It's the weekend of Mother's Day here in the US, and across the country, we'll be celebrating mothers and mother figures, with flowers and candles and efforts to give Mom a day to herself, for self-care and relaxation. For rest. There's probably some good conversation to be had about whether we need to encourage that just one day a year, or if we might need to change some things systemically and individually to live more balanced lives. In the meantime, Happy Mother's Day.
There are a number of overlaps between the things our culture expects of mothers and the things we expect of teachers: the giving nature, the self-sacrifice, the humility. But also: the exhaustion, the lack of appreciation, the demands placed upon that interfere with the care for oneself.
We are afraid to slow down long enough to rest, in fear that there may be someone who needs us in the meantime. But when we listen to our spirit's need for rest, we are not only serving our own spirits. We are modeling for the children healthy expectations of oneself and norms for their own care. We worry so much about what we have to accomplish each day that we maintain a pace that we would never expect of the children. We know they need to cycle between challenging work and rest, between the things that stretch them and the mastered skills that offer them comfort... what makes us think we need any less?
For the children, we know that we need sometimes to step in and suggest that they take a moment, that they find a quiet spot to restore. As adults, we hope that we'll be attentive to our own needs. That's a hard standard to maintain. If you're not able yet to notice your own need for rest and restoration, raise the need with your colleagues. Be each other's accountability partners for self-care. Ask, "What have you done for your own spirit today?" Ask, "Have you rested yet today?" Ask, "What do you need to feel full?" Do this for each other until the process of doing it for yourself becomes a habit, just as you allow children to repeat and repeat and repeat until they are able to notice their own needs.
It's ok to rest.
It's more than ok.
It's essential, for you and for the children.
1. Find an accountability partner for your own self-care, just as you'd want for the children.
2. Shut off your own phone and laptop, just as you'd want for the children.
3. Change your diet to reduce the chemicals that make it harder to sleep, like sugar and caffeine, just as you'd want for the children.
4. Establish a ritual for bedtime, just as you'd want for the children.
5. Protect your 8.5 - 10 hours per night, just as you'd want for the children.
Rest, just as you'd want for the children.