Work all day. Exhausted. Finally sit down at the kitchen table to shovel in a late dinner. And…out…comes…my cell phone…Why?? It’s like an automatic reaction that I can’t even control! To check the emails that I have may have missed on the way home from work??
I struggle with separating work and home and separating being a principal and being a dad. Most of the time I can’t separate the d and the P in my life and they blend together much more than my own family deserves, like in an infinite loop where both are so vitally important. Our new Dads As Principals logo reminds us of this struggle and how hard we need to work to keep the proper balance.
I love my job as principal and am obsessed with giving everything I can to make school engaging and fun for our students and teachers. Truly, I’m ok with that most of the time, because to be great, you have to give it your all. There’s no way around that. The problem I’m realizing is that if I don’t watch out, the sacrifice I’m making isn’t with my own time, it’s with the time that my own kids have with me.
Our Dads As Principals movement is a reminder to help us be both great principals and great dads. We believe you can do both, but it’s dads as principals, not principals as dads! There is a balance that works for both our students and our kids. In fact, we’ll be better principals for it! But it won’t happen if you aren’t intentional and reflective in our dual roles. It’s hard to do, but the hard is what makes it great!
Living in the Moment
I’ve started to put my phone away or upside-down when I’m with my family. One recent comment on social media from another dad was to put their phone in their bag or in another part of the house! Do what you have to do to create that separation. I have to prioritize what is more important, the potential social media/email pull from my phone or the innocent and loving faces in front of me. Use your phone for something better, like taking pictures of these special moments!
Thanks to great advice from Danny “Sunshine” Bauer @alienearbud during our recent Dads As Principals Better Leaders Better Schools podcast episode (check it our here), I’ve already cleared my home page of apps and changed my lock screen and background pictures with those of my family. It’s scary how the apps already have a way of creeping back on your page, like the weeds in my lawn that I can’t seem to kill.
Jessica Cabeen in her latest blog post gives some great advice about making sure to control how you view email. For instance, set times to check it and try to view/use each email only once. We don’t talk about this enough in society right now. In only one generation, emails alone have completely changed our work/life separation and balance.
Be More Efficient
I am guilty of being a perfectionist, but I have to learn that ‘close enough’ can be a really good thing. That last effort to make it ‘perfect’ comes at a high cost and usually takes longer than the work you already put in. Brad Gustafson gave me great advice recently in that he tries to use only one take for his videos because of this problem. I’m too guilty of taking multiple shots in video, adding extra features in programs, and rewording my writing too much, but I have to get better at doing my best and moving forward. That extra time is being taken from something else really important.
Don’t Take Others for Granted
After finishing this post, I’m going to literally walk over, give my wife a huge hug, and thank her for having my back and for being a great mom. She joked recently that she should start her own movement/hashtag #WivesOfPrincipals due to the enormous efforts it takes to fill the role of both mom and dad at times, especially when my school life takes over. We dump on them so often, knowing they will take up the slack. I’m going to try to not take advantage of that!
Involve your Kids
Dads have a lot to do! There are some chores and activities that just need to be done around the house. As my kids are getting older, I have a mission to involve them as much as possible in these ‘chores’ I do at home. For instance, recently I decided to change the brake pads and rotors for both of my vehicles. Dads As Principals are also cheap since we started our careers as educators with no money, but plenty of holes, in our pockets. What a great learning experience for my two older kids, and I have to give them credit, they really hung in there and helped out, more than I initially thought they would! It definitely takes longer to get these projects done when you involve your kids, but don’t forget the the time is more valuable and they won’t forget the memory!
How do you want to be remembered by your kids and your family?! The mental image for my kids CANNOT be of my messing with my phone! I refuse to allow that! Will you?