teacherpreneurs: finding balance and my goals for 2016 | Teaching in the Tongass

Friday, January 1, 2016

teacherpreneurs: finding balance and my goals for 2016



Confession: this post has been sitting in my "Drafts" for a VERY long time. Irony is neat, right?

Warning: this is not a "how to balance it all" post. It's more of a journal about how I am struggling to balance it all, so please don't be upset that I don't have some awesome tips here for you...

Okay, so if you're a teacherpreneur, chances are you struggle with finding balance with your business/home/school life like a regular person. Hey--me too!  You probably see awesome blog posts from your favorite bloggers, innovative and creative products from other TpT stores, your neighbor teacher is killin' it with her students this year (yours are too, you probably just have "grass is greener" syndrome), and you're thinking, "HOW?!" I don't have it all figured out myself, but I'll go into a little detail about my own life and what people have asked me about how I manage to balance it all.

First of all, the honest to goodness truth is that a.) stop comparing yourself and b.) you aren't seeing behind the curtain. Let me explain.

That beautifully photographed, blurry bokeh background photo of children working on a handcrafted Halloween center with orange painted lima beans that look like little pumpkins is STAGED. Yep. I do it and so do most other teacherpreneurs. This is the reality, and it's about time you quit thinking, "My kids will never sit that still so I can take a photo of them working." When I take photos, I push out the "unwanted items" (read: CLUTTER--chewed on pencils, water bottle, a rubberband--wait, where did you get that rubberband?! Go put that on my desk, now please.") and sometimes ask the kid to "freeze" so it's not blurry.  It takes days or weeks to finish a blog post. I don't push it out in a day or I might miss something that comes to me later (it's a process, trust me). So what seems like a quick post with beautiful photos and great ideas that were all just whipped together, in reality it took longer than most people imagine. So, there's the deep down dirty secret to making it look like blogging is easy--it's not :) If you're thinking about starting a blog, that little tidbit might be helpful.

TpT products and balance. Hmmm...where to begin. It's an addiction, right? Here's a true story about what happened to me recently. I made some clipart, decided to Periscope about the clipart and how to use it effectively, then decided I'd better write a blog post so anyone that doesn't Periscope could see it as well, oh but I need an example of how to use it in a teacher resource as well, so I'll just make a teacher resource with my clipart....5 hours later...I'm taking photos of a product I made on my living room floor (staged of course because it's 5 p.m. on a Sunday and my house is a disaster) and uploading it nearly 12 hours after my original plan to just Periscope about the clipart. YEESH. Like I said, addiction. Spiraling out. Of. Control. Sound familiar or am I the only one?  So what you see is a new product, complete with fun clipart and engaging math, with photos and directions and the works. What you don't see is technology struggles (why does my internet randomly stop working?!), my printer ink needing to be changed mid-printing (a visit to the store because I haven't signed up for HP insta ink), feeding a baby a bottle when he woke up, going outside in the dark (I had a giant flashlight and was ready to swat a bear if I needed to) and the pouring down rain to the outdoor shed behind our house where my teaching stuff is being stored just so I can locate one of those clear game spinners (and rummaging in there for about 10 minutes just to find it). And that's about how it goes every. Single. Time. It's real life, and I throw a pretty magic curtain over the messy parts because honestly, who wants to see my crumbs on the floor?

As for balance? I honestly don't think it exists. For me, it's a constant see-saw in various areas of my life. Sometimes I will be an excellent mom and play with my kids all day until I can't look at another matchbox car again and even go grocery shopping and pick up that birthday present for the upcoming party we're going to. Sometimes I finish 2 new products in one week and answer all emails and make time to read blogs and comment on IG posts. Sometimes I watch an entire movie with my husband and we have meaningful conversations about our hopes and dreams and I remember to ask about his day at work and listen with my whole heart. BUT, and this is a big one, MOST OF THE TIME, when I'm succeeding at one of those areas, I'm failing miserably at the rest. Does this happen to anyone else? I am certainly not a big seller, but if I'm being honest, I hope I can turn this full time hobby into an actual career, but not at the expense of missing out on the every day moments with my kids. I worry that they'll only have memories of me being too busy working most of the time, so I need to refocus and remind myself that they're only young once and that life is just too precious to work it away. My laundry-house-chores-clipart-email-advertising-blogging-collaborating-teaching resource list needs to be second to my family. So, when I started to think of New Year's teacherpreneur goals in 2016, my business goal is not to reach a milestone or gain followers or feedback or blog a certain amount, but to take a step back when things get too busy and remind myself what life is all about. When I'm old and grey, I want my family to picture me laughing, smiling and having fun, and not behind a computer screen.
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14 comments

  1. Thank you for writing what we are all feeling each and every day! The struggle is real! We all need reminders every once in a while to stop and look around!

