Work/Life Balance. #reset

If you know Jen Kloczko, you know she’s rockin’ the challenges of being a principal and maintaining work/life balance (even in the midst of opening a new school site).  I admire the choices and priorities she makes between work, family, fitness, reflection and fun.  Not a exhaustive list of items to balance, by any means.  Like Jen, I believe this balance is critical to our happiness, longevity in the work and ability to continue to support the myriad people in our lives.

Let’s just start by saying, I was flailing.  But the good news is, I’ve experienced a reset.

IMG_0723First, I’ve started actually eating lunch.  Eating.  At a table.  For a whole 15 minutes.  Without working.  In the past, I’ve wolfed down my lunch in between other tasks, nibbled mindlessly here and there, or just plain skipped it.  So the result was to eat everything in site upon arriving home.  Or snacking on the who-knows-what left in the staff room.  The interesting part of sitting and eating lunch is how hard it is to just do one thing.  I have to self-correct constantly as I reach for my phone, pick up a document or try to leave mid-bite to attend to things that can wait.  And that’s the big a-ha.  Things can wait.  Unless the school’s on fire or a major injury needs attention, I can take 15 minutes of my day to eat.  And so now I do.  And I’m going to continue.  I even mark it on my calendar to make sure I don’t abandon ship.

Second, I’ve found exercise that I like.  I hate(d) exercise.  I quit the swim team in high school because our coach made us run.  I didn’t sign up for track, lady, I signed up to swim. But now I’ve found my people, my place, my activity and my time.  5am, Kaia Petaluma.  It’s dynamic, interesting and kicks my butt.  And the ladies I exercise with are positive, encouraging and fun.  The kind of people I try to always surround myself with.  Lifting others up.  Celebrating the small wins as much as the big ones.

IMG_0761Third, I’m re-embracing family time that often involves traveling and watching our boys play sports.  A recent post on FB: One day you’ll wake up, & there won’t be anyone left to take to practice (sportsdadshub.com).  So true.  And so sad.  We had two big transitions at Casa Haugen this school year.  Jacob started junior high, and Joshua started high school.  I have a high schooler.  How did THAT happen!?!  So rather than grumble at the travel ball schedule, who’s picking up from soccer practice or the cost of sports equipment, I’m embracing it all as time with my family.  Hubby and I sweat in the stands as we cheer on the team, take pics and discuss the calls and rules.  Whichever son isn’t playing spends his time cheering and chatting with us, wandering the complex or making runs to the snack bar.  We are in it together!  And the clock is ticking.  Sooner than I realize, I won’t be needed for a ride or to help pick out new cleats.  I’ve always loved to watch my boys play but somewhere along the way I focused less on the joy and more on the chore.  I’m choosing to focus on the joy again.

It’s not all figured out but I know my friend, Jen, would applaud my efforts and encourage me to continue.  I still work too much.  I don’t have good boundaries about email and phone calls.  I volunteer for too many things and try to squeeze too much into a day.  There’s a lot of work still to do.  But I highly recommend tackling what you can.  I feel good.  I have more energy, and I’m doing better work for my school and my family.  It’s been an amazing #reset.

 

My Neighbor Letter. Building Relationships.

We all share so much with our PLN and learn an equal if not great amount from our work together.  This week I was recounting a few to do’s to a small but mighty group on Voxer and their responses inspired this post.  Thanks #strataproblems, you make me a better principal.

It’s pretty simple.  I write a letter to our school neighbors at the end of summer.  It was my second year as a principal when I decided to start this annual tradition.  If you live near an elementary school, you know it can be a blessing and a burden.  Traffic, bells, basketball courts to play on, fields to play ball, and more traffic.  I wanted to open a conversation and give thanks.  Our neighbors are our allies, keeping an eye on the campus, looking out for the space and even our students as they come and go.

I didn’t hear back from many neighbors but the ones who did engage were lovely, supportive and appreciative.  When I moved school sites last year, the letter didn’t go out.  No good excuses, just a fact.  So I’m back in the saddle this year.  It’s ready for mailing.

IMG_0151

One question that’s come up is addresses.  Two ways I’ve done that: Zillow and Google Maps.  Every school site is different and what defines neighbor really depends on how wide the impact of campus activity is for you.  This year I’ve included a nearby church whereas at my former school, the entire mailing list was residential.  My colleague, Amy Fadeji, wondered about her school as it is quite rural with few homes nearby.  I think a neighbor letter is even more important in this instance.  You have fewer potential stewards of the school so best to get them all engaged and understanding their value to the campus and community.  I say, Go for it!

Here are two samples of my letter.  You’re welcome to grab whatever works for you and your school community!  Building relationships, one neighbor at a time.

letter to neighbors August 2016 – Google Docs

letter to neighbors August 2012 – Google Docs