I’ve told my told my son to pick up up after himself but it’s still not happening. Or at least it’s not happening as often as I’d like (which would be every time). How difficult is it to just throw your trash away?
Well, one morning this week I woke up early to brew my 1st cup of coffee. And I glanced over to see empty boxes of treats, cookies and cereal, lying on their side and crumbs all over the floor.
I was livid. That’s it. No more snacks. No more eating in front of the tv while playing Madden. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
My wife came down a few minutes later as I was in the middle of my rant. Surely she was on my side. We can’t allow our son to make the tv area his personal trash can?
My wife didn’t share my frustration.
While my wife acknowledged that, yes our son did make and leave a mess, she said that that was a hit she willing to take. She reminded how much fun he had hanging out with his friend and eating snacks while playing video games.
She was right. Why was I getting worked up over something so small and something that resulted in much happiness?
An even better question is how often do I allow myself to become angry or upset over small stuff? I have to admit it is often. Too often. It’s time I reflect on what I am allowing to make me angry and what I am allowing to disrupt my sense of calm and steal my energy. I think this is something that we as educators need to take time to reflect upon because we can’t afford to become upset over small stuff. We need to save our energy for bigger issues.
I have a compiled a list of questions we need to begin asking ourselves before we lose our sh%$ over little stuff.
Is It Causing a Problem or Does it Simply Irritate You?
I was irritated by the mess my son left. But it didn’t cause a problem because when I asked him to clean it up, he did so without arguing. Therein lies the difference. I think this is a question that we must continually ask ourselves before we become angry.
Students forgetting to bring a pencil is irritating but is it a problem? No, not really. So, from here on out, don’t even let things as minor as this irritate you. As I am writing this, there is a day-old yogurt tube sitting next to the tv where my son plays Madden. Was it intended for yesterday’s breakfast? Probably. Did I let it irritate me? No. I simply reminded my son to throw it away and he obliged. End of story.
Do You Have to Get Involved?
We are helpers by nature. It’s what we educators do.
There are times when we need to back off. Some things will fix themselves and don’t concern us. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pitch in and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help our colleagues when we’re able and the situation calls for it.
But how many times have we “piled on” when we could have left well enough alone? I know I have been guilty more times than I care to count. And it adds up.
For example, my wife may be taking care of a situation with one of our kids and I, for some reason, feel the need to chime in when I should have left it alone. First, my wife didn’t need or want my help. Second, that is energy I can save for something else.
We have our hands full as it is, why jump into situations in which we are not needed just to chime in. It takes energy. It takes power away from the other person. And it causes resentment from the child or student that is being addressed.
Do You Have Energy For the Big Stuff?
Do you find yourself worn out and exhausted by the end of the day? If you’re like 99.9% of educators then you’re answer is yes.
Now I get it, your job is incredibly difficult and energy consuming. But, what if you saved a little bit? And instead of fighting every-little-battle you began saving energy for the big stuff. Because we know there is going to be big stuff.
Unfortunately, we spend so much of our time with the little piddly stuff that when it comes time to take on the big issues, we have nothing left.
- Don’t freak out when a student curses in your class. Address it and move on. Or, and this can be difficult, don’t even acknowledge the cursing and it might go away. Remember I said might.
- Who cares that your colleague didn’t say good morning to you today? Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they were daydreaming. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. Let it go
- And that parent who continues to forget to sign their child’s paper? Don’t take it personally. Stuff happens. Is it that big a deal? Is it worth getting bent out of shape over?
You only have a limited amount of energy and patience when you begin each day. Don’t waste it on stupid stuff. I know I could have worded that a little more eloquently, but you know what I mean. Plus, I didn’t want to spend another 20 minutes wordsmithing one sentence when I could be using that time for something else. Like taking a nap.
Have a great week and remember, don’t sweat the small stuff.
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