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.