Sustain the Sparkle
When I was a student in school, my mom always taught me that in order to succeed in life, lay out your outfit for the day the night before. And as a brick and mortar teacher, I continued preparing at night for the day ahead; indeed, I found this process helped me to get out of the door in the morning looking and feeling great and ready to take on the world. I would start with my shoes. Then, add in a skirt or dress and finally make a decision about jewelry. I loved to sparkle from head to toe. In truth, I needed the ritual to make it to work on time or else I would spend way too long trying on different outfit/jewelry combinations. Other rituals were also built into my daily routine, like packing my lunch, starting a load of laundry, laying out my sundry teaching materials in a bag by the door and, of course, remembering to put my classroom keys by the door!( Oh, I had some bad days when I could not find my keys!) The routines continued when I walked into my classroom: check email, set out materials…you get the picture!
Now, as a virtual teacher, I don’t have to mess with remembering keys, thank goodness, but I’ve discovered some insights about my ritual and routine that makes my virtual day a wonderful experience!
I spent the first few months of teaching online still working, approximately, the hours of 8-5pm. While some habits just die hard, other new habits were seemingly luxurious and easy to change, like getting dressed in the morning. I would lie in bed for a while before getting up, and then I would walk over to my laptop, which I kept on the couch, still dressed in PJ’s. I knew I had found my path in life! I told everyone I knew, “I go to work in my PJ’s! It’s the best school ever!” I wore PJ’s like a badge of honor. Slowly, work and life started to pile up.
One day my husband (Hubs) came home from work, he is a US Naval officer (more on why military families and the International Academy are a perfect fit in a later post), exhausted from a hard day’s work he threw down his hat (they call them “covers” but really they are just hats with bling) and it landed in a HUGE pile of unfolded clean laundry on our bedroom floor. Hubs and I made an agreement before we got married that if we were both working full-time, he would do the dishes (which he does faithfully) and I would do the laundry (which I was having a major problem keeping up with).
The laundry was not the only problem. The floors were not swept, the mail had piled up and I could never seem to find the time to play with my daughter who was constantly at my side anytime the computer was on. Worst of all, I could never seem to finish my school day. Just like the laundry, there was a giant pile of emails, attendance that needed logging and class connects that were not yet planned. I had a major issue.
Next thing you know, I’m sobbing to my mom and she says valiantly, “Hire cleaners! Sweetie, you work full-time and you’re a full-time mom–you deserve it!” Ahhhh. Hearing the word deserved sounded like music to my ears. I did deserve cleaners. I needed to finish my school day–and cleaners were my solution! They would help me afford to finish my work. So, I jumped on AngiesList and found the best (and most expensive) in the area. The next day, I left the house for an hour to work at Starbucks and, like a fairy godmother had waved her wand, I returned to a sparkling home! My problem was solved!
Wrong. Sustaining the sparkle was difficult and extremely costly. So again, “Mom, what do I do?” Again, like my white knight, she said, “Hire cheaper cleaners.” Ahhh. Right, that’s what I needed!
Wrong. Sustaining the sparkle with cheaper cleaners lasted all of about two weeks when I (in yet another conversation with my mom) determined that “sparkle factor” was not the issue and my fairy-godmother was not a cleaning company. My routine was!
I was becoming a slob at work and at home, and no cleaning company can get rid of the clutter in your life.
Because I needed to start somewhere, I made lists! Lists are like fairy godmothers! I started with two lists, laundry and email. Tackle the biggest issues first. Darks on Monday, towels Tuesday, whites, Wednesday, etc. And for email, I started with that day’s new emails and worked backwards for 30 min every morning until the inbox was cleaned out and the routine was established! This quickly morphed into a need to start the laundry in the morning, then attacking my e-mail. All of this led right back to getting dressed as soon as my feet hit the floor from bed with a pre-chosen outfit!
I had come full circle. Back to the process I remember from my time teaching in the brick and mortar schools, back to the lessons that my wonderful real mother taught me so many years ago when I was a student in school (both homeschool and brick and mortar school). Routine helps you sustain the sparkle. And this time around, I’m always excited to begin each morning with the clothes I’ve laid out the night before.
For more tips on how to better organize click here!