Frequently when meeting a person for the first time they ask, “What do you do?” I never quite know how to reply, as I wear so many different hats in life. Not only am I am full-time high school math teacher, but I am a wife, a step-mom to three children, and an entrepreneur.
Then it hit me — I am not alone in this endeavor. Many Americans wear various hats as they pursue the American Dream in their unique ways. Over time I have learned through trial and error how to succeed at balancing the expectations required when living multiple roles. This article delves into each role and discusses the essential skills necessary to excel at them. Thankfully, many of the skills for success overlap.
Parenting is a full time job. Even though my step-children currently do not live with us every day, their dad and I are always planning for their futures, making choices for them, and trying to guide them to happiness via phone calls and occasional visits. We pray for them daily. We love them dearly. So when we have time together we make the most of those times, thus establishing family as priority number one.
How do we make the most of our family time together? Ironically, it does not involve a vast amount of busy times. Instead, we slow our lives down to enjoy each other. We spend time baking new recipes. We go to the park where my husband kicks the ball with the boys and I swing on the swings with my step-daughter. We do cross stitch. We build models. We write stories. We hang out watching movies on the TV at home instead of movie theaters and play video games together so we can chat, bond, and generally communicate as a family. These are the family moments we treasure and of which memories are made.
Placing family first sets the stage for success for other life roles, because to me, supporting and nurturing my family is why I have the other roles to begin with. Knowing that my husband and I will prioritize family helps us structure time for our other roles. We know, for example, that we will not work overtime when the kids are with us if it can be helped. When the kids call, all our other activities take a backseat so we can talk with them. We also wait until after the children are in bed or doing activities with their friends before spending time promoting our business. Keeping family at the forefront helps balance our day accordingly.
Enjoying success as a full time teacher has its trying moments, because it is natural to bring work home with me. I am not referring necessarily to the tests I grade from time to time, but from caring about individual students and their situations. It is easy to become wrapped up in a student’s problems and carry them home. Thankfully I have found a solution that works for me. I have about a 25 minute commute. Between the time I leave work and when I reach home, I mentally put those student dilemmas on an invisible shelf. Then I forward think and switch into wife mode, thinking about going to the gym or what to have for dinner. By the time I arrive at home, I have switched hats and am ready to succeed at a new role.
Entrepreneurship encroaches upon family time, too. I am a writer for two major websites and have recently begun my own blog as well. During the winter months I drive to people’s homes to prepare tax returns in the privacy of their own home. Finding time to negotiate schedules, leave online feedback, and write new content certainly takes its toll. However, I break up my week into manageable segments. On Monday through Thursday my focus is on school related events. After leaving work on Friday, I focus my energy on writing. It helps when the content I write overlaps with material I am teaching at school, or when my writing discusses family moments such as this article. Writing and working as an entrepreneur actually nurture my role as a wife and parent because it increases my feeling of self-worth.
Although the path to success in wearing multiple hats is not clear cut, it turns out that finding success as a parent, wife, teacher and entrepreneur really go hand in hand. Finding success at home with my family leads to a positive day at work, which in turn lends to a creative spark for my business endeavors. Hopefully this type of thinking will help remind others who wear multiple hats that doing so is not a burden. In fact, living multiple life roles is rewarding and becomes easier over time. Living life’s simple successes snowballs into multiple successes, and thus the cycle continues.
Do you wear multiple hats in your life? Is parenting complimentary to your other life roles? Please comment below and share this with others!
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