When summer break officially ended for me, a teacher, and my kids a few weeks ago, it got me thinking about the similarities and differences between teaching and parenting. Here are my Top 5 similarities:
1. You can’t use the bathroom when you want.
In school your schedule is regimented by bells. There are bells in your sleep. When you have a classroom full if students, you can’t just leave them when nature calls. Likewise, when you have young children, you can’t always just drop what you are doing and visit the little boys room. Such is life. The difference? While you can’t visit the restroom anytime you want at school, at least you are able to do that alone.
2. You find yourself repeating the same phrases.
The humorous take on this is simple. Coincidentally, I find myself repeating the same phrases with my middle schoolers that I do with my own children.:
“Keep your hands to yourself.”
“Please stop talking.”
“Walk. Walk. WALK!”
You know. The usual. Kids need reinforcement and reminders. Sometimes it would be beneficial to tape record myself with those phrases. I might do that next summer.
3. You gotta plan.
Whether it is an outing for the kids or a lesson for students, if you don’t have a plan something gets forgotten. However, sometimes even the best plans fall apart – which leads us to the next similarity…
4. You have to be flexible.
I’m not talking muscles here – although flexing those can help you relax. Things happen. Fire drills, bad weather, early naps, closed facilities. Whether it is your students or your child, you have to find the flexibility to adapt to whatever circumstances come your way. Flexibility allows you to salvage the good when the bad comes to visit. Is it a challenge? Yes, but flexibility actually allows you to save your sanity.
5. Teaching and parenting are rewarding.
There are days that just stink. Awful days when you are tired, frustrated and it seems that nothing is going your way. Those are the days you need to remember why you are doing what you’re doing. I have a file at school. It’s my “Happy” file. Notes I have gotten from parents, students and colleagues go in there. Those are my reminders. My silver linings. I have a blog, pictures, art to remind me of all the pleasant memories with my family. Rough days? That’s where I head. The rewards are “tangible,” but they are abundant. And they make each day worth it.
Editor’s Note: A version of this Teaching article appeared on Tales from the Poop Deck.