I'm Not Telling You It's Going To Be Easy...I'm Telling You It's Going To Be Worth It.

That is one of my new favorite quotes and has been a guiding force in my recent decision, which has also been one of the most challenging and difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

I used to live and die by My Plan. It was a useful plan and always got me to great places and has given me the ability to do amazing things. My Plan consisted of:
  • working your tail off
  • doing it all
  • spinning lots of plates in the air
  • not saying no
  • and on and on....
I'm sure many of you also follow this plan and to be honest, it worked for me for a long time.... or so I thought.

Two and a half years ago, a delightful little wrench was thrown into My Plan: our beautiful, bouncy and personality-filled daughter. Suddenly, I found myself muscling through my tried & true plan and starting to lose myself more and more. My spinning plates started crashing to the ground, but I continued going, going, going under the false assumption that if I just kept doing what I'd always done, things would improve.

This year was the tipping point. It occurred to me during a late night of grading, school emails, and planning that when it came to the life of my daughter, I as her mother am the person who sees her the least. She's all we have and two years have gone by with me spending less time with her than I had spent with many of the kids in my classroom.

Have you ever had to choose between two passions?

I made that choice and, after many tears, of course my daughter came out leaps and bounds ahead.

Today is my last day in the classroom. I am choosing to take a leave of absence for the remainder of this year to be a mom. To be there for milestones, potty training, playdates, and all of the hundreds of things I have missed out on up to this point.

I have no idea where this path will lead. I am definitely nervous and I pray and hope every day that I am making the right choice.
{source}

It's My New Plan and I know it will be worth it. I will also continue my passion of blogging and sharing what has worked for me over these past ten years, so stay tuned for new posts and ideas of what I have loved doing. Sharing and connecting with you all has kept me going through so many tough times, you probably don't even realize, so I hope you will continue to indulge me by stopping by to read more of my ramblings :)

Thank you to each and every one of you.





46 comments

  1. Wow...that's a big decision. I'm sure it wasn't an easy one to make. Your daughter is so lucky to have such a great mom who is willing to make that sacrifice. Good luck with all that is ahead. I look forward to continuing to read your blog for great ideas.

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    1. Thank you so much, Amy. Your comment means so much :)

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  2. Good for you! You will never regret putting your daughter first. I teach 3 days a week and have the other 4 for my kids. It's hard money wise but it's the closest I can come to a "balance". Enjoy your time with your daughter!!!

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    1. I *love* that schedule! I would love to find something with that much flexibility :) Thank you so much for your comment and support!

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  3. If you can make it happen, why not? When you're ready to head back, any administrator would be happy to have you back. I look forward to your continued sharing. Enjoy time with your little gal!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kate. I cannot tell you how much your support means to me :)

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  4. Stephanie, you're definitely in my thoughts and prayers. I know how hard of a decision this was, but I think putting yourself and your family first is the right move. Your family will benefit immensely from having you at home! Best wishes on this new venture! We're right here with you for support and uplifting! :)

    Dana

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    1. Thank you so much, Dana! Your prayers and support mean more to me than you know. Many thanks :)

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  5. As a relatively new third grade teacher, your blog has inspired me many times over the past year (thank you!), and I just wanted to wish you well! Teachers always forget to take some time to preserve some quality of life and be a real person :). I'm happy that you're doing this for yourself and your daughter. Best of luck!

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  6. I honestly wish more families in America had this philosophy. You were created to be a mom first and everything else second. God bless this decision! You have many supporters!

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  7. Thinking of you! I admire your decision to stay home with your daughter. I am sure you will cherish all of the new time you get to spend with her! It will definitely be worth it :)

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  8. Stephanie, good for you for putting yourself and your family first. Teachers' biggest flaw and strength is their selflessness--it often takes a wake up call to realize when you're not taking good enough care of yourself and those closest to you!

