I seethed as I listened to my son list the amount of school work he needed to complete before Monday.
“Tell me again,” I said. “Was this work you were supposed to do during the week?”
“No, mom,” he assured me with a look of anguish. “This was assigned for the weekend.”
For the weekend.
I thought about how just one week before, I sat in a faculty meeting listening as our principal talked about his need for down time.
“I’d appreciate if you all didn’t send emails and/or texts during the weekend,” he reprimanded with an annoyed tone. “We all need time to breathe. Our lives should not revolve around a job. Our lives should be about our families, our home, God.”
As I recalled that “sermon,” I grew angry. Why was my child’s time not as important as his?
Do our children not deserve the same amount of down time we get?
Is his relationship to home, family and God not just as important?
It was then and there that I fired off an email I don’t regret:
“To Whom It May Concern,” I began. “Our children will no longer be participating in nightly or weekend work.”
Because I’m a teacher at the school my children attend, I received more than a few looks the next day, but I didn’t care.
I’d long ago stopped giving my own students homework. Why?
For starters, they’re at school for 8-9 hours a day. Most of them leave school and head straight to some kind of practice, whether for sports, music, or both.
When they get home, they need to eat. They need to shower and spend time watching television with family or reading a good book of their choice. They need to text friends that they didn’t get to have a decent conversation with throughout the day because they were driven to be doing, going and being.
What they don’t need is more school work.
I’m an adult, and when I get home from work, I want work to be over. Even so, I have house chores to complete and so do my children. I want them to participate in helping out around the house. If they’re given homework, their entire day is now revolving around a single focus.
What are we teaching them?
I’ve decided to reclaim my family time.
I made out a list of boundaries, and I have to tell you, it was absolutely freeing.
Here is where I started with my working boundary list:
What kind of life am I trying to achieve? What am I hoping to gain?
I want to have peace. I want to have a clean, beautiful home. I want a well-kept yard, a good dinner, and time with my family spent laughing and revisiting the day.
None of that will happen if my life revolves around my career 24/7. The same goes for my children.
How do I want to spend my time? How will I parse my schedule?
I decided that during my work hours, I will go all in. During the time I’m at school, my day will be about school.
I will allow myself two exceptions: during break and lunch. That will be my time, and unless it’s absolutely necessary, I will give it to myself with no guilt.
When I am done with school, I am done with school.
The minute I get into my car, school is done and my home life begins. I have no guilt splitting the two and no stress worrying about a divided mind.
3. Work and Chores
Getting to the nitty gritty of my schedule has helped tremendously with not feeling guilty.
I set my work goals every morning and I decide what chores I’ll do when I get home.
I get busy doing the things I need to be doing, so that I can do the things I want to be doing.
My children set the same goals for themselves. They figure out what work needs to be done at school and what chores will be completed before or after practice.
We can’t just worry about work and chores. We must also worry about resting.
Rest doesn’t only apply to your sleeping. You must find periods of rest in your waking hours as well.
I’ve found that my life functions a lot like the seasons.
In late fall, winter and early spring, I’m reflective. I tend to think more about where I am and where I’m going.
In late spring, summer and early fall, I’m project-oriented. I want to thrive, accomplish, and win.
Likewise, I’m more reflective on weekends and Mondays. Tuesday through Friday I get my best work done.
Morning and evening also are different. I’m much more eager to rise and work. At night, I’m ready to rest and relax.
When I figured out what I wanted, I was able to set clear boundaries for my family. In addition to no homework, I also don’t take work-related emails or phone calls.
I’ve also grown better at respecting my coworkers’ boundaries. None of us is perfect, but we’re doing better.
My child has had some outside work, too, but he now knows it’s okay to say no.
For anyone who disagrees with my no homework policy, I’ll leave you with a final thought.
This child, the one with too much work. I’ll be honest, school really isn’t his thing.
He makes good grades and he’s a good kid. But I’ll never forget a profound question he asked me out of the blue one day when we were heading to school.
“Mama, do you think God is mad at us?”
I didn’t have a clue what he was asking so I told him to explain.
“We put children in buildings all day behind desks. We aren’t outside in the trees or looking at the sky. Will he be mad?”
Wow. I can’t tell you how much I’ve thought about that since he asked.
From the mouths of babes. Makes you think.
How do you achieve balance in your work and home life? I’d love to hear from you.