Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Day of School Excitement, and How To Survive When the Excitement Settles!

I'm on my way to my first day of school for the 26th time (counting being a student and a teacher)! I have to say, I'm not sure it's much different for either.  Whether you're a teacher or a student, the first day of school is filled with excitement, chaos, and a bit of anxiety.  There are new supplies, a promise of organization, hope in the air, and a rush of endorphins as you tackle that first day.

There's also a sense of sadness for the summer that must end.  For me, each summer as a teacher has gotten better and better. I've become more financially stable, and been able to work less and less each summer.  This summer I was able to do something other than teaching/tutoring, and coached soccer.  It was a great change of a pace, and I really enjoyed it.

Coaches from this summer

There was also many days spent on the beach, weekend trips with M, long walks with Stella, ventures with friends, and days spent doing exactly what I wanted (even if that meant sitting on the couch in the air conditioning watching Bravo marathons).  It really was glorious!

And just like that, it's OVER! After 3 days of professional development without the students, I'm actually more than ready for their arrival.  This will be my 9th year teaching 5th grade, and my 2nd year at my current school.  In true "First Day of School Eve" form, I could not sleep last night...thus, I'm up at 3:30 a.m. typing this post! Even though the excitement of the first day(s) will power me through today, and hopefully the week, I have some tricks and tips that help me get through the busy year.  Here they are in no particular order:

Tips For Getting Through Busy Work Weeks:

I know this seems silly, but for me, knowing I have a rest day planned not only makes that day easier, but it motivates me through the workout the day before (since I know I'll have a break the next day), and also the day after (because I know I didn't exercise the day before).  My favorite rest days are Mondays (they're hard enough already!), and Thursdays (it sets me up for a weekend of great workouts).  

This is a trick I got from my mom.  She actually makes 2-3 main dishes on Sunday, and then uses them for dinners throughout the week.  Knowing that dinners are simply heat and eat makes it feel so much easier Monday through Friday.  In the summer, we'll grill a few things like steak, chicken, sausages, and then add onto them to make meals that are super easy.  In the winter, the crock pot and baked dishes make an appearance. Lasagna, enchiladas, pulled pork, and baked chicken casseroles are favorites.  These are also easy to freeze portions of, so in a pinch a hot meal is just a 6 minute trip in the microwave away! 

During the week, a big headache is trying to hit the grocery store after work.  Even if it's just for yogurt and eggs, bustling through the store at 5 p.m. is utter chaos. I try to take a look in the fridge and get everything we're low on either Saturday or Sunday.  Weekends that look particularly busy are good candidates for Peapod (or whatever your local grocery store offers as delivery service).  It's about $6.00 to have groceries delivered, but there are often promotions that offer it free when you spend a certain amount.  I also have to say that when I order my groceries, I'm able to bargain shop more and make smarter decisions because comparing costs is just a click away.

Getting our home in order before a busy week always makes it feel a little more manageable.  If I can find my shoes, bag, glasses without a 5 minute scavenger hunt, it opens up more time for important things....like snuggling Stella! Clearing off our kitchen table (it tends to be our dumping spot for papers, bills, odds and ends) and putting a fresh vase of flowers also makes me happy throughout the week.

I know this is probably easier for someone without children (like me), so I'm speaking from the perspective of a non-mom/dad, but carving out a little time for myself each day after work helps me get through a jam-packed day.  Reading in bed for an hour, or watching guilty-pleasure T.V. (like Real Housewives of whatever county...) are two of my favorites.  At 2:00, when students are tired, and I have a headache from talking all day, I think about this time that is in my future and it powers me through.

- SET A TIME FOR TALKING ABOUT THE UPCOMING WEEK (i.e. complaining on Sunday night!)
I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am someone who always has trouble living in the now.  I'm always thinking ahead and planning/worrying/scheduling.  M actually came up with the idea, and said we can't talk about the upcoming work week (obviously we do if there's something we feel we really want to talk about, but we try to avoid it), until 6 p.m. on Sunday.  This actually works for me, and I don't find myself stressing until, ohhhhh....about 6:05 p.m., but hey, it's better than waking up on Sunday and perseverating over the impending week.

So there you go! A few tips and tricks that I employ to make the work week go a bit smoother around here.  

Do you have any tips that make the work week smoother for you? 

Any teachers out there? Where and what grades/positions?

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