    I wanted to tell you how inspirational you've been. In my second year of teaching, I am 100% a better teacher because of your blog. I am using Whole Brain Teaching, Daily 5, and Math Rotations this year, and my students are flying. I love your materials, your dedication, and your willingness to never stop trying new things. You're amazing and aspirational!

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  9. I was teaching. Now I'm at home raising the kids. We are coming to the end of potty training, which I thought would never end. He's my baby, and now I see how quickly it went. You don't get any of the 'being there moments' back. You only get one chance to be there when they're 2, or 3 or 4, or whatever age it is, because they aren't that age but for one short year. Then it's over. You don't get a do-over with that like you can get with other choices in our lives. Everyone makes the difficult decision to do what is right for their family. I know I can go back to teaching. But I know I can never go back to being there for their "being at 2" (or whatever age) ever again. I only get this one chance. And now you do too.

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  10. I would have given the world to have been able to stay at home with my daughter. I know I missed a lot. Financially, we just couldn't swing it. I say if you can, DO IT! This year she will begin Kindergarten and I sometimes wonder where the time has gone!

    Deniece

    Deniece

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  11. Oh, Stephanie! I can't imagine how hard of a decision this is for you! You are in my thoughts---sending you positive thoughts for today!!!
    Melissa :)

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  12. You will have no regrets! I also had to find the balance and went part time last year at Christmas and have taken this year off to be with my kids. There will be many years when your own darlings aren't small that you can give of your energy to the classroom!

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  13. Congrats on making a decision that will make you find the balance needed in your life. Enjoy every moment with your family. The job will be there when you are ready to get back to it. Wishing you the very best!
    tania
    My Second Sense

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  14. My wonderful sons are now 21 and 23 years old. Teaching was my love until they came along. It was hard to leave my profession but harder to leave the "upbringing" of my sons to chance. Let go and find the peace of being a mother. It's the most important job you will ever do.

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  15. My wonderful sons are now 21 and 23 years old. Teaching was my love until they came along. It was hard to leave my profession but harder to leave the "upbringing" of my sons to chance. Let go and find the peace of being a mother. It's the most important job you will ever do.

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  16. Tears are flowing! That was not what I was expecting but I am happy for you and understand your decision completely. I don't know you, but I know you are an outstanding educator and I rave about you to everyone. (I actually tell people that if I could go anywhere it would be to visit your classroom!) You are such an inspiration and now more than ever! Making this decision had to be difficult, but SO worth it! I look forward to hearing more and I am SO (selfishly) happy you are going to continue blogging and maybe even creating outstanding products???? :) I cannot tell you how much you have helped me over the past year and a half since I moved to third grade. Thank you for sharing your career and life with us! Thank you for being an inspiration and portraying such strength! Enjoy all of the priceless moments with that little cutie! :)

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  17. ohhh This really hits home with me right now! My son is just over two and I am dealing with the same emotions and struggles. I taught for so many years before he was born that I don't think I realized the depth of how much of my own time I was putting in. This month when report cards were due and conferences were held two days in a row 2-8pm I thought, HOW do I get it all done? When is there time outside of a school day to get this much work done and not miss my precious 2 or three hours with my son during the week or those 2 days of a weekend that go by too quickly? I am so jealous of your new journey! Good luck and enjoy every moment!

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  18. Yeah! As a Grandma of 3...IT GOES SOOOOOO FAST! You will always be able to work...You can't make up the first 5 years at home! Good for you! wendy 1stgradefireworks

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  19. This hits home with me. I use to be a big believer of your plan too and then I got married this past summer and it's been hard to keep it going. My husband is my priority but due to crazyness at work I hadn't been treating him like one. I can't imagine what it will be like when I have a kid so I've been trying to maximize my time at work more.

    Kudos to you on making such a tough decision. It will be worth it and thank you for sharing with us!

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  20. PS. That's always been one of my favorite quotes, because it is absolutely 100% true!

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  21. Good for you! I know it was a hard decision but you are so brave to do what's best for your family. Enjoy your time with your little angel.

