Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paper Clips and Scotch Tape

There are some days when I feel like I'm just getting by. I feel like I'm in reactive mode. Not much of a plan. Just rolling with the punches. Letting the world dictate while I just react. Some days I feel like I'm being held together by paper clips and Scotch tape.

For the first 17 years of motherhood, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom. I had an occasional paying job, but it was always a position that allowed me to bring my child(ren). I have worked in positions such as childcare for a mother's group and the drop-in nursery at the YMCA. the positions were only for a few hours at a time, so they felt more like a playdate than a job.

Last year, when my youngest started kindergarten, I decided I wanted to go back into teaching. Since it had been over 17 years since I had last taught (student teaching at that, not my own classroom), my husband and I agreed that subbing would be the best way to get back into it. I started subbing with some nervous butterflies. Would the students listen to me? Did I still have the passion for teaching that I had so many years ago?

From the start, I loved subbing. I honestly believe that some of this was due to my attitude. I start each day with a prayer, something simple like: "Lord, let me have fun while helping these students learn." I look at subbing as a privilege. "Wow! I get to help this teacher! He/She is trusting me with this class!"  It's even better when I find out that a teacher has requested me as the sub!

Although I love subbing, it was an adjustment for my family. Mom was no longer home during the day to bring a forgotten lunch or homework paper. Mom couldn't go to the store while the kids were at school. Time in the evening and weekends would have to be scheduled for normally daytime errands.

It was difficult at first. We ate out a lot, because we weren't used to planning meals in advance. I had always done that during the day. We would have to make emergency trips to the store, because I had forgotten to buy toilet paper, something I did on my once-a-month stock-up while the kids were at school.

Now in my second year of subbing, we have worked out most of the bugs. My hubby has stepped up with meal planning, often prepping meals for the week on Sundays. My oldest helps drive her sisters to and from activities as needed. I have learned to budget my time to include errands and housework.

In a way, the switch from full-time stay-at-home mom to substitute teacher is similar to my switch from non-diabetic to a person with diabetes (PWD). I was used to eating whatever and whenever I wanted, just as I once had the flexibility to run errands whenever I liked. Suddenly I had to eat on more of a schedule, watching my carb intake and activity to keep my glucose levels in check.

Is it impossible to adjust? No. I have actually found myself happier and healthier as I adjust to the new demands as a PWD and substitute teacher. There are still times where I feel like I'm put together with paper clips and Scotch tape, but with help from God, my family, and my friends, those office supplies aren't needed as much.


  1. Isn't it funny what structure in our day can do? I sometimes feel that I get more done WHILE I'M AT WORK (oops... don't tell anyone!) than when I have a day off. I'm required to be more focused and efficient with my time, I guess?

  2. They're such cute paper clips!
    I loved subbing. I loved not having to bring school work home with me, especially.
    And yup, that "getting organized" part is tough. Sounds like you've got a working system.

  3. I'm curious to know how you've done with your diabetes control during this transition. I retired 2 years ago and I've gotten into a great routine of exercise and regular eating but I'm concerned that if I ever go back to work, even part time, that it will be hard to adjust.

  4. One advantage to subbing is not being home and mindlessly snacking. Exercise can be tricky to get in, but luckily(?) I wind up walking back and forth through the halls. One huge advantage over a desk job.