Bracing for Impact

The next four weeks are going to be intense. Really, really intense. It all starts tomorrow and I feel like I’m physically and psychologically bracing myself for impact.

The next two weeks are a perfect storm of obligations at work; we are trying out a new block schedule on Mondays and Tuesdays, during which I have to be at work at the normal 8:05am start time and also during which I’m teaching two brand-new-to-me 80 minute FLEX classes, one to 6th graders and one to 8th graders. That means I have to have two 80 minute lesson plans ready every Monday, in subjects I’ve never taught before. After teaching those classes I have lunch, and then I teach two 80 minute periods of my regular 6th grade Spanish classes. Tuesdays are a little better; I only have my regular 2nd, 4th and 6th periods (also 80 minutes each), and I also get an 80 minute prep period. On Mondays I have to teach all the way through, without a prep (I offered to do this because they allow me to come late every day even though I get paid full time, and once a month there is a 45 minute “advisory” period I don’t have to teach because of my special set up, which really isn’t equitable, so I took on the extra FLEX when they needed coverage, because it felt like the fair thing to do).

This also means that on Monday and Tuesday mornings I can’t take my daughter to school. I am very fortunate that her friend’s father is willing to pick her up on those days because without a second car it would be exceedingly difficult for my husband to get her to school by 7:50am, with my son ready to drop off right after that. All this means I have to extract myself right as the morning routine is ramping up, which I know will be really difficult. It also means I need to have everything ready to go the night before–my daughter’s lunch packed and ready, my coffee cup washed, my clothes out, my daughter’s clothes out, etc. It’s not so much having it all ready, it’s the anxiety that I’ve forgotten something, and that someone will have a meltdown right when I’m trying to duck out the door. To say I’m anxious about getting to work on time would be a grave understatement. (The only “stress” dream I have about work involves me being away from my classroom when class starts. Usually I am lost on the campus for some reason, unable to find my way to my students, who I know are milling about, wondering where I am.) Being late for school is a very big fear of mine.

As if all that weren’t enough, this Friday marks the end of the 2nd trimester, which means grades will be due late next week. I have A LOT of grading and inputting to do before then.

And of course there is all the drama going on. I’m hoping the new schedule will distract me from all that. (They will be deciding this week if they are entering a vote of no confidence toward our principal and vice-principal–if the superintendent promises that both administrators will be removed before next year they will hang back, but if he won’t offer a definitive timetable for that announcement we will be presenting a letter to the board, and the press!, in two weeks.)

Today I spent 7 hours in my classroom. The first 3.5 hours I planned for my FLEX periods and made all the copies I’ll need this week (of course the big, fast copier was out of toner so I had to make them on the super slow copier, of course!) The good news is I found two great resources and feel thoroughly prepared to fill those 160 FLEX minutes with meaningful material. I even have agendas written for all my classes, which I think will really help calm the kids, who I am sure are just as nervous about sitting through 80 minute classes as I am about teaching them.

The second 3.5 hours was spent grading a million papers. At least during that time I got to have TV shows playing in the background. I still have a lot more grading to do, but at least I know what my 6th graders have turned in so far, so I can remind them specifically about getting the rest of it in before Friday.

Just as things ease up at school in two weeks my husband will be headed off for SXSW. He’s gone every year since we’ve been together–this will be his 11th time attending the music festival. It used to be a leisure trip, but now he attends a conference for people from other cities who have a job similar to his own and he only has to take two of the days off. It’s not a purely work-related trip though: he pays his own air fare and accommodations, but gets his premium access badge paid for by the city of Austin because of his job with the city. Even if it hadn’t warped into a weird personal/work hybrid trip I would send him off with my blessing; I know how much he needs these five days away seeing music and just generally decompressing from the demands of his real life.

The last week of March I will be running on fumes, still gritting my teeth through the schedule pilot, but without the weight of 2nd trimester grades hanging over my head. My daughter has spring break that week, which means a different morning routine (her same friends will be taking her to zoo camp), plus I need to be at the zoo a lot earlier than normal to pick her and her friend up. And then, finally, the first week of April is my spring break, a bright beautiful light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. I can’t wait to have that week to rest, recharge, work on my house and get caught up at work.

