Monday, September 24, 2012

Intellectual Stimuli for SAHMs

Another SAHM / teacher-on-hiatus asked me today what I do to keep my mind from turning to mush since I don't miss teaching all that much.  After some thought, here's what I came up with:

  1. Having a second child.  I'm kidding, well, not really.  Since having William, I really don't have enough time to myself to realize if my brain is turning to mush or not.  I only get about an hour and a half guaranteed time to myself each day, which isn't much when you have all the items below to squeeze into it!
  2. READ
    1. My to-read list.  Being a SAHM means I get to read all the titles I never had time for before because of grading. 
    2.  Professional trade books.  I couple this with annotating and writing a detailed review so that I get the most out of these books and have something to come back to when I return to teaching.  
    3. Reading for the content area I teach, which is primarily young adult literature.  
    4. Extensive board book and picture book reading to find what is best for my kids.  I have learned A LOT about picture books in the last three years.  I took this further by complying a list of our favorites.  
    5. Book club selections, which expose me to texts I would never think to read and have also given me new perspective on classics I taught.   (More below)
    6. Setting reading goals.  For example, I have a goal of reading all the Newbury winners since 1959 (only need 8 more I think it is) or to read a certain number of non-picture books in a calendar year (almost made 100 last year). 
  3. Blog
    1. A venue share what I've learned through being a mom.  
    2. A place to share crafts and activities I do with the kids (mostly Natalie thus far since William is really not trustworthy with small, pointy, sticky, or smudgable items). 
    3. A record what the kids are learning for my own nestalgia and so that I won't be like my mom who claims she remembers nothing about us as babies.  
    4. A collection of my thoughts, when I have the time.  
    5. An outlet to vent at the stressful times, most predominate would be Natalie's JRA. 
    6. A scrapbook of my teaching ideas (see #8 below).
  4. "Homeschooling."  Gathering and executing ideas for games and activities for the kids is very similar to the work I did prepping for a class, especially now as I work with Natalie on recognizing her letters.  Its also stimulating in terms of stretching teaching self.  Working with an almost three year old is extremely different than a fourteen year old, so I've really been exploring more artistic and kenestitic ways of learning and teaching. 
  5. Crafting hobby.  My craft is cross stitch.  In the past, I've done a lot of work with kits or pattern books, but recently I've been making my own patterns for sets of alphabet blocks.  The act of the making the blocks keeps my hands busy during car rides or while watching TV, but actually designing the blocks (I'm the fourth edition) takes a lot of thinking. 
  6. Book Club discussions.  These discussions sometimes are very similar to my ideal classroom, and other times they are just adult social interaction.  Either way, they are excellent. 
  7. Take a class.  Currently, I'm taking a state mandated course on a topic which originally didn't interest me.  Even if the content hadn't started to peak my interest, the reading, annotating, and professional discussion are all great intellectual stimulation I was missing since completing my master's just before Natalie's birth. 
  8. Gather ideas for when I return to teaching.  Sometimes its writing a blog education topics, like new thinking on old assignments I taught or questions to ask at my interviews.  Other times, its searching the education board on Pinterest for ideas.  
  9. Watching stimulating TV or movies.  This one is a little bit of a stretch, but I do tend to like movies and shows that involve some thinking or leave room for discussion.  For example, my husband and I just finished a couple seasons of Dexter.  We were always pausing to talk about what was happening and what we thought going to happen next.  In the future I also want to set so movie goals, such as watching all the Oscar best picture winners. 
  10. Volunteer work.  This is something I want to do a lot more of in the future.  Right now, I have joined a committee connected with the group that runs our playgroup. 
  11. Being the best housewife and mother I can.  I add this because a lot of my time falls in this category.  This includes: Planning birthday parties and updating the kids wish lists.  Finding new recipes to try out.  Thinking about places to go on family outings.  Finding cute, yet affordable clothes for the kids.  Rotating their toys.  Helping the kids make gifts for family members. 

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