As a teacher and a mom, I know firsthand the struggles that come with balancing a career and raising children. It’s a challenge that requires constant effort, juggling priorities, and making tough decisions. But in my experience, it’s also a rewarding journey.

In this post, I want to talk about three unexpected challenges that teacher moms face and how to overcome them. Specifically, when it comes to the summer break.

Whether you’re a seasoned educator-parent or a new mom, the tips and strategies we’ll discuss can help you thrive both in and out of the classroom.

Challenge #1: Transitioning to Summer

The end of the school year is always a flurry of activity and emotions. As a teacher, you’re wrapping up your lessons, grading exams, and trying to tie up loose ends. As a mom, you’re planning end-of-year parties, buying teacher gifts, and scheduling summer activities for your kids.

But as chaotic as this time can be, it’s only the beginning of a new challenge: transitioning to summer. Suddenly, the structured routine of the school year is gone, and you’re faced with weeks or months of unstructured time with your kids.

This can be overwhelming, but with some planning and preparation, you can make the most of your summer break.

Here are some tips that have worked for me:

Tip #1: Create a Schedule

One of the best ways to ease the transition to summer is by creating a schedule. It doesn’t have to be rigid or overly structured, but having a general routine for each day can provide a sense of security and predictability for both you and your kids.

One of the things that work best for me is using time blocking. I mentally divide the day into different activities or areas of focus.

For example, I might block out the morning for exercise and quiet work time, and the afternoons for outdoor activities or outings with my kids.

Tip #2: Use a Wall Calendar

To help older kids understand what activities we’ll be doing each day, I use a wall calendar. And as my kids have gotten older, they’ve gotten more involved with the scheduling process, too. We’ll sit down together each week to plan out our activities.

Tip #3: Keep it Flexible

It’s important to remember that summer break should be a time to relax and recharge, not to stick to a rigid schedule.

While having a general routine in place can help you stay on track, don’t be afraid to switch things up if something else comes up or if you just need a break.

Challenge #2: Professional Development and Childcare

Summer can also be a time for teachers to attend professional development (PD) and conferences. But this can be a challenge for teacher moms, particularly if they have young children and limited childcare options.

In my experience, here are some things that can help:

Tip #1: Evaluate the Importance of PD

Before committing to a PD opportunity, consider whether it’s essential or a “nice-to-have.” Does it align with your goals for yourself and your students? If it’s not a priority, you might want to skip it to focus on other things.

Tip #2: Explore Online PD Opportunities

Fortunately, there are plenty of online PD opportunities available that don’t require childcare. Look for webinars, virtual conferences, or other resources that you can access from home. This post has even more info about PD opportunities.

Challenge #3: Balancing Work and Family Time

Finally, one of the most significant challenges for teacher moms is finding a balance between work and family time.

It can be tempting to want to work all the time, especially when that may have been what your summer looked like pre-kiddos. But, it’s essential to make time for yourself and your family. Read more about maximizing your summer break here.

Here are some tips that can help:

Tip #1: Set Manageable Goals

Rather than trying to tackle a massive project or task all at once, break it down into smaller, manageable goals. This can help you keep track of progress and not feel overwhelmed by a monumental task.

Tip #2: Block Your Schedule to Avoid Working All Summer

Another way to avoid the feeling of having to work the entire summer is to use specific blocking for different activities during the day.

I’ll work for a set amount of time each day towards a realistic goal for the end of summer and set specific checkpoints to track progress. This allows me to be productive without feeling restricted or overwhelmed.

In Summary

Being a teacher mom comes with its challenges, but with some planning, organization, and prioritization, it’s also rewarding.

Remember to keep your goals realistic, maintain a flexible routine, and find time for your family and yourself.

