I’ve spent a great deal of my life as a teacher’s pet, goody-goody, and all-around law-abiding citizen. There are some life rules, however, that just don’t work for me – and I’m confessing all to you today!

1.Don’t hit the snooze button

You all know how much I adore my sleep, and I follow the advice of sleep experts as much as I possibly can. I can’t, however, break up with my snooze button. But here’s the thing: I usually only hit it once, and I have those nine minutes factored into my morning. It is extremely rare that I fall back asleep, and I actually use that time to think about the day ahead and get my bearings. It’s much more peaceful for me than jumping right out of bed at the sound of the alarm!

2. Don’t do drugs

Fine, I suppose that’s a bit misleading, as I can honestly say I’ve never done any illegal drugs. (Or formerly-illegal-but-now-legal-in-Canada drugs for that matter.) I am, however, a huge fan of Western medicine, with my three favourites being Accutane (no teen – or human being of any age for that matter – should have to suffer from confidence-destroying acne), Diclectin (for “morning” sickness that lasts all day for months – I never would have had a second child if I had not discovered this with my first), and whatever miracle drugs go into the epidural. Natural birth? You do you. I did me, and me liked the beautiful numbness. “It’s time to push, Kate!” What? It is? Okay! (Note that of course none of this is medical advice. Talk to your doctor.)

3. Don’t tell your daughters they’re beautiful.

I absolutely tell my girls how beautiful they are – in and out – on a regular basis. I compliment their hard work (notably in school and with their music/dancing), their kindness, their thoughtfulness…but I also tell them they’re pretty, because they sure are, and they need to hear it. I compliment my students on all the things that matter the most, but also say “I love those brown eyes!” or “Look at you with the cute braids!” or “Your smile just makes my day!” because we all like to hear that “outer” stuff, and the world will be quick to tell our children they don’t make the cut. I’ll leave it at that, since I wrote a whole post about this topic in the past – check it out!

Photo: Art by Mary Zita Payne

4. Get up an hour early to be productive

This is a big tip in the “You go, girl!” world of life coaching for women. Want to write that book, exercise that body, get that degree, start that business? Wake up an hour early! Yeah, that’s never worked for me. I love my sleep, and while I certainly don’t “sleep in” (on school days my alarm goes off around 6:15) I don’t want to wake up one minute earlier than I have to. If you have a goal you’re working towards, you can try to find time at a different point in the day. I’ve done a ton of writing on my lunch breaks, and my treadmill session starts as soon as I get in the door after school. Maybe your toddler’s nap time is a better idea for getting work done than forcing your already sleep-deprived body out of bed early, or you go for a nice long run on Saturdays while your husband watches the kids. Don’t feel you have to conform to something just because it worked for someone else. (And P.S. There are some phases in parenting – and life in general – when you’re just making it through the days, not even thinking about a side hustle, workout routine, charity work or anything other than keeping your family alive. And that’s okay.)

5. Post frequently

Ever since I was a newbie blogger back in 2010, one of the most common nuggets of advice I’ve come across has been “post frequently” – you want to keep your rabid fans satisfied, after all! Whether you’re a blogger like me or a musician posting songs to YouTube or a business owner sharing posts on social media, content creation is obviously important. Posting frequently, I would argue, is way less important than posting quality work. I’ve been a full-time teacher the whole time I’ve been blogging and there’s no way I could pump out daily blog posts at the same time. I also don’t believe, even 9 years in, that I have any fans who really care! I mean if you visit your favourite site every day for a month and there’s nothing new you may give up, but if you know there’s a weekly rhythm you won’t be surprised if a few days go by with nothing. Same with the podcast: many podcasters boast about posting every single week (or for some, every day!) since they started. If that’s what they want to do, great! But I decided to take a hiatus in the spring before recently launching a new season of weekly episodes, and I think the quality is much better for it…plus while some kind listeners told me they missed the show and asked when it would be back, no one made a big deal about it. Long story short: no matter what field you work/volunteer/hobby in, quantity/frequency will never trump quality.

6. Accept there’s no such thing as “balance”

After so many “working” women were asked how they balance work and family, a backlash began (Why aren’t the men being asked this question?) followed by the common answer that “there’s no such thing as balance”. I completely disagree, as long as we can look at balance over time. Randi Zuckerberg wrote an excellent book called Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day), where she encourages readers to aim for three priorities each day, chosen from Work, Sleep, Fitness, Family and Friends, and make sure you’re rotating over the course of a week or month. Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam reminds us in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think that while it may seem like too much to fit all our priorities into 24 hours, the amount of time in a week is probably enough.

If I teach all day and have a school function at night, my family is getting very little time with me. But on Saturday I might spend only an hour or two on work, and the rest of my waking time is spent with them. I could skip the treadmill three busy work days in a row, but hop on from Thursday to Sunday, still giving me a pretty good “4 times per week” stat. While I wouldn’t skip on sleep too many nights in a row and attempt to catch up later, even a seasonal night out with my girlfriends can help us feel caught up in our relationships. Balance over time. I totally agree with those who now proclaim “You can have it all! Just not at the same time.”

So those are the rules I break – I want to hear yours! Leave a comment or message me!

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Oh, and P.S.: I’m not going to get into the unofficial rules of the Ontario Kindergarten program here (I don’t exactly follow them all), but I plan to discuss on the podcast so stay tuned! Spoiler: again, it’s all about balance!

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