In the past month I’ve learned that if I don’t eventually find time to take care of myself, eventually I will crash. We just started a new school year and already I’m back into my typical routine of going at it full force, bringing work home, staying up late to get it all done, and spending very little time resting. I know that I need more sleep, but I keep justifying staying up late with my list of things to do.
I try to carve out time with my family, but I’m so exhausted that the quality of our interactions aren’t what I would like. I get 45 minutes 2 times a week to plan if I don’t have a meeting during my planning during those times. My grade level time supports me and gives me flexibility on grade level meetings, but I don’t want to miss anything about my students if I don’t attend meetings. I’m trying to look after the students who require high levels of support while also tending to all of the other students. I’m helping get students off the bus in the morning and in the afternoon who need supervision. I have a student who won’t go to lunch without me. I get hit at work–not hard, just a little. And I get emotionally sucked in by students who have hard lives because I just care so much about them that sometimes I come home and I worry about them.
I’m so drained when I get home that I desperately want my own children sit quietly for like 20 minutes so I can just collect myself. They’re kids, though. Kids don’t sit quietly for 20 minutes. I just breath and close my eyes and Squeaker tells me to wake up. “Wake up, Mommy. Wake up.” And I tell him I am awake. I am. I just need a minute. One minute. One minute to not take care of another person. One minute to not have to calm someone down or deal with a struggle or worry. Because it’s consuming me.
So the other day, I didn’t bring any work home. I didn’t. On that day, a child had run from me three times, we made a difficult placement decision and a student I cared deeply about left crying and I couldn’t fix it, a student hit me for the first time, and…well, there’s more, but the entire day completely drained me. I just wanted to hit the sheets. I came home, ate dinner with my family, snuggled with Squeaker, held Big Guy for a bit, and lied down. I fell asleep at 7 p.m. and woke up at 8:30 to help tuck in the kids, then went back to bed. I literally crashed. Good thing, too, since Squeaker woke up at 4:20 the next morning.
My point? I’m learning that I just can’t keep pulling these 11 p.m. shifts, doing work at night. It makes me more emotionally vulnerable. I’m not on my game. I mean, I’m sensitive anyway because my own child has a disability and I tend to want to protect my students because I’d want someone to protect my child. But I know that I need more sleep and rest for strength and optimal brain functioning. I’ve got some catching up to do on that end. I have to keep reminding myself of this lesson, as it seems I never quite learn it completely. So if you ever see me on Twitter or Facebook late at night, please tell me to go to bed.