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  22. Best wishes to you and your family! I look forward to reading your blogs.

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  23. I too gave up my teaching career for 11 years to stay home and raise my own children. I have never had any regrets. You will always have time to teach students, but you only get one chance to raise your own! Thank you for sharing your teaching tips with us. Bless you and your sweet family!

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  24. I've read your blog since the beginning. Many of your resources hang in my room. Good for you for being able to make such a decision. It's not always an easy one. My friend and I discuss it a lot. I always tell her it is okay to be a mom. Just remember your daughter loves you no matter what. Enjoy this time.
    - Sydney
    Lessons Learned

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  25. Stephanie, I believe that you will NEVER regret taking the time to stay home with your daughter! You will never get these early years back again-they are worth more than any amount of extra income, as long as your family's needs can be met one one income. I was blessed to have been able to do that with my two daughters, and went back to teaching part time, and then full time, when they were older. Never regretted it.

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  26. Good for you! I didn't start teaching until my youngest was in first, I got to be home with them during all those important milestones. I'm way behind my friends when it comes to "years teaching" but I've never regretted my wonderful days at home with them. If you can make it happen, do it! You are so lucky that your school is allowing you do to that too! Enjoy!

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  28. Oh Stephanie!! I'm so happy for you! I'm sure this was such a hard decision, but I know you will treasure each and every moment with your precious girl! :) :)

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  29. Thank you for this post. I am a 50 year old teacher who has recently resumed full-time teaching. I chose to follow your blog as I'm a third grade teacher and have been inspired by your ideas. I was also baffled by how-in-the-world you did all that you did. Quite frankly, I felt old and digitally illiterate. Okay, I still do. But I'm glad to see you have chosen to take a break, though I feel badly, too, that it has to be such a difficult crossroads for you. Please know that I applaud your decision and you can be confident that things have a way of working out. I quit full-time teaching when my daughter was three and my son was born. When my son started kindergarten, I went back part time and held a variety of part-time teaching positions. They have all helped me, I think, for this challenge of teaching 3rd grade. My kids are 19 and 22, and I have a whole 'nother set of "kids" in my classroom. I love my 26 8 and 9 year olds that I get to pour into every day. Blessings to you, Stephanie: you are a remarkable young woman.

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  30. Oh Stephanie, I am so happy for you:) As bitter sweet of a decision as I'm sure that it was, there's no doubt in any of our minds that you made the absolute perfect choice. I, too, follow that "Plan" that you originally had. It's the only way I know. It's the only way I allow myself to be! But my-oh-my it is exhausting, and never ending. I, too, keep thinking if I just keep following my Plan, that things will improve eventually and that I'll see my husband for more than a 15 minute dinner time, and that at some point, I WON'T fall asleep with the laptop. Your post, as they all do, has given me perspective and inspiration. Though I don't have the beautiful little girl that you do, I do have a beautiful life with my husband, friends, and family who sometimes…ok, a lot of times, come second to the to-do lists. Thank you for making me step back to see that it's ok to not have all of the plates spinning perfectly ALL the time. :) I wish you ALL the best in this new, memory filled journey of yours!!

    Ashley
    The Balancing Act I Call Life

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  31. Stephanie,

    You are brave to share such a personal part of your life with us. Although you do not know me...I want you to know that I support your decision 100%. As I was reading your...I recognized myself in your words. I have been teaching for four years. I made the decision to go back to school and finish my teaching degree in the midst of raising two beautiful children, balancing being a wife, etc. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I, too, struggle with missing out on my own children's lives (they are 8 and 11). After a full day of work...I often come home (to do more work) crabby and exhausted. As I tuck my children into bed...I find myself thinking "yep, they got the leftovers, again." I hate that feeling. I love the job of teaching...but I hate that I have to sacrifice so much of my personal life in order to stay above water. Anyway, this wasn't supposed to be about me! I just want you to know that you are supported, respected, and admired for taking a step back and realizing what really matters. One of my favorite sayings: "Please God, don't let me be so busy making a living, that I forget to make a life." You have been called to live your life. Enjoy it. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  32. I know this was a difficult decision for you, but I know you'll love all the extra minutes spent with your little one! When you start getting the itch to be in a classroom, drive up and you can hang out with mine!! Hugs!! :)

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  33. I wish you all the best! I am sure it will be hard, but you will look back years later and really be thankful that you took this time to be with your daughter!

