Professional Development Opinion

Balancing Parenting and Educator Responsibilities

By Starr Sackstein — January 05, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The struggle is real.

In the 15 years I’ve been an educator, 11 of them I have also been a parent.

In the earliest part of my career, I got to work at literally the crack of dawn and stayed until after dusk. Working tirelessly to put together what I felt was the most engaging lessons I was capable of at the time.

Since I felt I knew so little and didn’t want that discovered, I worked so hard to appear like I knew everything.

I never slept.

My students came first. Even my relationships took a back seat to my burgeoning career.

When I had my son in late 2005, I began to struggle with balance (since I was never good at it to begin with).

Having a child is a tremendous gift. Until I was a mom, however, I didn’t realize how much it would impact my life. Sort of the same way I didn’t realize I wanted to be a teacher until I was. With both experiences, once they happened, I knew there was nothing else for me.

Because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t know until she tries, risks are often taken and they often fail.

I’m an epic failure at balance.

Earnestly I try to please everyone but always end up coming up short. As my son is getting older and my career is becoming more refined, I struggle even more.

For goodness sake, this was the part that was supposed to get easier! That’s what everyone told me at least. Being a teacher gets easier with time. I guess the teaching part has gotten easier, but my life has gotten more complicated.

Now that my son is 11 and at that pre-teen adolescent phase, things are changing. He needs me in different ways than he did when he was a baby. Additionally, my career, kind of a second baby needs me too to nurture it so it grows.

Taking this new job was a risk. I love the people I work with and I have settled into my role. As time has gone on, some things have grown much easier, BUT locationally I’m at a huge disadvantage. Living over an hour away has created several unforeseen situations that complicate matters.

So I find myself at another crossroads, trying to make decisions that are good for everyone, but trying to do it in a responsible way.

I’ve worked with adolescents for my entire career, but having one of my own turns out is very different. Too often I feel like a failure as a parent, so much so I took refuge in my teaching; at least I am good at that.

My son is my absolute favorite person in the world and he deserves my love and attention more than anyone else, but I also love my career. How can I possibly be a great and present mom when my son needs me AND also be available to my school and the larger educational community when they need me?

What I struggle most with is knowing when to switch hats. When is it okay to put me first? When is it necessary to put my son first and how can I provide for both teachers and students when they need help too?

In order to make more time for my son, I’ve slowed down some of my social media engagement for the time being so I can be really present at home. I try to stay off the computer as much as possible while I’m with my son, cramming in as much work as possible during the school day and after my son goes to bed.

Frankly, I’m exhausted.

Although I may make a lot of things look easy... let me assure you, they aren’t. Everyone needs help from time to time and now I’m at that place.

What’s the best advice you can offer a single mom of an adolescent who also loves her burgeoning career? How do you successfully balance both without guilt? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.