Balancing Teaching and the House

     Those of us who are teaching have found that balancing our lives is not an easy task. Especially when we have a spouse and children. I literally pour my whole being into my career and it's hard to squeeze anything else out at the end of the day, but I have to. Here are a few tips I have found to help me balance my work and my house.

Household Chores: Do these daily, but keep it light. Get beds made, pick up anything that's out of order, and put things back immediately. Otherwise, your house will turn into a disaster before you have time to ask yourself what happened. Break big jobs into smaller ones. For example, instead doing everything at once, break it down into daily chores. Pick up the small things everyday, and do one heavy-cleaning item a day. Mondays are for the bathroom (toilet and floor), Tuesdays for the kitchen (floor, counters, drawers, etc.) and so on. If you have help at home (which you should if you have a spouse and children), then divide the tasks up between everyone. Make a schedule, keep it posted on the refrigerator or somewhere visible, and stick to it. This will make your life easier, as well as keep everyone in the house accountable.

Cooking: This seems like a daunting task after a long day of teaching. It doesn't have to be, though. Here's what I do to make cooking easy and simple. First, make yourself a menu every week. This way, you know what you are making and on what day (my daughter loves looking at the menu to see what we're having, especially when there's a dish on there that she's excited about). It also makes grocery shopping not so un-enjoyable as you know exactly what you need, so all you have to do is go in, get all your ingredients, and get out. Don't feel like you have to be super mom and cook everything from scratch. You don't. Take short cuts when you can. I like to include veggies in my dinner every night, but chopping and cutting can get tiring, as well as add to your preparation time. So, I buy frozen vegetables, and then to mix up the variety, I get a few other vegetables to add to it. These extra vegetables will have to be prepared by hand, but since the bulk of my vegetables come from the frozen bag, I have less work. You can also just buy varied bags of frozen vegetables. If you are having to chop, however, you can do it in advance (say on a Sunday) so that it will be ready to cook the night you are making dinner.
     Another thing that helps me is to use a rotating menu. What I mean by rotating menu is I typically make the same sort of foods on certain nights. Mondays I do chicken, Wednesdays is pasta, and Friday is a casserole or baked dish. Now, sometimes I get away from these, but typically I follow this plan. This makes it easier when creating my menu. Tuesdays and Thursdays I don't follow any particular plan, but what I typically make those nights are sopes, burritos, tacos, etc. I also only plan for 5 nights, and we go with the flow on the weekends (since we are often running around the city on the weekend, or out of town altogether).
    One last tip is to purchase a crock pot if you don't already have one. I have had one for more than a year but have used mine only twice. However, I plan on using it more (now that I have played around with it and feel more comfortable with it) during this next school year because all you have to do is toss in all the ingredients in the morning, and then when you return in the afternoon everything is cooked.
    I also suggest getting lots of rest. I nap every afternoon, which, in return, gives me the energy to then get up and make a meal for the family to enjoy. Without good rest, you will find yourself very grouchy, and this will reflect in the classroom and at home. So sleep, sleep, sleep!