Being a Teacher and Traveling with My Family: The Three Skills That Helped Me Most

Being a Teacher and Traveling with My Family: The Three Skills That Helped Me Most

My husband and I decided to go to Ireland after our wedding in 2019. We were meant to go in June 2020 however were stalled by the pandemic. In 2021 we decided to go to the East Coast instead and in 2022 gave birth to our daughter Olivia. So here I am writing this in a campsite in Blarney with my husband beside me listening to music and my toddler asleep in the tent (which is a frigging miracle because she hasn’t fallen asleep earlier than midnight for the entire time we have been here.) It’s been an amazing yet stressful trip. We decided to rent a car (Ireland drives on the left and has manual transmissions) and we took our first big trip with our baby (who is 16 months and has the will and attitude of a Fortune 500 CEO.)
   As the trip went on, I noticed there were three things I was much better at than my husband. I am not trying to toot my own horn here… there are a ton of things he is better at than me. However, these things resonated with me because they are things I think my job has taught me. Therefore things I think are significant for other teachers to notice and think about. The first was coping with being uncomfortable. I noticed I was much more comfortable with temperature differences, I could remain calm while being overheated in our hotel room with our crying toddler. The second was being able to notice when Olivia needed help regulating her emotions and body and being able to help her. The third was being flexible during sudden changes, like when we missed our ferry and had to change plans.
When it came to coping with emotional stressors three things stuck out to me.
   One, I could deal with being physically uncomfortable. My husband struggled with this, he works from home as a software engineer, and his job is incredibly predictable. However, being a teacher, my A/C works some days, I’m freezing during recess duty in the winter, and I’m often placed in physically uncomfortable circumstances because it’s just part of the job. I am used to the change in my physical comfort and it isn’t a big deal anymore.
   Two, I noticed when Olivia was overstimulated, hungry, tired, or just needed reassurance. This was magic to my husband because he was getting any of her cues. But I’m used to the irritability and quick change that happens to a child’s behavior when they are feeling overwhelmed, tired, or hungry. Another thing is, I was better at deciphering which one she was. If she was looking around frantically, wiggling, mouthing, and verbally escalating I took it as overwhelmed. I was right in most cases. She needed my help providing some sense of predictability and normalcy. I only knew this because when students are overwhelmed my first go to is be predictable, create a routine, and make them feel safe.
   Third, I was much more flexible at changing plans spontaneously. We missed our ferry, no problem, we’ll catch the next one. Can’t get dinner at the spot we wanted, no issue, we’ll go to the pizza joint down the street… It was a no-brainer for me. Again my husband struggled. He works in a setting where things have to operate on a strict schedule. I work in a setting where a strict schedule is laughable… seriously, good luck.
   I know that teaching has provided me with a lot of useful emotional and technical skills. These skills stood out to me at a time when I really needed them too. We had spent so much and invested so much time into planning this trip. If I didn’t have these specific skills for this trip it could have seriously been ruined. I was the rock in many cases. That makes me proud. I’m proud of what I do and who I have become because of it.
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