Outside Stress

Post date: Jan 26, 2018 7:42:06 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a Tweet asking the educational Twitterverse about managing stress in the classroom. I was thrilled that the Tweet got picked up by Edutopia, and a gaggle of their followers responded with their suggestions. I figured now was the time to take a moment and reflect on these past couple of weeks so that I can evaluate where I am and where I am headed.

Since I have been teaching in Escondido, I have been living at my parents' house along with my wife and my son. They have since moved out of town and we were living there to keep an eye on the home they were attempting to sell. Well, in December, a gentleman put in an offer on the house, my parents swiftly countered, and the gentleman accepted. I was excited for my family, but I learned that in the span of a month, I would need to find a new place for my family to live.

And so we set off looking at homes, specifically in Orange County. We have always had our hearts set on moving there, but we didn't expect to need to look so soon. I'm still not positive how we managed it, but we found a home that met all of our needs in the most ideal ways possible. We were thrilled.

That's when the stress kicked in. As anyone who has purchased a home knows, the process as a whole is quite the headache. Constantly running through numbers and scenarios, and thinking about the things we would need for our new home gave us a new thing to worry about each and every night.

On top of all of that, Orange County is quite a ways away from Escondido. (About an hour and fifteen minutes if traffic is on your side.) The commute didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, so we created a plan. I would move in with my dad – the only family I have left in the area – during the week and make my way up to Orange County on weekends, where my wife and son would move full time. You heard that right: I would only see my wife and son for about 48 hours per week. Not fun.

But these are necessary sacrifices in our minds. As hard as they may seem, we know that in the end it's what's best for our family. Still, lingering questions remain. How will I manage this sudden displacement? Will I be able to find a new job once I relocate to Orange County? How will this move affect the relationships with my friends, colleagues, and students?

The valuable responses I got from Twitter were ones that I really took to heart. The biggest takeaway for me: make time for myself. The more I try to go through the motions as if nothing as changed may only be to my detriment. This weekend is the first weekend I will be traveling up to Orange County to see my wife and son. I decided to take Monday off from school as well to extend this time and help transition to this new, temporary way of living.

Also important in this process has been remaining open with my students. More so than many adults, my kids know when something isn't right in my world, and I don't think it's right to hide that from them. Ever since I shared with them what has been going on, they have been nothing but supportive. They regularly check in with me and ask how I'm doing. Knowing that they are sensitive to the difficulties in my life makes me much more comfortable in class, and as a result, does not seem to negatively impact my pedagogy.

The weeks and months ahead are going to be insanely difficult for me. I have never felt empty with the departure of my family, but these strategies will (hopefully) see me through to June 1.