Monday Musings: Teachers Take Time to Take Care of Your Relationships

Newsflash:  There’s more to life than teaching!

A lot of time, planning and sacrifice goes into being an effective educator, but you should not sacrifice your relationships.  Although I am an English/Language Arts academic coach as well as a teacher, you would think my title said life coach or counselor.  From teachers I coach, current and former colleagues, and teachers I know in other school districts, I am hearing time and time again how their relationships outside of school are falling apart or are strained.  These are relationships between themselves and their parents, significant other, siblings, children or friends.  The reason for these strained and fractured relationships seem to be rooted in burning the midnight oil for school and leaving little time for anything or anyone else.

I assert, just as you take time to lesson plan, you need to take time and work on maintaining healthy relationships outside of school.  Committing too much time to work leads to burnout and burnout leads to Monday Malady and Friday Flu.  You know those teachers who dread the weekend ending and are typically sick on Monday or are sick of the school week and decide to start the weekend early on Friday.  When your main focus is work, it will be hard to maintain healthy relationships.

My husband and I learned this the hard way when we both were three years into our career.  We didn’t have kids at the time, but we were more like roommates than husband and wife.  We would go to work early and come home late, sometimes spending 10-12 hours at work.  We were eating separately and barely talked to each other.  We weren’t happy with work because all we did was work and we weren’t happy with our relationship because we weren’t spending time together.  The spark we had was diminishing into a barely lit ember.  We felt we were meant to be together.  My husband and I attended the same elementary, middle and high school.  Although we rode different school buses, we lived in the same neighborhood.  We didn’t meet until we had one class, Agricultural Economics, that overlapped between his technology major and my education major at Purdue.  How could we let our jobs ruin our relationship, when it seemed that we were destined to be in each other’s orbit?

My husband and I had to figure out how to maintain our relationship with each other, our family, and our friends and also be effective professionals especially now that we have children.  My husband is currently an Database Administrator for the state of Indiana and leads the Oracle Database team.  Being in a relationship with any administrator requires strategic planning.  We do our best to schedule two dates night a month.  Since it is also important for us to connect with other couples who are our friends, one date night is just for us and the other during the month is with another couple.  This gives us time to focus on each other, have a social life and have a much needed break from our profession.  We have rules such as not checking  notifications or replying to email to make sure we are engaged with each other and living in the moment.

Jermaine and Shawnta Barnes at Newfields

When you are a busy professional, you have make time to schedule time with other.  On my schedule each month, time is allotted to schedule time with family and friends and plan activities. Sometimes you have to take advantage of unexpected opportunity.  Last Thursday, my husband’s boss told him he had to take off a day for all of his hard work.  As patrons of Newfields (formally the Indianapolis Museum of Art), we know that Thursday is the day when Newfields is open past 5 p.m.  There were only a few more days to visit the the Beer Garden that’s on the grounds before it closes for the season.  After I came home from work, we decided to go there.  Yes, we had work we could have been doing, but when it comes to our professions many of us can always find work to do.  Since it was Thursday afternoon, we had the place to ourselves.  Afterwards, we went to our boys’ school to watch them battle during their Battlefield Chivalry club.  Our boys were so excited to see us at their club.  We were glad to we had the chance to support an activity they have been doing since last school year.

We shouldn’t lose the people who are the most important to us because of our jobs.  We will be more effective at our jobs if we have more in our lives than just work.

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