I appreciate that I already recognize how hard the next month is going to be; I’ve started to think about what allowances I should give myself over the next four weeks to survive without incurring unnecessary guilt. I worked hard in February to bring down my spending (and I succeeding! My grocery bill was significantly lower than it was in January–I want to double check the numbers first but even if I’m missing a trip, I still saved more than I had hoped to), but in March I may have to give myself a little leeway. My workout regiment may have to be reduced as well, especially if the disrupted sleep patterns my kids have fallen into continue. It’s hard for me to allow myself to let these things slide after I’ve worked so hard to create habits and schedules that assure I work out, or spend less, but the amount of time I’ll need to put toward planning and grading is significant, and with my husband gone for five days, time will be tight.

I have a feeling self-compassion will come in handy over the next four weeks. I’m so glad I discovered it before this shit storm descended.

What does your March look like?


  1. WOW. What a month!
    Sounds like you totally have your husband’s back. Hope he has yours too and has avoided evening meetings and events for these immediate two weeks of the month.
    Very best wishes for you holding through!

  2. Wow, sounds tough. Sounds like you are mentally prepared for it…and amazing that you are thinking ahead to how to cut yourself slack. Good luck!

  3. Sounds like a rough month. I hope that at the end of it, you get something of a break. Sending you lots of patience and peace!

  4. Go easy on yourself, and be realistic. If something slips one day (spending or exercise), then don’t beat yourself up, or think that the whole month is down the drain. Tomorrow is always another day. And if it slips then too? Be kind to yourself.

    You wrote, “I know how much he needs these five days away seeing music and just generally decompressing from the demands of his real life.” I’m wondering when do you get five days away decompressing from the demands of your real life? Maybe you could arrange something for later in the year? Because it sounds to me that you will deserve it (and need it)!

  5. Well I’m probably going to get a whole bunch of grief for this…Possibly from you and/or your regular commenters but I’m going to say it anyway.
    I’ve been reading for a while (read your old blog too) and I think I’ve commented before but nothing too thought provoking or anything..

    *So when I started reading this post I began feeling the teeth clenching, back tightening feeling that I get (or always have?) with all that sort of “stuff” that you were laying out…I’m a parent and I generally seem to have anxiety always kinda hanging around. I guess what I’m saying first is that I can relate (as most here can)
    *Which leads me to what occurred as I continued to read on. I actually had to double back and reread the part where you said you would still send him off with your blessing etc. I thought (really) this surely is satire, but no, I know it’s not.
    * you stated that you spent 7 hours doing grades and stuff. Was this on the weekend? So was your husband at home alone with the kids? and if so doing what?
    *Also just wondering, can husband pack lunches and get clothing ready the night before (not including when he is away at the festival obviously)
    Has he started bathing the kids in the evening yet?
    Also, in relation to a recent post ( not sure which one) he really ought to have already experienced the evening /bedtime routine alone that you’ve stated he would really lose his shit doing. And the middle of the night awake kiddos…is he not on this duty at all?
    *So yah, give yourself a break however you think you need. You seem to be taking on a bunch of responsibilities solo in a family that aren’t really supposed to be. There should be much more teamwork when it comes to the parenting and finances.
    *Maybe when hubby returns you can have a handful of evenings that are yours to do with what you like: away from the home grading, out with friends, eating out alone, movies or one of my favorites…no real plan! And this can be time when he can acquaint himself with the evening routine??

    Just my thoughts.
    Anon in Massachusetts

  6. I am glad your husband is going and that you’re sending him off with your blessing. There’s something to the counting, the insisting that if he does X you get to do Y, that I find stressful and counterproductive. Sometimes I think it makes us focus more on inequality instead of on getting along with our spouses. Whereas doing something nice and giving for a spouse feels good. I have gone through times where I tried to do less for my husband, thinking it would make me feel better about him not doing things for me. It made me feel worse! A couple of months ago, my husband was having a really difficult day, and I told him “I really want to take care of you when you have days like this. I want to support you and make it easier. (I think maybe I gave some suggestions of ways I could help) I just need to know that when I’m having a tough time, you’ll be there for me.” And believe it or not, he said “what do you need me to do?”

    That said, YES to the self-compassion. Figure out what you can be forgiving of in yourself to make the next few weeks easier.

  7. Ugh, sounds very rough. I’m glad that you have a plan and that you are thinking about being easy on yourself – sounds like the best way to deal with it. I know you will get through this, as you always do.

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