OFF THE GRID
I spent last Sunday evening not just preparing myself for going back to work, but mentally preparing my three boys for returning to summer camp on Monday morning. Despite my best efforts, my soon-to-be 9-year-old relented on the 7 minute drive to camp, "I just don't understand why you are going back to work. It's still summer." While the rest of the world is enjoying the peak of summer in July, there's a group of people known as principals who are off to the races!
So while I did so with a heavy heart, I dropped them off and headed to campus. Having spent two full weeks with them, every moment of every day, I sure was going to miss the little things that you have the time to notice when you are intentionally off the grid...my 10-year-old with a pimple (when I expressed how he's growing up, he informed me it wasn't his first...clearly I missed that somewhere in the 2016-2017 school year), my soon-to-be 9-year-old sneaking in secret dance moves in the back of the car (Parker dances all the time chimed in his older brother when I made a big deal because I caught him red-handed...clearly I missed that somewhere in the 2016-2017 school year) and my 7-year-old's dabs that shows he is acknowledging a directive (isn't dabbing a thing of the past...that's his signature move Mommy...clearly I missed that somewhere in the 2016-2017 school year).
Being off the grid for two weeks afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my WHY. WHY am I missing the little things? WHY is my school's theme next year #KidsDeserveIt but I feel like my kids at home aren't living that theme when I'm on the grid. WHY am I questioning if being a principal is what I'm called to do? Once I got on campus, it was clear that being a campus leader IS what I am called to do. I was immediately filled with all the excitement that a new school year brings. My WHY are my three boys, but what I need to work on is my HOW.
I'm entering my fifth year of principalship, and this is the year to get my HOW in check. HOW? Who knew the answer would be so simple...sign me up for email anonymous...you know...the one where the first step is you admit you have a problem! True story....as my husband reminds me every now and then....pre-principalship...I literally scolded him about having his cell phone in bed at night, checking emails, etc. Fast forward five years - as I wrote in my journal entry one night this week about my struggle to be a #PrincipalInBalance, my #PrincipalsInAction Voxer PLN was on fire with a conversation about, as Jessica Hutchinson put it, #selfpreservation. Jessica Cabeen sparked a conversation after reading Lindsy Stumpenhorst's post and before you know, we were all thinking about deleting the email app from our phones or, at minimum, taking off the email notifications. Screen shots of everyone's phones came rolling in to show the effort being made to detach from our work lives in order to commit and not miss those little things once we get home to our families.
I admit, the thought of not having emails accessible or responding to them before they're in the in-box for more than five minutes unread, gave me a bit of palpitations, but the heartache of missing the little things is far, far worse, and so not worth it.
So unlike when I recently traveled to Belize, and sent the entire staff a message saying that while out of the country, I wouldn't be accessible by text messages but would check email daily if they needed to touch base, (I know...ridiculous if I call myself being off the grid), I'm really heading off the grid today for a long weekend. This will be the test...no email notifications...no email app... I am going to be intentional and enjoy a staycation as my soon-to-be 9-year-old celebrates his last single-digit birthday...the only time he will...and those emails will be waiting when I get back to work on Monday.
I am grateful that I have a PLN who keeps us accountable to the fact that when we say #KidsDeserveIt, it also means those kids under our own roof who deserve us to be present and in the moment so that we do not miss the little things.
To begin, you have to begin...so this is where I'm starting. Option A didn't work...so I'm ready to kick Option B into full swing. You can only fail when you fail to try and failure is not an option. I can only keep trying because the little things will have great implications for three lives that matter most.