Everything I Know About Parenting I Learned While Being a Teacher

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood…except teaching. Teaching totally prepares you for having children. I babysat through my teen years, worked at a daycare in college, taught elementary school and taught movement/gymnastics/dance/yoga to babies and preschoolers. I loved those jobs and always felt I was learning a lot, but holy cow, I did not realize just how much they taught me until having Luna.

Here’s my Top Ten Ways Being a Teacher Prepared Me for Parenthood.

  1. I have absolutely no problem looking a fool in public. I cannot tell you how many times I left work (school) wearing stickers on my shirt, pipe cleaner jewelry, flowers in my hair, paint on my face, a costume, random stains, name tags and tacky holiday accessories. There were many times when I wondered why the store clerk or Starbuck’s barista was starting oddly at me, only to look in the mirror in find I was still wearing a Dr. Seuss hat or necklace made of yarn and candy wrappers. Clearly, a little spit-up or mashed carrots on my shirt now is nothing. dry eraser
  2. I am not afraid of germs or getting a little (or a lot) dirty. Throughout my teaching career I had to deal with blood, vomit, urine and one kid even pooped under his desk. Kids let entire bottles of glue leak in their desk, dumped glitter containers out, rubbed entire tubes of chapstick all over their face and somehow always managed to have sticky hands. I cannot tell you how many kids I watch pick and eat their boogers and I know 90% of them didn’t wash their hands, like ever. They also wanted to hold my hands, hug me and share food with me constantly. I tried to be as sanitary as possible, but we all know teachers are just one big walking germ. Luna is just one child and she’s my child, so her germs are the least of my worries.
  3. I am an awesome multi-tasker. In my classroom I lead a reading group, corrected a math paper, kept on eye on the trouble maker near my computer and the other eye on the little girl about to give herself a haircut. At any given moment every single teacher is doing 15 things at once, and we all have eyes in the back of our heads. This comes in handy with a baby. classmate
  4. I’m crafty. I can create 20 center activities with $10 and a trip to the Dollar Store. I can make play costumes for an entire class in a matter of hours. I know how to put together a safe, easy and affordable science project that will not only be educational but memorable and I can turn one children’s book into a weeklong reading/social studies/math/writing lesson. I can entertain Luna with a spoon for hours.steal
  5. I can function really well on virtually no sleep (and a whole lot of coffee). Coffee is some sort of magical bean that makes us super human, am I right? One student called me Super Woman once, but it was really just me plus 8 cups of coffee.
  6. I can tune out just about anything. One time, Husband came to visit me at work (probably dropping off something I forgot). He stayed and visited for a minute and walked with us to recess. When I got home he said “How do you stand it?”  Stand What? “I was only there 15 minutes and I must have heard kids say your name at least 400 times! Everywhere we went someone was yelling for you, needing you or saying hi to you. It would drive me crazy.” Oh…guess I didn’t notice. At some point all teachers and Mothers develop selective hearing. This can be both good and bad when Luna is crying.
  7. If need be, I can get ready in the blink of an eye. Typically, I like to take my time doing my hair and putting my face on for work, but when you teach you cannot be late. There’s not such thing as showing up a few minutes late and working later to make up for your missed time. You have got to make it to your classroom before the 24 seven-year olds do. On more than a few occasions I have jumped out of bed after realizing I overslept by an hour, threw on a non-wrinkle cotton dress, some slip-on flats, grabbed a handful of jewelry and applied mascara and lip-gloss in the car.
  8. I can hold my pee for basically ever, which has already come in handy multiple times since having Luna.
  9. I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to children’s books and songs. Seriously, I have a song and a book for everything from compound words to patriotism. Luna has inherited my classroom library and, unfortunate for her, my endless singing about everything we do.clap
  10. I am oh-so patient with little ones. Not in traffic, not in the grocery store, not with Comcast, not with the pets, not even with the slow barista at Starbucks, but with children I’ve got all the patience in the world. I love watching their little wheels turn as they try so hard to solve a problem or understand what they’re reading. Watching that little light turn on when they discover something new is my most favorite thing.MIB

What prepared you for becoming a parent?

