I Want to Be the Fun Mom, But I’m Too Tired from Teaching

I Want to Be the Fun Mom, But I'm Too Tired from Teaching

“Hey Mommy, do you want to bake some cookies?”

I barely heard the words come out of my three-year-old’s mouth. I was about to doze off to sleep on the couch. The last thing I wanted to do was bake cookies. I already wanted to order another pizza for dinner, although that’s what we had last night. 

“Maybe in a little while, sweetie.”

I’ve felt guilty a good portion of this winter break. I WANT to bake cookies, and play outside, and do all the holiday crafts with my kids. But I’m exhausted—or better yet, I’m “teacher tired.”

I want to be the fun mom on winter break, but I’m just too tired.

Past winter breaks have looked a lot like baking cookies and tons of laughter. This year, it’s looking more like take-out and watching Netflix. Instead of perfecting that gingerbread recipe, my two kids now know the plot of “The Good Place.” 

Never before this year have I considered hiring a babysitter for my kids during a school break. (That is, of course, if I could afford it). Virtual teaching and homeschooling have left me desperate for a different type of “break.” While I’ve spent almost every waking moment with my kids this year, I feel like very little of that has been quality time.

This year has been a blur of virtual classes and answering emails while chasing a preschooler and staying on top of my third grader’s work. As a result, their babysitter for the past week has been a combination of Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog.

I can’t help but compare this year’s winter break to others. I was the “fun mom,” taking the kids on day trips to aquariums and state parks. Are they comparing this year to other years, too? I wonder if they’re thinking “mom just isn’t as fun as she used to be.” 

As much as I deserve a break, my kids also deserve the world after the year they’ve had. It’s been filled with so many changes and canceled plans. Not to mention, we won’t be seeing our extended family for the holidays this year. The majority of their “cheer” has fallen on my shoulders and it’s getting pretty heavy.

What I really want is to be the “fun mom” on Christmas break. You know, the one that makes the crafted ornaments and homemade cards. But I orchestrated so many crafts and activities for my students. The idea of doing it on my time off sort of makes my skin crawl. 

What I really want is to restore the hope in my children. However, everything in me wants to completely break down. And I’m tired of wearing a brave face every day for everyone.

What I really want is to be my kids’ safe space these next few weeks so that they can just be the kids that they are—but I’ve been thirty kids’ safe space for the past four months in the middle of mass chaos, and I just feel so done.

However, if this year has taught me anything—it’s to give myself some grace and stop expecting so much of myself. My kids, both at home and at school, are taken care of, even on the days where I fall short. My kids have a hard-working mommy, and one that tries her best to be everything they need, even on a too-short holiday break after a long, unexpected year.

Even though I can’t seem to live up to my own expectations of who I “should” be right now, there are still memories being made. My kids are staying up way too late and they think that’s pretty special. Plus, they don’t mind all the pizza nights. The cartoons are a nice change of pace from online assignments and the independent backyard play has worked wonders for their imaginations. Without my hovering, they’ve grown their sibling bonds.

It’s not all bad and I believe some of my guilt and self-blame is misplaced. This year has been HARD on me and my students and my kids, and I’m clinging to any and all memories being made in our home. As a teacher and parent, I’m navigating something new and it’s understandably difficult for me to maintain; so today, I’ll remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect to be the fun mom.


I Want to Be the Fun Mom, But I'm Too Tired from Teaching

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Whitney Ballard is a writer and teacher from small town Alabama. She owns the Trains and Tantrums blog, https://trainsandtantrums.blog/. Whitney went from becoming a mom at sixteen to holding a Master’s degree in Education; she writes about her journey, along with daily life, through a Christian lens on her blog. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the backyard with her husband, two boys, and two dogs.

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