We started a series called “A Teacher’s Perspective” to share the thoughts of our TPK team with you. This week, Jessie Mallett has written about her journey as a teacher and a mom. She teaches our 2 1/2’s class, the youngest group in our school.
How Being A Teacher Is Making Me A Better Mom
I began my TPK journey as a mom in 2015 when my daughter was 3 years old. Two years later, I joined TPK as a teacher. Being a teacher has had such a positive impact on me as a mom. I have learned a lot about my kids as a result of interacting with other people’s children.
First, I have learned that our kids are so much more capable than we give them credit. If my 2 ½ year old students can clean up after themselves, then my 7-year-old certainly can. As moms, we can be very quick to step in and do everything for our kids. Sometimes we do it because we think they can’t, and sometimes we do it because let’s face it, it’s easier to just do it ourselves. I think though that if we look at the big picture, if we take the time to teach them how to do something, and trust them to do it, they often can. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to raise good kids, I’m trying to raise good adults.
I have also learned that the flip side of that coin is that I need to manage my expectations. I can’t assume that just because something is obvious to me that it will also be obvious to my 4-year-old. I didn’t wake up one day magically knowing the alphabet, someone taught me. If I want my kids to clean up, I need to give them very clear directions about my expectations. What exactly does “clean up this mess” mean? To my children, it usually means “make a bigger mess”, but “put the legos in the lego bin and the magnatiles in the magnatile bin” gives clear directions that they can understand and follow.
Something that seems so simple but is probably the thing I struggle with the most as a mom, is to breathe. It seems so easy and obvious, and almost patronizing, “of course I breathe, Jessie, jeez!”, but it really does work. When we have ample oxygen in our brains, we think better, and we react more calmly. In every volatile situation, one of us must stay calm, and as much as I wish it was my toddler who would stay calm, the reality is, it will probably have to be me.
A crucial lesson that I have learned is to be flexible. Sometimes a task that I think will take 5 minutes will take 20, and sometimes a task that I hope will last an hour will only entertain them for 5 minutes. It’s important to recognize that that’s ok, and we can adjust and change it up. I do not have to “win” every interaction with my children. My day will not be ruined because my daughter doesn’t want to wear the cute outfit, I picked for her, and instead wants to rock in butterfly pants and a rainbow tutu. Besides, one day I will have the pictures to hold over her.
As I continue down this path of teacher and mom, I look forward to all the ways that your children will continue to help me raise mine and I hope that I will have a lasting impact on your children as well.