Inside: Ways that you can say no to teacher guilt, especially as a working mom!
The balance of being the “perfect” teacher to your classroom(s) of kids and a “perfect” mom to your own children can be a tricky one. It can be overwhelming and guilt-inducing when your work life takes over your quality time with your kids at home. You can survive when you just say no to teacher mom guilt. It may be easier said than done, but here are some tips for easing the guilt and staying sane.
What is working mom guilt?
Working mom guilt is that feeling that you are doing something wrong by working instead of spending time with your kids.
Arianna Huffington once said this about work mom guilt, “I think while all mothers deal with feelings of guilt, working mothers are plagued by guilt on steroids!”
Teacher moms, you can relate, we feel this all the time! Your classroom & students are demanding and you feel like you can always be doing more, the same with your family. Those feelings can easily lead to feelings of mommy guilt.
What is teacher guilt?
Like mom guilt, teacher guilt is the feeling that you should be doing more or that you are doing something wrong.
I like the way that Teachers Pay Teachers says it: “Teacher guilt happens when you feel like there is always more you want to do for your students, but yet there just simply isn’t enough time (this happens for nearly all teachers, trust me!) to get it done, and you feel guilty because “if only I could be like that one super teacher I know….” and “maybe I should be bringing more home or staying longer… as well as, “does this make me a bad teacher if I don’t?”… and so on.”
Dispel the teacher perfectionism myth.
There is no such thing as a perfect mom or a perfect teacher. Everyone makes mistakes, and in all reality, balance doesn’t really exist. The myth of teacher perfectionism leads to teacher guilt.
Give yourself permission to take “Family Time” and “You Time”…EVEN WHEN there’s still work to do!
Because the fact of the matter is, when you’re a teacher, there’s always more work that can be done. You have to choose to give yourself a break and focus on what matters. I’m giving you permission to make that choice! Taking time with your family AND time for yourself are both critical for your mental health. This will help you be a better teacher AND a better mother.
There are going to be times when you have a lot going on at school, and something will have to give at home. There will be other times that your family has celebrations, illnesses, or just needs to be together, and you need to call a sub or ask for some help. Just do it!
You can also find ways to involve your own children in school activities, then you don’t have to feel like you are choosing between your work and your family. If your school has a talent show or a musical, bring your own kids for some fun, family-friendly entertainment. Do your children at home love sports? Bring them to a student basketball game.
This has the added bonus of allowing your students to see you as a human being with a family. Relationships are so important, and being there for your classroom kids and your own kids goes a long way!
Don’t grade everything, but if you do…
This is one of the best pieces of advice I got as a new teacher. You DO NOT have to grade everything.
For the most part, I don’t grade formative assessments or assignments. I have my students check their own work. To see how they are doing or do small check-ins to see how they are doing.
Better yet, for objective assignments, use Google Forms, Formative, or other grading tools to make assignments you can auto-grade with a touch of a button. This will save you hours at school and help you avoid taking so much work home so you can focus on your family.
If you feel like you do HAVE to grade at home. Try involving your kids in the objective grading. If your kids are old enough, let them help you grade papers that don’t require a lot of subjectivity. Have them check in requirements or make sure students are showing work. Make it a family event by sitting down together at the table and having a healthy snack. Just don’t spill hummus on the assignments!
Don’t compare yourself to other teachers. This is one of the biggest mistakes teachers make! So what if the teacher next door appears to be doing more than you?? We usually compare the best version of others to the worst version of ourselves. This isn’t fair, and it isn’t realistic.
Just do the best you can at being a great teacher and a mom, while giving yourself grace. Remember, you can do anything, but you CAN’T do everything!
Don’t reinvent the wheel
You can find tons of pre-prepared units and worksheets in my shop and all over the internet on sites like Etsy or Teachers Pay Teachers. Why do all the work when someone else has already done it? For those days when you just need to be a mom, print off some free sub plans, and spend some bonding time with your own kids. Don’t wait until one is sick or you have a family emergency to give yourself permission to volunteer at their school, take a day trip together, or just spend some time hanging out together at home.
If you are looking to cut your planning time in half, request an invite to Wife Teacher Mommy Club. In the club, you get access to our full library of thousands of elementary resources. Plus, teacher life coaching, where you can ask questions and get the extra support you need to say no to teacher guilt!
These tips for easing the teacher guilt AND mom guilt will help you leave some of your workloads at school and enjoy the time you have with your family. Just remember, you’re doing the best you can, and you’re a fantastic mom and teacher!