My Teacherly Life: A Haiku
Life is so busy.
Now, I like to be tidy
but I am so TIRED
Not normal tired either– pandemic causing virtual to in person to virtual AND in person and yada yada yada, pandemic teaching sucks. The whole thing about unprecedented times is old, but I never really got used to it. My brain hates change and my brain always loved school in the traditional sense. My brain always understood school and the rules.
I always thrived in structure. In the pre COVID times, it seemed more that there was time in the day. There was time to do the things, maybe not ALL the things but some, for sure. As things changed, there seemed to be less and less time in the day. There was less structure. More and more days I found myself working into late hours of the night. I found myself less caught up with my normal life, even the general maintenance of my apartment.
Anyway, as a tired but also tirelessly tidy teacher, I’ve compiled a few tips that help me in the chaos.
Here are some lazy tips I follow:
NEVER WASTE A TRIP!
Any time I’m leaving a space to go to another, I check to see if things should be coming with me and drop it on the way. Even if I’m not going down the stairs, I put the garbage by the stairs. I make sure that the next time I go down the stairs, the garbage comes with me. In the meantime, there are new bags in every pail. The garbage is out of the way and by the shoes in the mud room.
Vola! Happy in the moment and happy later when I don’t waste that trip.
Now this extends to many things but the other thing is the BANE of my existence.
I literally hate it. I loathe it. I despise it. I detest it.
Whenever I am going to the laundry room or on the same floor as the laundry room, you bet your ass the laundry is coming with me. I am not going there empty handed for that is a waste of a trip for a tired teacher.
That leads me to the next big thing about LAUNDRY, or other things that are hard.
CHUNK THE THINGS THAT ARE HARD
Do them in baby steps.
Make a pile. When you have garbage or laundry, make a pile and put it where you HAVE TO SEE. Remember I put the bag of garbage in the mud room right in front of the stairs so I will more likely take it with me when I’m leaving.
The next step could even be taking that garbage just a smidge closer to the outside door.
The big thing is understanding that one step, even a baby step, is a step in the right direction and a step in the right direction is positive change.
All we can strive for in this life is striving for positive change.
Now I am one that can certainly understand the pangs of anxiety and what that can do for a tidy home. Anxiety can freeze you from starting anything. I mean that for people that exceptionally struggle with anxiety, like me, and those that have regular old anxiety. Sometimes the list of things gets so big, you need to make a slight effort to start.
Try to tell yourself ‘You just have to take that baby step.’
What does the effort to start look like for you?
The effort to start can be BIG or small. It can look like different things on different people.
Sometimes that means stripping the bed of the sheets, just the act of getting them on the floor leads you to want to and almost kind of have to put those clean sheets on. If the dirty sheet stays on the floor for a bit, let it. Eventually try to kick it to the pile though.
It can be wiping off the sink in the bathroom.
It could be washing a dish, or just putting it in the sink, if that’s what you can manage.
It could be getting out of bed for the first time in days and making a to do list to eventually do something.
MAKE YOURSELF A WHEN-YOU-GET-HOME HABITS TO DO LIST
When you get home, there should be a list of things you do every single time.
Nothing is too small to put away right now. Make habits of doing the little things right away when you come in.
Hang up the coat, make a place for your purse.
When you do get there, and things are finally the level of tidy your tired teacher self prefers:
- Keep your tools where you need them.
If you use Lysol wipes to wipe the sink, keep them near that sink. If you use Windex for your windows, keep it near the one you always start at and get through as many as you can after that. Leave the Windex there for next time so you remember where to start.
If your cleaning supplies are where you need them, you’re more likely to keep up and tidy in the moment instead of waiting for the pile up.
- Hang it back up before the pile.
See the value in the little things. Little daily tidy habits will lead you to an easier routine and less of the monster mess chaos I have shown you.
You may think you don’t have the time to make it perfect, so leave it for later; but that causes the pileup! If you need to hang it up inside out, do it.
If you need to put it back in the wrong drawer for now, do it.
Do not throw that ONE item on the floor. Mess breeds mess. If you don’t have to make a pile; Do. Not. Make. A. Pile. A pile only piles on more and more. No piles. No floor. NO BED.
When you hang up the clothing inside out, or get the shoes in one place, you allow yourself the time to fix it later. You allow yourself a clean space, a clean floor. You allow yourself a feeling of peace instead of chaos for that one moment.
I am not saying to leave the shoes forever, but continuing these little habits will keep things clear until you have the time and mindset to do it.
When things get bad, and even the little things are hard:
- Start over small
Little clean spaces lead to more little clean spaces.
Remember you have to start small.
I start with the dishes. Dishes are my easy (as doing laundry is my hard.) It’s something I know I can chunk. Start with clearing the dishwasher; which I praise the universe for every single day (thanks to my giant man for carrying it up the stairs for me– pray emoji) Once the dishwasher is clear, I am possibly spent. If not, maybe fill it and by god, if I can press start, I will.
If dishes aren’t easy, start with laundry. Again maybe you can only collect three items of clothing today and put them near the washer. That leaves just one less step for tomorrow you to have to do. And maybe tomorrow you can pick up the slack for today you. Think of it that way.
I like to think of it as the past me sending me surprises. THANK GOD I didn’t have to collect those three pieces of clothing today.
2. Live in the right now
Live in the right now, not the perfect you’re picturing or where you want to be eventually. Start from where you are at and take little steps. Use the foil, use the paper plates. Help yourself catch up before there is more when the sink or dishwasher get too full. Yes, do not do this always for the environment’s sake, but for your sanity’s sake once something is overflowing; you can’t make it worse. I consider it like when you use paper plates because parties get too wild to keep up, same thing but that’s just my life right now. And as kids used to say (or still say? I don’t know,) “Sometimes it just be like that.”
Thanks be to the Tired Tidy Teachers
In an odd twist of fate, I am not currently a tired tidy teacher. I am editing this in the ‘in between’. As I first stated in my last post, I’ve decided to follow my romantic heart over my teacher’s heart– a bittersweet tale of a sad ending blended in time with a happy one.
I am a few weeks out and the pressures of being a tired teacher are subsiding. I want to thank and wish well to all the teachers still going because, oh boy, it’s hard. This recent teaching life is not what I originally signed on to. I wasn’t trained for this. For god’s sake, I could hardly load my teaching videos for graduate school, then suddenly I was expected to teach students from afar distant computer land.
These past few years have been the hardest of my career but I won’t let that take away from the beautiful times I have had with some awesome students and staff. In hindsight, I am so very lucky. I have had a few years shy of a decade to enjoy teaching in a city I adore. I have had some of the most fun, unique, and truly genuine students. My last group will especially hold a place in my heart because they were there to witness the magic.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss them and I’m sure it’s the same for them– but they get it. I can tell. And that is caring about someone.
Caring about someone is wanting them to be happy even if it sucks for you.
On the day that I told my students, a particularly close student of mine exclaimed, “MISS, you are going to leave us for a MAN! What’s more important- a man or SCHOOL?” In my movie-esque tone with my rose colored sunglasses, I replied, “He isn’t A man. He’s THE man.”
At that moment, they got it. They understood.
Honestly, they got it better than the staff could.
You know why? Young love gets it. Young love can’t stand being away from each other.
These guys understand young love.
I mean, my god, high schoolers FaceTime each other while they’re in different classes just to listen to each other breathing.
In teacherly fashion, we don’t live without planning our next move. In September I will be back at it teaching a whole different group in a whole different place. If any of my old students do stumble on here, please don’t tell them they have such big shoes to fill– it would be intimidating.
A future tidy and hopefully a lot less tired teacher!