Cheers!

Why My Baby Hasn’t Ruined My Life

First flight!
First flight!

When we were pregnant we constantly heard negative comments and warnings from other parents (not all, but more than I expected). People loved telling us that our lives were basically over now that we were having children. Goodbye fun, no more adventure, adios traveling…none of this is allowed or possible once you have baby. Some of the more common phrases we heard were, “Good thing you got all your traveling out of the way before you had kids.” “Enjoy all your summer adventures now, this won’t be possible next summer.” “You know you have to stay home all the time once you have kids.” Every single comment sounded like a bad omen, like we just made a huge mistake, like I made a bad purchase and should exchange it or get a refund.

Luna's first time on a horse.
Luna’s first time on a horse.

I expected everyone to be happy and excited for us. I thought everyone would tell us how magical and rewarding it us to be a parent. The last thing I wanted to hear was “Beware! This is going to be so much harder than you ever imagined!” There are lots of reasons why these statements bothered me while I was pregnant, but after having Luna I am trying to understand what these parents were really saying.

First time in a swing.
First time in a swing.

I’m an optimistic, believe in the good in people, kind of person, so I don’t think these parents were trying to be harsh or that they do not love their kids. In fact, I’m sure they adore their children and even like being parents (most of the time). What I think, is that these parents may be, or perhaps were, going through a stressful time. I have to admit that as far as families and parenting goes, Husband and I have had it pretty easy so far (minus the whole me being sick thing). It’s true that we got to do so many things and see so many places before having children. That doesn’t keep us from wanting to keep traveling. On the contrary, it just makes us want to see more, However, we certainly don’t feel like we didn’t take advantage of our single kid-less life. We have no regrets, that’s for sure.

First swim.
First swim.

Also, I think that maybe, just maybe, we are slightly more adventurous than some of these well-meaning advisors. Maybe some of them didn’t do some of these wet-and-wild crazy antics before children, and therefore do not do them post-children. I don’t really know, but I do know having Luna has only added to the adventure in our lives.

First hike to a waterfall.
First hike to a waterfall.

We take her just about everywhere we go, and while it isn’t always easy, and certainly not faster, it has been very doable. We are pretty low-key people. We pack the essentials, carry backpacks, wear the baby and take her with us to show her how we like to enjoy life. So far, she’s been on a plane, hiking, to a waterfall, swimming, rock-climbing, on a boat, out to fancy dinners, played at parks, had a picnic, and lots more. I feed her when she’s hungry, she naps two-three times a day and is a really happy baby.

First trip to Cheekwood.
First trip to Cheekwood.

Sure, there are times when we have to cancel or reschedule (thanks teething!), but it doesn’t phase us. We decided to have kids because we wanted to be parents. We wanted this, and we know that parenting require some sacrifice, sacrifice we are more than willing to make. Even if we weren’t able to travel and have adventures, it wouldn’t matter. I can honestly say I love spending time with my baby. I enjoy feeding, changing, bathing and playing with her. Sometimes we just stare at her as she kicks her legs, rolls around and babbles to a stuffed animal. It’s somehow become more entertaining than anything on TV.

Her first boat ride.
Her first boat ride.

You know, now that I that I am writing this, I guess they were right… our lives are different. This summer is nothing like last summer. Regular day chores and events are more challenging and take longer to complete, but what they failed to mention is that it would all be worth it. They didn’t tell me how I’d grow to love someone more than I ever thought possible. They didn’t tell me that hearing a baby’s first laugh would be better than hearing a waterfall. No one said that feeling her fall asleep on my chest would be better than feeling the ocean water on my skin. I didn’t know that watching her grow would be our biggest adventure yet.

First rock-climbing trip.
First rock-climbing trip.

