I’m falling back into an unfortunate cycle in which I spend all of the work week waiting desperately for the weekend and then I spend most of the weekend dreading the coming work week. This weekly cycle is set against the backdrop of a constant counting down until the next big break from work. It’s no way to live.
I recognized myself doing this a long time ago and managed to stop it. For a while it wasn’t really an issue, as the weekends were just as exhausting as the work week. But now that the kids no longer need constant attention, and I can carve out some time for myself on the weekends, it has started again.
I want to put the kibosh on this now. I know how unhappy this thinking makes me. I know this is partly because I’m unhappy at work and partly because life is easier at home. I have a lot of it figured out, I just need to be proactive, oh and change my thought processes.
It should be a three-pronged approach: 1. make the time at work less tiresome (and really revel in the good during the work day), 2. do some of what I enjoy about the weekends during the week, and 3. practice mindfulness–staying in the present.
Some thoughts and action items:
1. So what it is about being at work that really stresses me out?
A. I always feel behind; I am never planned enough and I’m always panicked that my online grades aren’t up-to-date.
B. I’m not sure what we’re doing in first period until we talk about it that morning (while the kids are listening to the announcements)
C. I don’t like teaching the same thing six times in a row over two days.
D. I’m very isolated; I don’t see another adult after first period most days until my husband comes home.
Some possible solutions:
A. I already told my husband that I need to take a full weekend day at work twice a month. It may seem counter intuitive that spending time at work on a weekend would ease my negative feelings about work, but if I’m caught up on grades and feel well prepared, I won’t dread work as much.
B. I’m going to tell my co-teacher that I can’t keep teaching like this and suggest that we either take turns planning ahead, or split the class and she teachers the 7th graders while I teach the 8th graders, or I just do all the planning and let her know ahead of time what we’re doing. Maybe we can try a few different things in the next few months and see what works best.
C. I’m toying with the idea of breaking up how I teach my 6th graders so that I’m not teaching the same thing two days in a row. This might be hard to manage because it’s not like you can always change the order that you present lessons, but if I had to get through Lesson X and Lesson Y in a week, maybe sometimes I could teach Lesson X on Monday (A day kids) and Friday (B day kids) and Lesson Y on Tuesday (B day kids) and Thursday (A day kids). The other nice thing about that is that right now the A day kids always get me on the first day, which means I haven’t necessarily worked out all the kinks, and the B day kids always get me on the second day, when my interest and enthusiasm are waning. Switching when they get the lesson would expose them more fairly to the negatives of each particular day. Even if I only do this on some weeks, I’m sure it would help.
D. I was going to ask a friend at work if we could have a standing lunch date in her or my room during the week.
2. So what is it about the weekends that I so look forward to (besides not having to go to work)?
E. Watching something fun on TV and/or feeling like I can sit down and rest in the evenings, after the kids go to bed.
F. Enjoying a cocktail.
G. Being able to sleep in (a little).
H. Doing something fun with the kids.
I. Having the opportunity to get things done and get caught up around the house.
So how can I incorporate some of these things I like about the weekend into the work week?
E. I have already scheduled a night with my husband to watch something fun and just hang out. I can also schedule a night for myself to watch something. Or start asking to workout during bedtime once a week, which I would love because bedtime is stressful and drags on forever. Maybe I’ll just ask for one night a week and either go out with a friend, workout, even take some work to a cafe to get out of the house.
F. I don’t need to drink a cocktail every night. I will look into other ways to de-stress.
G. I can’t sleep in on week days but I can go to sleep early a couple of days a week. I think this would help a lot.
H. It’s hard right now with the limited sunlight, but once the days get longer I can plan on picking my kids up early 1-2 times a week and going to a playground or doing something else fun after school. Right now we could have a night where we plan to build a fort or have a dance party or something. I’ll brainstorm some ideas for inside, after school fun with them.
I. I would definitely feel better if I could get some stuff done around the house during the week. If I want a night with my husband, a night to myself and some nights to go to bed early, there aren’t a lot of night left. Maybe just one night a week to get stuff one would be enough.
3. Practice mindfulness. I finally started meditating in the mornings again. I’ve only managed 5 minutes a morning this past week, but I think I can get in 10 minutes a morning this coming week. I really enjoy my morning commute (when I get my daughter to school on time), sipping coffee and listening to a podcast or book on tape I enjoy. I can revel in that time. Making dinner when the kids are watching TV could be a time to recharge before the slog that is bedtime. Or maybe we could all listen to Sitting Still Like a Frog (mindfulness exercises for kids) before bedtime (my daughter likes it, I think my son would struggle). I still need to flesh this one out.
So that is where I am on this thought-process problem right now. I will admit, writing that all out I already feel better about it. I do think I can manage to bring a little of what I love about the weekends to the work week, and make my actual time at work less stressful so that I don’t dread it as much. I just need to do a really good job of planning my week ahead of time so that I’m sure to get everything that I need. I’m already really good at looking at the week and determining when I can best fit in working out. Now I just need to make other important things in my life a probity. It’s possible, I just need to figure it out.