list of all the roles you play in a day? I start the day (after midnight) as a mom, then I kiss my husband goodbye as a wife, I turn the lights on in my classroom as a teacher, I allow a co-worker to lean on my shoulder as a friend at lunch, I answer texts or emails from my parents and siblings and in-laws throughout the day, before heading home I pick up groceries to make a meal for a church member in need and then the cycle starts all over again the moment my kids and husband hug me as I walk through the front door. That’s a lot of roles to play within a 24 hour period. That’s a lot of people who count on us to play these roles each day. This is where we can allow for guilt to set in and cloud our judgement.
May I suggest we all choose to let the guilt go? It’s hard to feel like you’re being a good mom when you have to grade papers instead of playing cars on the floor with your toddler. It’s also hard to feel like you’re being a good teacher when you can’t stay after school to provide a struggling student with extra help because you have to pick up your kids from the babysitter. As a full-time teaching mom this is always going to be the case. You are always going to want more time with your babies and more time to help your students. It comes down to choices. Choose and feel good about your choice. Either way you are choosing your kids, making it a good choice.
My network of Instagram teachers have started a #stopteacherguilt campaign. We all need to take care of ourselves or we will not be able to be our best for our husband, our kids, our students, and our families. We’ve all heard the advice to take time for self-care, but do we allow guilt to rob us of a truly relaxing moment? Let it go! You spend enough time thinking about you can enrich other people’s lives, don’t feel badly when you take time to enrich your own life. Whether it’s a weekly yoga class, a quiet moment of scrolling through social media or enjoying a new flavor of ice cream if it’s what you need to relax your mind and body then soak it up and don’t feel bad about it. You need to be your number one priority. Share your favorite ways to relax and indulge, then share a photo on Instagram with #stopteachermomguilt.