What I’m trying to say is, if you want kids, or if you find yourself in a surprise situation, do not let the fear of losing your pre-baby life takeover. Babies will live your life with you. If you love to travel, hike and climb, then your baby will love doing those things with you. If you love reading, painting and watching classic movies, baby will be loving it right at your side. That baby is going to make your life a hell of a lot happier. Yes, you will be busy, exhausted, stressed and covered in someone else’s bodily fluids, but it won’t matter. It’s all just part of the latest adventure.

First hike through the woods.
First hike through the woods.

Cheers!

P.S. We are currently planning our first international trip as a family of 3. Can’t decide where to go yet…any suggestions? Morocco? Australia? Chile? Spain??

New Friend Friday: Meet Dina!

Today, I get to introduce you to a former coworker/friend of mine! Her name is Dina and her blog is My Un-Entitled Life. We met 6 years ago while teaching 2nd grade together. We bonded over student disciplinary problems and our principal’s unrealistic expectations. She was a great teacher to work with (hilarious), but she has also been a stay-at-home Mom, ran her own website, been an expert in cloth diapering (I have so much to learn!) and is a great blogger.

She wrote a piece for us all about living with anxiety, because well..isn’t it obvious? Check out her thoughts on parenting with anxiety…

Dina and her adorable daughter
Dina and her adorable daughter

When you are an anxious person anxiety is just a part of life. It makes you who you are and you just have to deal with it and manage it daily. But make no mistake it affects every decision you make with your children. As a mom of 3 I’ve learned a lot about managing anxiety where my kids are concerned. It’s not easy but it can be done. Here’s some ways that anxiety affects my decision making process with children and how I’ve learned to manage it.

We were young. Just a mere 29 with a toddler and we were looking to purchase a new to us home. We looked at lots of houses. Probably about 60 which if you’re a real estate agent you know that is a LOT. See the problem is I can find fault with each and every house that I looked at when using my parenting eyes. This one has a pool so my child can drown so it’s out. This one sits too close to the interstate so if someone was to snatch my child they’d be out of here before even I knew it. And the list goes on and on. Thank goodness for my hubby’s level head. But even with all the what ifs that run through my head we finally were able to make a decision that we could both agree on. Yes. House bought let’s move on with our life.

Then my oldest started school while I was pregnant with my second. I always thought I would homeschool my child. But he so desired to go to school. So after much anguish and deliberation I enrolled him in public school thinking that would be ok and if it didn’t work out I could pull him out later. We had 1 year out of 4 at this school that was a good year. The other 3 years drove me and my son insane. Finally one of his teachers sat me down and said look at his scores. He’s smart. He’s bored. So after a year from heck we decided to let him test to be in a magnet school. He got in with flying colors and had a really hard first year in. More agonizing ensured. But then it got better and he’s now a junior in high school and simply flying now.

My second son started school at the same magnet school. There were constant problems and I was always trying to figure out what was going on. I had a sleep study done because he was so angry. He had a compulsive need to finish any sentence he started. He couldn’t help himself. After dealing with this for 5 years we finally got a diagnosis. He has ADD. He’s on meds and is doing so well now. I’m so proud of all he’s overcome. He’s a rock star in my eyes. But it was not an easy process on an anxious mama to get him here. There was much hand twisting as I tried mostly on my own to figure out what was going on. The teachers missed all the signs too. He’s not the typical ADD kid but maybe none of them are typical. Being a parent is the hardest job. But it’s so worthwhile. Managing my anxiety now takes on different forms then it used too. I am able to make it work though. It helps to have a hubby who doesn’t have this problem. He makes sound decisions in a snap and probably often looks at me in wonder as I agonize over the smallest decisions. Parenting is a team process and that is a management tool in and of itself. If you are about to become a parent never fear that you will not be good enough. You will be. You just have to keep telling your anxious self that!

Thank you so much Dina for sharing with us! Everyone be sure to see what else Dina has to say on life with 3 kids, frugal living, crafts, reviews and much more!

Cheers!