Useful Links

Khristen [00:00:00]:

To start off this episode, I was going to make a reference, and I’ll still make a reference to it, but it was a meme that had six squares, and one of the squares was what my friends think I do, what my parents think I do. And it had just different things than what I actually do. And I was debating about whether or not I would make this reference for the beginning of this podcast episode, because I looked to see when this meme was actually popular. Apparently it was in 2012. So hopefully you get this reference in thinking about your summer vacation and what your friends think your summer vacation looks like, what your parents think it looks like, what your students think it looks like, and maybe what you thought your summer vacation would look like, or what you think it will look like when you have children, or before you had children. And today we’re going to be talking about some of the things that I have learned. I’ve got four littles right now, nine, eight, four, and two, and some things that I have learned over the years of having my summer break, and that’s in air quotes and some unexpected things that came up and some things that I have done to help me overcome those challenges. Welcome to the Secondary Teacher Podcast.

Khristen [00:01:24]:

The podcast for middle and high school teachers juggling multiple preps to get the strategies to reduce overwhelm so that you don’t have to choose between being an effective teacher and prioritizing important relationships. I’m your host, Kristen Massick, a ten year high school engineering teacher, former middle school assistant principal, and teacher coach. Every week we will discuss strategies, systems, and time saving tips to help you not only survive, but thrive as a multiple prep teacher. As we look into these challenges. I am really looking at this from a perspective of an educator parent, a teacher parent. I have never been a stay at home mom, so I am not sure how they have reacted to any of these scenarios just from my personal perspective of being a teacher mom and having littles. And now I guess they’re more of like mids. They’re not definitely like bigs, but apparently my oldest ones are considered tweens now.

Khristen [00:02:22]:

And so there are some things that I’ve noticed over the years, and the first is that transitioning to summer is difficult for everyone. And I think a lot of it is because we are so used to our schedules, whether the kids are at daycare, we’re at school, our kids are at school, and just knowing what is happening, when and every day is for the most part, pretty much the same. During the school year, we wake up, we all get out of the house at the same time, we go get dropped off, we go here, we do this. Then school ends, we pick up the kids, we come home, we eat, we have bedtime routine, and then we start all over again now that we’re home during the whole week. And I know we have the weekends, sure, there’s that, but I feel like it’s this big huge transition going into summer and the changing schedules. Like I said, it is difficult for us as teachers. Now we are home and we have more freedom and flexibility. And then there is that added change of our children’s schedules, because I know for me personally, that I do not have quite the schedule that daycare in school has for my children, which is something that I’m working on.

Khristen [00:03:49]:

And that is one of the things to help you overcome this particular challenge. And it is having schedules, having some sort of daily schedule and it doesn’t have to be rigid, but these are the things that we are doing before lunch and these are the things that we’re doing during quiet time and these are the things that we are doing between quiet time and dinner time. And here are the things that we’re doing between dinner time and bedtime and just kind of having those loose time blocks. And it could be rigid if you really would like it to be. But I’ve found that to keep my stress level down, I like to have it a little bit free flowing, but enough that my kids know, okay, this is what to expect during this block of time and gives them that sense of security, of knowing what is going to be happening pretty much from day to day. Now, to add to that, this year I got a calendar and I can’t remember where I got it from, but it is a wall calendar that I could write on and it has really helped my older kids get an idea of what we’re doing day to day. I’ll write things like swimming lessons or they’re going to a certain camp or we’re planning on going to this bike park and having that on the calendar. They know today is Monday and I go through and I cross off the day so they can tell what day we are on and it gives them idea of, okay, wid is Monday, this is what we’re doing.

Khristen [00:05:21]:

Here are some things that we have planned. Oh, we don’t really have anything planned today, so this is probably going to be more of a loose time block day, whereas tomorrow we’ve got swim lessons and a baseball game and things are going to need to be a little bit tweaked and possibly a little bit more rigid because we don’t have as much time. And that has really helped because the older kids can see what we’re doing and once again, they really enjoy that stability of knowing what is happening day to day. That is something that they have gotten used to at school. There is usually a calendar or an agenda or something and they know what’s happening day to day. And that I think has really helped them transition a little bit better into the summer. And it’s also helped me and my husband as well, because even though I really love to use Google Calendar and I share my calendars with him, that sometimes having it written on that calendar by the door as it goes into the garage, that it just gives us a reminder of what is going on. The next unexpected challenge was PD and conferences that require childcare in the summer.

