What always becomes difficult for me is the anxiety of getting back into work mode. I start out with good intentions and then fall quickly back into my old habits that ultimately lead to exhaustion, frustration, and burnout.
I have done some real intense soul searching the past eight months and I am committing myself to putting my family and my life at the forefront. As I begin my school year I have established some goals. I also recognize that it is entirely up to me whether I adhere to them, and I MUST actively make a decision to remain well. As a whole, speech-language pathologists go above and beyond. We do it, not for the glory, recognition, or big bucks, but because we are a gifted and generous group, a group I have great admiration for. What follows are my goals for the 2014-15 school year and I offer them with the knowledge that it has taken me 30 stinking years to get to this place! Those of you who aren't as "seasoned" as me, start now and you may prevent "grumpy old SLP syndrome."
- There will be times I need to stay late. I accept that as a professional, however, as a practice it is not healthy. I MUST leave at a reasonable hour. Eight o'clock on a regular basis is not a healthy practice!
- Dovetailing with leaving at a reasonable hour, is making sure we dine together as a family, at the table. No more take-out in front of the television. Not that that was a daily occurrence, but it happened enough where it became too easy. My daughter is a junior in high school, my son is a freshman. Before we know it they will be off creating their own lives (sniff, sniff) and we need to enjoy every minute with them.
- Schedule preparation periods and use them. Many of us are part of collective bargaining and our contracts specify a certain number of preparation periods. We do ourselves no good when we don't put them in our schedules or eliminate them as we acquire more and more students. Preparation periods are necessary for report writing, lesson planning, activity creation, supervision of SLPAs, phone calling, teacher consult, and on and on and on. I have to keep those times as sacred.
- Make time to get get out of my speech room. My speech room is lovely. Lunch is also lovely. I need to take my lunch, get out of my room and socialize with my friends for 30 minutes. Again, contracts often specify a duty free lunch. Take lunch and breathe!
- I have a little problem: I am in awe of all the talented SLPs out in the great big world! That's not really my problem. My problem is that they share amazing ideas and create a wealth of incredible products and I. WANT. THEM. ALL. I spend waaaaaaaayyyyyy too much money. This year I will set a dollar limit per month and not go beyond it. To all the TpT SLPs I follow, I won't forget you, I'm simply going to exercise restraint. Believe me when I say, this pains me!
- You may not believe this: sometimes I decide not to drink water because I don't think I have the time for the inevitable result! WHAT? Drink plenty of water, regardless of the time it takes for a potty break. If I don't have time for that, the thing that needs to change is not my water consumption, sheesh!!
- I have enough materials to supply several schools (and yes, I own 80% of them). This year I have decided to end the materials madness and purchase subscriptions rather than hard goods. That includes continuing my subscriptions to Therasimplicity, vocabulary A-Z, and lesson pix. They are great investments.
- Sleep, wonderful, glorious sleep. I need it. Lots of it and I plan on making sure I get it. I have to be careful of the book I just can't put down or the desire to watch some mindless television. Enough said!
- In leaving work at a decent time I will allow myself time for my "favorite" thing: EXERCISE (not!). Despite my apparent dislike of exercise it is crucial not only for my health, but for my well-being. I need to exercise everyday in order to stay sane (relatively speaking;-).
- I always try to stay on the cutting edge. I also want to provide my students with motivating and effective treatment. Sometimes I forget I don't need to reinvent the wheel. Simple can be awesome. My planning has to reflect that less can be more. I have only to look to our creative and brilliant SLP community to find fun and engaging activities that don't require mega hours of prep or money. I truly admire Lia Mantel Krief of TalkInTime for her clever and simple activities that get to the heart of therapy. I plan on following her lead in easing my prep time and effort without sacrificing effectiveness.
- Now for my mental preparedness! I will strive to remember that what is said by other people is always a reflection of them and has absolutely nothing to do with me. I erroneously believed that what others said was because I wasn't liked, or smart enough, or competent enough. NOT TRUE! Remember that!!
- Finally, I will remember who I am. I am a highly trained speech-language pathologist with extensive and diverse experience. I am the wife of a man who loves me and cares for me. I am the mother of two magnificent, kind, and loving teenagers. I am a friend to those who know me and to those that don't. I am a woman with a story that needs to be embraced. I am a daughter of the King of Heaven. What more could I ask for?
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