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.



An attempt at reflection (part 1)

May 11th already.

I’ve heard “the 90 days of May” and other teacher-isms about the final weeks of school.  I feel like May is flying by, my sense of time is warped and I feel like I look at my calendar every 10 minutes for a reality check.  Probably not just a feeling.

To center myself, gather up a few minutes to keep the time from swirling wildly around me, I’ll take a stab at a reflection on the year.  It’s overdue.  It’s been a year of huge growth for me.  Exciting and scary.

FullSizeRender (5)I’m a Viking!  In August I wouldn’t have said that with any conviction.  I was a lost puppy trying to lead a school, learn kids’ names, start the year strong.  School is school, you’d think.  But you’d really only think that if you didn’t work in education.  School’s have their own flavor, pulse, attitude.  Not to mention where we keep supplies, how the alarm works, and when recess happens.  So many layers.  And the people.  The most important part.  Staff, teachers, parents, kids.  So many new layers of people.  And they watched me.  Closely.  Who is this new person?  What’s her plan?  Does she like me?

Consistent communication

I stuck to my tried and true systems of communication.  Weekly bulletin, Wednesday agenda (whether there’s a meeting or not) and as few emails to staff as possible.  Face to face is the first option.  To build confidence after a major change, people need to know where to find information, consistently.  Both of the above mention docs are one humongous google doc.  So it’s one stop shopping for all information.

My way of communicating… no gotchas, no secrets, finding a balance between too much and not enough information.  Tone, set up of the space, wait time, encouragement, listening and sharing… such an art.  I strive to be the leader I needed as a teacher.

Available, visible, approachable

“Open door policy” doesn’t have anything to do with the position of your office door.  I read that on Twitter recently (sorry, no attribution).  It’s an attitude.  “Do you have a minute?” or “Sorry to bother you” are phrases that I dislike.  I always have a minute and people are never bothering me.  It’s my job.  People are the most important thing on a school campus.  It’s what I do.  Parent concerns, student learning, teacher needs, support staff questions… I always have a minute and no, you’re never a bother.  What can I do for you?

Painted in Waterlogue

Being around campus, in classrooms, at recess, at drop off & breakfast… it’s important to be seen and available.  And by being out and about so much, my new Viking family can get to know me, how I operate, what I value.  And I hope through these interactions, they know I care about my new school, I’m invested and ready to work along side them.

Not without Challenges

The adjustment has been tough.  I already see this year as such an opportunity that I wasn’t even aware of as I moved through it.  Luckily there are people above me who knew this was the nudge I needed.  A nudge out of the nest that was my former school.

Emotionally taxing, physically demanding and intellectually challenging.  How could you not grow from all that?  My work/life balance is better (weekend beach walks, blog posts that sit in drafts, time with my family).  Humor often saves the day.  If you can’t laugh at the crazy pace of an elementary school, you need to find a new line of work.  Exercise still eludes me.  It’s now a summer goal with the idea that whatever I start could be maintained during school.  And I rest my mind more.  I joke that my work is also my hobby.  True statement.  But it’s intellectually taxing to read about leadership and live leadership, to read blogs about education and live education.  So now I’ve developed other reading lists, started playing Clash of Clans (nothing like a video game to tune things out) and set a time when work email is off limits.  Give my busy mind a break.

Challenges as opportunities for growth.  I’m in.  And once summer rolls around, I’ll be ready to tackle What I would have done differently.  And Plans for next year.  For now, time to step away.  Hit publish and the hang with the fam.