Khristen [00:06:33]:

Our childcare is a facility that caters to teachers and she is only open during the school year. She starts when teachers go back to school and she ends on the last day of school so that she can have the summer herself. Brilliant for her situation, but it makes it difficult for us to figure out how to go to PD because in reality, our contract doesn’t really cover those PD days. Sure, we’ll get paid for them, but in our situation, we have to figure out what we’re going to and what we’re not going to. That’s how we have overcome or how we’re dealing with this challenge is to decide whether or not it is required or essential. And that could be a personal thing. Typically, I would hope that any required PD is being done on a contracted day and therefore you would already have childcare available to you. But then on those other PDS, I mean, you could fill your entire summer with conferences and workshops.

Khristen [00:07:48]:

At least that’s what I have been familiar with. But there are alternatives. First off, decide whether or not it’s essential. Do you have to have this? Is it going to help you meet your goals or your students goals? Is it a need to have or nice to have? Is it something, once again, that it’s essential? Do you have to do this during the summer or could it wait till next summer or could it be something that you do during the school year? The other thing is that we have been able to have a lot more different PD opportunities that go beyond face to face workshops. And if you go back to episode 143, Professional Development 20, it talks more about different ways that you can do professional development that is different than face to face. And are some alternatives that can still allow you to grow and do PD over the summer if you so choose, while not having to worry about getting childcare for your children. And the last and final unexpected challenge that I’ve experienced as a teacher mom is feeling like you need to plan or work all the time. Prekiddos the summer, a lot of it was spent planning and prepping for the following school year.

Khristen [00:09:07]:

Sure, there were vacations and there were some fun things, and you got to sleep in and your schedule did change. But when you had free time or downtime, a lot of times you planned and prepped. Then having children, you were already in that cycle of planning and prepping for the entire summer. So once again, if you want to listen to Episode 134, it talks about creating a schedule for your summer so that you can get the things done that you would like to get done. But then you can also balance having a summer this idea of creating a schedule or blocking out specific time and then setting goals. Having a goal for a specific amount of time, like a week or the month or the summer and then kind of chunking that down into bite size pieces so that you are giving yourself an hour, 2 hours, however you want that to look. Per day, per week, and then allowing yourself to be flexible with that. I personally when I put the kiddos to sleep.

Khristen [00:10:13]:

Then I spend a couple of hours working on things. And I am not too concerned about whether or not I got everything done, because I have a larger goal for the end of the summer. And I feel like as long as I am chipping away at it and I’m making progress, that eventually I will meet that goal. As long as I have also put in a realistic goal and that I have some target I’m trying to think of the word here, but some specific key points or checkpoints where I should be at various parts of the summer. But I’ve also made it so that my goal isn’t so ridiculously huge that I would need to be working more than a couple of hours a week. And if I want to work more than that or if I have the time to do that, I have the flexibility to do that, but it’s not so restrictive that does allow me during the day to enjoy my time with my children more because I know that I’ve already set aside that time. So my teacher mom, friend, whether you are currently a mother or if you are hoping to one day be a mother, know that there are some unexpected challenges but you can make them work, especially if you know kind of what is coming along. Here are the three unexpected challenges of being a teacher mom and then how you overcome them.

Khristen [00:11:46]:

The first is transitioning is hard for everyone. Having a schedule and having some sort of calendar that you and your children can see will really help out as you transition. The second one is PD and summer conferences and figuring out what is essential and possibly thinking about additional ways to have PD in workshops so that you don’t have to worry about childcare. And then finally feeling like you need to plan and work over the entire summer and not be able to enjoy your summer can be overcome by doing scheduling or specific blocking. Creating some simple goals that you can achieve by the end of the summer that allow you to enjoy time with your children during the day, and then whatever you have set aside that time, whether it’s nap time before. They wake up or after they go to sleep. Getting those things done so that you feel like you are still making progress toward your goals. If this episode was helpful to you, it could be for others.

Khristen [00:12:56]:

To help spread the word about this podcast, take a screenshot of this episode, add it to your IG stories, and tag me at kristen Massick K-H-R-I-S-T-E-N-M-A-S-S-I-C. Until next week.

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