When I first started at KIPP, I was a twenty-something single with a passion for teaching kids. Eight years later, I continue with KIPP as a thirty-something married mother of two beautiful girls under the age of three. It’s no secret we work hard at KIPP. “Work hard. Be nice.” is our central mantra. Being a mother also takes an incredible amount of hard work. There are a few key maxims that I follow to help me succeed as a committed mother and educator.
I find some alone time.
I wake up early…like really early. I have always been an early bird. The morning time is my time. I am up at 4:30 on weekdays to make my 5:30 a.m. yoga class and on the weekends I am up early enjoying coffee on the couch alone. Alone I think is the key word there. With all the hustle and bustle of the work week and the weekend, it’s so important to relish any moment I get alone to unwind, reflect, and relax.
I have become more organized.
I pack breakfast and lunches the night before, pick out outfits for myself and the girls, and have all bags ready to go. Getting four of us out of the house in a timely manner took some work, but we have managed to get to most places most of the time on time.
I do my best to live in the moment.
I find this one the hardest. At work, I find myself thinking about my family to-dos. At home, I find myself thinking about my work to-dos. I really have to make a conscious effort to be in the moment at work and at home. At work, I focus and execute on the tasks at hand. At home, I make sure to savor the spontaneous hugs from my kids. I also make it a point to put away my phone and computer at home and let my only job be Mom.
I have to let things go.
Often times, I have to leave work with a task undone. At home, it might be that last load of laundry I didn’t get to or the dishes in the sink. From learning to let things go, I have also learned how to prioritize what’s important and needs to get done now vs. not so important and not so urgent tasks. This frees up time and space for me to focus on what’s most important in that moment.
I remember the big picture.
What keeps me going each and every day is connecting to why I choose this profession and this organization. The mission of KIPP drives me to give my best not only to the students and teachers I work with, but also to my own children as well. Working at KIPP as a mom has made me a better teacher and administrator. Each and every child is as precious to their parents as my girls are to me. I work hard every day to provide a life changing education for my students. I work hard every day to provide those same opportunities for my own daughters. As parents, we want what is best for our children and we do the best we can to provide that.
I lean on the village.
It truly takes a village. At KIPP, we call this Team & Family. We work together and take care of each other. My kids are in the KIPP Daycare at the campus near my home. The women there love my girls and I can truly say my girls love school because of that. KIPP’s Team and Family love my own family. Whether it’s providing family housing at KSLP for 6 weeks of training or my best friend being able to check on the girls when she walks by the daycare, I have absolute trust in giving my most precious commodities over to hands of Big KIPPsters.
Being a mom and working at KIPP are both challenging and rewarding jobs. That being said, I love being a mom and I love working at KIPP. I have found the daily ingredients I need to make both work for me and my family every day.
Haley Simonton-Bonilla, KIPP Dream Prep's Dean of Early Childhood