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 (  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.



Teaching, Learning & Blue Apron

It’s a personal post.  Stop reading if you’re expecting edu-leadership reflection and insight.  This is all about cooking with my boys.

No matter how you feel about companies like Blue Apron, I took advantage of a free meal via email from a friend.  What’s to lose?  Nothing but gain for me.  Here’s why.

A box of ingredients for two meals arrives on my porch on Tuesday.  Jacob has baseball practice on Tuesdays; Joshua is between sports right now.  Josh picks which meal he’ll cook on Tuesday.  Jacob gets the other meal for Wednesday.  Joshua likes to follow the recipe exactly and make adjustments the second time around.  Jacob likes to improvise the first time around if he feels like the recipe needs it.

Learning to cook.  Hopefully you had a parent who taught you the basics, the family traditions and even some improvisation in the kitchen.  I’ve done this too.  Joshua even invented a dish we call Tater Tot Casserole.  It’s pretty good.  But now we’re learning to cook a bit differently.

Welcome to Casa Haugen, Blue Apron.  Each recipe comes with a card.  Ingredients and background on one side and six pictures with six directions on the other side.  I don’t direct the cooking experience so much as I serve as the assistant.  I relinquish the “teacher” role to the card.  And we both learn something when we cook: a new ingredient, technique, combination of flavors…

A few observations:

My boys give me good direction.  “Mom, can you mince the garlic while I clean the other vegetables?”  “The pan is heavy.  Can you hold it while I scrape it?”

Direction and coarse correction from me is easier when they’re in the driver’s seat.

Sometimes my help isn’t needed.  “Mom, I got it from here.”

The card is the boss.  Jacob: “What’s next?” Me: “I don’t know.  What’s the card say?”

They’re proud of cooking for the family.  “I think dad’s really going to like this.”  “I hope the hash is seasoned well.”

What’s the learning for me?  Give them room.  Take direction.  Be a partner, not a boss.  Enjoy cooking together.  Let them shine.

My poor kids rarely get a break from their teacher/principal mom.  Or maybe all moms are like me.  Protective, teaching all the time, hovering more than they’d like to, wanting to give independence but struggling… who knows?

This is a new biweekly experience for our family that I look forward to like no other.  Love cooking with my boys!  And learning with them too!