Relax By Kelly Mikesell

The beginning of the school year is incredibly stressful. With meetings, Open House, getting everything "ready", no sleep and long hours - it can get to you. I have found a few tricks that help me at the beginning of the year.

First, plan one day at a time for the first week. You never know what you will get done, how the kids will manage, and what will "pop up". I plan one day at a time, so I never have to stay "really late" at the beginning of the year.

Second, don't stress about the "stuff". When I first started teaching I worried about all the "stuff" the kids brought in. Where does it all go? When will I find time to sort it out? I've learned to not worry about the "stuff" because eventually it all finds a home. I place all the supplies in laundry baskets on the first day and slide them in a corner. When it gets put away, it gets put away...

Third, do not stay more than 1 ½ hours after the children leave in the evening. Don't do it. You will only be tired the next day! Get your plans, materials and everything ready for the next day and go home. A well rested teacher is more fun, enjoyable and eager to teach.

Fourth, take time for you. This year on the first day of school I went to see a movie. I took 2 hours for me. Only me. Selfish, tired, worn-out, stressed-out me. And it helped. I came home smiling and ready to go back the next day. Make sure you take at least a little time each day for you. Take a walk, read a book, nap, take a bath, walk the mall, whatever makes you relax.

Fifth, remember to smile. Sometimes when we are under stress we forget to smile. It helps, really.

So, remember, the kids are the most important part of teaching, and stress comes and goes, it's how you deal with it that makes the difference.

Kelly is a Kindergarten Teacher in Tampa, Florida with 10 years experience and the creator of She was born and raised north of Chicago, and went to Illinois State University for a B.S. in Elementary Education and has taught K - 8 Technology, Kindergarten, First Grade, Pre-K, and VE K - 3.

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