Saturday, September 27, 2014


This post is part of the 30-Day Blog Challenge from TeachThought. To learn more about the challenge go to

DAY 27: What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

Let me lay it all out on the table tonight: I feel guilty for the amount of time I spend working on school-related responsibilities while I'm at home with my family.

My official work day starts at 7:40 and ends at 3:40, but I usually get home at 5:00 or later. I always make it home by 5:30 for supper, unless I have a meeting or an extracurricular commitment. Later at night, I usually spend at least an hour or two finishing up more work for school, varying from evaluating student work to adjusting a lesson that was prepared to searching for an answer to someone's technology question.

The weekend hours are quickly consumed with assessing student work, planning for the upcoming week, and writing my weekly parent update. Every other weekend, I also write and distribute a district technology newsletter.

I have colleagues who have drawn a line in the sand and declared that they won't do any school work at home, or they'll always keep the weekends work-free. I don't know how they do it. I don't feel like there are enough hours in the day to finish everything I'd like to get done now, much less completely blocking out two entire days. But at the same time, I have this tremendous guilt. I should be playing more games with my sons. We should be going outside more often. I should be doing science experiments with my sons. My kids have been asking me for months to teach them how to write in cursive. My husband and I haven't gone out to a movie in months. It pains me to even type all of this out.

I've been teaching for 10 years, and I still haven't figured out how to balance my home life with this crazy-demanding job. Being a teacher is a part of who I am, and it's difficult for me to be "less" of who I am by simply devoting less time to it. At the same time, being a mom and a wife are also part of who I am, and I feel I am "less" of myself when I let the my teacher-side take the reins for too long.

How do we do this? How do we devote ourselves to the people we love and maintain our passion for our chosen profession at the same time? The stress of this constant internal debate wears on me.

Today was a Saturday. I knew that I wanted to accomplish five things:

  • Spend time with our First LEGO League Team during their weekly meeting. Both of my sons are on the team and my husband and I are coaches.
  • Work out at the fitness center.
  • Play a new game with my family (they've been waiting for me to have time to do this all week.)
  • Practice guitar with my sons.
  • Read some chapters from my new book.
As I thought through my day this morning and realized everything I'd like to do, I said to myself, "Okay, it will be fine to leave the school work until Sunday. I should be able to get everything done if I have the entire day tomorrow to work." Things were going great until I realized this afternoon that we do have another commitment tomorrow afternoon. Immediately, my brain went into panic-mode. How was I going to be able to get all of my work done now? Would I have to sacrifice one of the the activities I wanted to do today so that I could get started on my school work early? It's like this constant, nagging tap on my shoulder, never completely letting me be "in the moment" because I'm anxious about all the work I know I still need to get done. So, you see, even when I do make a conscious decision to set aside my work for a period of time, the knowledge that it's waiting to be done is still clinging to me, affecting everything I do.

Sometimes my head clears enough to recall that many people in other professions don't have this incessant conflict in their minds. When they leave work, work is done. They don't have to think about it again until they're physically back at their job. What a luxury this would be.

How can I be the teacher I want to be, but not short-change my family the attention they deserve when I'm at home? How do I take back my weekends for myself, my husband, and my kids - or is this just the way it is for all educators? If any of you have any suggestions, I'd truly appreciate hearing from you.

Photo from Bing Images ( Labeled as "Free to share and use."


  1. I have no solutions, just commiseration. So far I am able to balance work and home life, as it's just me and hubby, so I don't feel so guilty about spending 4 or so hours on the weekend working. But I am pregnant for the first time, and I am terrified about what it will be like to balance it all once she arrives and I go back to work. I wouldn't want to quit my job if I could--at least, I wouldn't as I sit here before the kiddo arrives--but I imagine I will be greedy for time with her when she gets here.

    Thanks for the honest post.

    1. A lot of comments I'm receiving are "commiserative" in nature. I think this is an issue that haunts many educators. Maybe it's a positive sign that it's something that disturbs us; a step in the right direction anyway. Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your first child! And yes, time will take on a whole new type of urgency once she comes into your life.

  2. You might try David Allen's _Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity._ Confession: I haven't finished it myself. He does have two really good wonderful points in the opening chapter(s?), that make me think it's worth finishing:

    1) We want our mind to be like water (martial arts analogy), with which we are always living in the moment and, like water, able to respond to disruption and disturbances like water. Think of a rock, it falls in the water, the water waves in equally response, not more, not less.

    2) Our brains are built for recognizing complicated patterns and problem solving, but NOT for storage. When we have too much "stored" in our brains, it's like filling up the RAM on a computer; we get slower and slower and maybe even "crash," because our brain is reminding us of things we need to do at time when we can do nothing about them. Counterproductive to the " Mind like Water" Analogy.

    Other than that, it sounds like you're doing a ton! And you forgot to mention you wrote a blog post that same day!

  3. "Living in the moment." This is something I have recognized as a personal challenge for a long time. I agree that if I could master this philosophy it would make the limited time I have with family that much sweeter. I'm working on it!