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Life/Work Balance – Helping Parents Maintain their Equilibrium

by Early Math Counts

Work life balanceFinding a balance between one’s work life, one’s home life, one’s role as a parent, one’s role as a partner, and one’s role as a family member is really hard to do even in the absolute best circumstances.  Parents of young children often find that they are compromising on everything that is important to them, unable to find that delicate balance where everyone and everything gets attended to.

As Early Math Counts looks at balance as a mathematical concept for young children this month, it is important to remember that teachers of young children need to find balance in their own lives while supporting our parents as they seek to find balance in their own.

One of the ways we can do this is by modeling balanced behavior.  Our classrooms do not need to be rushed, pushed, ruled by time limits, or pressure.  Children’s play should be open-ended and free.  The other day I was observing at a very nice center, but the feeling in the classroom was that they were just trying to do too much.  There were two teacher-directed, product-focused art activities going on simultaneously and I could feel the tension as the teachers were determined to get these projects done on that day.  Both projects were Thanksgiving-themed and when I asked about them, the teachers said that their parents expect the children to come home with Thanksgiving centerpieces and other art projects that will decorate their holiday tables.

I say, “Just Stop.”  It may take a few rounds of holidays to get the parents used to it, but they will eventually appreciate your efforts at keeping their children’s days consistent and free from unnecessary pressure to produce. Your classroom can be an island of calm during frenetic times.  This is a good thing.

We can also model balance by ensuring that the children’s daily schedule is evenly divided into appropriate chunks with the vast majority spent in free play (both indoors and outdoors).  If children spend their days playing hard, they will go home sufficiently tired and well-spent, ready for dinner, bath, and bed.  Children who spend their days in large groups with pressurized expectations will go home strung out and in need of play.  You can help ease up parent evenings by appropriately exhausting their children via big and wonderful play.

Next Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, so there will not be a post.  However, I will continue exploring Work-Life Balance on the following Friday by offering more suggestions on how to support families as they navigate these wonderfully difficult years.

5 Replies to “Life/Work Balance – Helping Parents Maintain their Equilibrium”

  1. I need help finding balance and peace for me. I tend to get upset more lately with small things. In a home daycare when you have kids you watch from birth, they tend to start not listening the older you get and ignoring you. Any tips?

    1. Hi Susan- Are you taking time for yourself? I know that it is hard, but you need to make sure that you do this regularly. Last year, when I realized that I didn\’t have 5 minutes to myself in the day, I decided to get up one hour earlier for the express purpose of having one hour to myself.

      1 hour for me- 23 for everyone else.

      Are the children not listening to you, or are they challenging your rules? We want children to challenge the rules and boundaries so they can be sure that they exist and so they can explore cause and effect, etc. If they are not listening to you, and you think this is a trend, not just an isolated incident or one child, then it is time to rethink how you are communicating. If you are a \”big talker\” try to trim it back. If you are \”loud\” then get quiet. Talk to the children about how you are interpreting the behavior, \”I feel like some kids are not really listening to me and it hurts my feelings and worries me.\” See if you can brainstorm a list with them about why they may not be listening and ways that will encourage them to listen. Find out how they feel when they think they are being ignored and equate those feelings with your own.

      Let us know how the above suggestions go. The beautiful thing is there is always another path we haven\’t taken and another technique we haven\’t tried.

  2. I agree over all balance is essential to ones self, home, classroom, community, government and the world in general. I am learning that each person sees balance differently. Maybe because the way they were taught how to estimate or equal math problems out. Perhaps the ways they were taught to coop with life\’s issues that factors the idea of a balanced life.

    No! A preschool classroom should not be rushed, pushed, ruled by time limts nor pressured! 3 out of 4 of these things are apart of their daily lives. A classroom should be age and developmentally appropriate!

    I am still learning how to create balance in my life. I do not know if perfect balance is possible (on this earth). Me personally each new level comes with new prospectives of balances. However relating balance to math it is universal!

    1. Ideally, balance will come with experience. It is also imperative to prioritize life\’s tasks. Most of us are trying to do too much every day which leads to a life out of balance. If you could cut one thing out, what would it be?

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