    Tonya
    Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

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  34. Your blog is my inspiration everyday in my little third grade classroom! Who knew that, as teachers, so many could share feelings personally with you? I wish you nothing but the best in your new journey with your daughter. I'm not a mommy, but I see my coworkers struggling to balance two worlds at once, and I know MANY wish they had the courage to CHOOSE. Thank you for all you do!

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  35. This is not what I was expecting to read, but I know you will find many blessings in being a full-time mommy. Take care and God bless.

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  36. I am a very new follower. I have been out of the workforce for the last 4 years to have a baby and enjoy my time with him. I was planning on staying home till he was 6, but financially we couldn't do it.

    This post is so relative to me. I am struggling, STRUGGLNG with how to balance work and home-life. My young one will only be this little once and yet, basically being a new teacher all over again has me spending A LOT of time on school related items. In fact, I should be spening more time, but can't as I'm forced to pick up my other child, etc. So, I had a breaking point this last week, broke down in tears. My life is stressed and chaotic and it has also taken a toll on my marriage, but I don't want to fail, I want to do well in all areas, but I am finding it so difficult to do that!

    I don't know what the answer is, wish I did. Sadly, I am also feeling the pressure of a couple of parents. Ahh…. teaching would be perfect if it weren't for those darn parents, yeah?

    I would love to have you do a blog post about parents who have brought you down. I have a lot of great parents, but sadly, it's those parents who are negative that stick with you.

    Good luck to you! I think you've made a wise decision….work will always be there!

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  37. I feel the same way you have been feeling and next year I hope to go part time to try and balance the family with my passion. My kids are 8 and 6 and I have missed so much already and hope to make up some time with them in the near future. I know your decision was not easy for you but family comes first. Good luck to you.

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  38. I so know where you are coming from even though my children are now entering the MS years. I spend almost my whole weekend at school planning and then at home am too tired to give them the time they deserve. I feel I also missed out on a lot of things. Good for you to follow your heart and that you are able to do that. I wish I could have. You are an amazing inspiration to me and I love all the awesome things you share with us. I have often wondered how you do it all :)

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  39. Stephanie!! Love that quote and I am so happy for you and your decision!!! I'm sure your daughter is going to be so super happy to have her mom around more often! I have always had a plan as well, and as time goes by I am wondering more and more how much that plan is going to change (and how much it has already changed... and I don't even have kids yet!). Good luck moving forward!! You are absolutely fabulous and I am so happy that you are planning on keeping up your blog and sharing your wonderful ideas!! :)

    Molly

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  40. Congrats on your decision, Stephanie!
    As much as you help me and other teachers, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BE YOUR DAUGHTER'S MOTHER! There are many gifted teachers who can do, and will do, much of the work you have been doing! You made the right choice for right now. Never look back! Good luck in your expanded life! (Thanks for the sale items! I'd love to win anything I don't already have!)

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  41. I think you have made an awesome decision! I am so inspired by your blog and am slowly incorporating many of your practices. Would you ever consider visiting another classroom and giving some advice to another Colorado teacher? I know you have changed many lives by your beliefs and practices. I hope to do the same.

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  42. I use so many of your ideas and always marveled at how you could possibly have time for it all. I am being totally selfish here and hope you will continue your blog and allow us non-creative types access to to all your wonderful ideas! You will continue to inspire AND be there for your family! Good luck and enjoy the time with your little one!

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Thank you so much for your comments! :)
~Stephanie

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