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  2. LOVE this post!! The last paragraph is especially true! I often worry that my little man is going to just see his mama from behind a computer screen. :( However, I also think it's important for him to see that I work. Balance, balance, balance... :) Good luck to both of us in 2016 as we try to make a go of this teacherpreneur business while also being full-time mamas!
    ~Heather aka HoJo~

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  3. I love your honesty! It is a struggle and I'm trying to figure out the balance while continually reminding myself why I'm choosing to be home with my kids...they'll be little for only a short time. Your posts are also quite humorous! :) Lidia

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  4. You raise such valid point and emphasis on the appropriate work-life balance.

    The reality of entrepreneurship is that is does impact everybody associated with the entrepreneur. In the case of edupreneurs that are practitioners in the classroom, there is not much time during a work day to work on a business, which requires evenings and weekends. It is a sacrifice that must occur to truly build a viable, sustainable business.

    However, it does not have to come at the cost of alienating and eroding family, friends, and current career. That work-life balance will vary for each edupreneur.

    I've found that creating a mission statement for my business and a mission statement for my family keep me focused and operating more strategically. The mission statement should be written down, communicated to family members, and reviewed often to measure progress. In some cases, adjustments may need to be made. That feedback loop and cycle of continuous improvement is critical in our teaching environments, business ventures, and family life.

    Good luck all and keep up the hard work as edupreneurs and family members!

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  5. There is so much truth in this post! I think the biggest mistake we make is thinking we can give 100% to all the different things in our lives, but in reality something will always be getting less. I think what we need to focus on is not balancing it, but being okay with that fact life is unbalanced. We need to live in the moment whether it's with our families, or classroom, or business. Quality over Quantity!

    Rachel
    A Tall Drink of Water

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  6. Love this post, Jen! My word for this year is "balance" because I too often feel what you depicted in your blog post. My hope for this year is that I can *find* balance when I'm feeling overwhelmed, not good enough, overloaded, etc. Thanks for the honesty and letting the rest of us know that we're not alone!

    Tiffany @ The Learning Effect

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  7. As a very new newbie, I am trying to figure out how big sellers made it to where they are. The amount of work in creating products is amazing, the knowledge of social media needed is daunting, and I am super glad to hear a more experienced seller laying it all out there in raw, honest form. I hear fellow teachers say, "Look at how much they are selling. I'm going to do that!" and think to myself- go ahead. Wait till you see how hard it is. Thank you for this post. It made me feel so much better about the journey I am beginning, not so gracefully!

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  8. Love this post!!! I agree 100% thank you for this!

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  9. Great post Jen! You inspire me to create, be motivated, yet be balanced. Great way to avoid burnout!
    Sebrina
    Burke's Special Kids

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  10. Great post! We have all been there or should say are there!! I have have about three different drafts in my blog feed right now that are unfinished. I have four different products I am working on and have been for a few months now. I haven't even attempted periscope because of the simple fact I can't do it all!! I am glad to know that I am not the only one out there!

    Jamie
    Teaching Tidbits and More with Jamie

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  11. My fears and thoughts. Thank you. When it has to go on the back burner...it has to go on the back burner.
    Em
    Curious firsties

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  12. Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh you are sooooooooooo not the only one! Sometimes I think balance is the actual motion of see sawing back and forth. ;) I've gotten better lately because I've cut out a lot and lowered my expectations and been more realistic about how much I CAN actually do, but it's still a crazy, messy work in progress.

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  13. I love your descriptions of getting a blog post together. I'm a new blogger this year and am so glad it is not just me, but there is just always too much to do. How you manage it with young kids, I don't know. Thanks for sharing the reality.

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