How much is too much?  I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve asked or been asked for the answer to that question during my lifetime.  It simply is not an easy question…no matter what subject may be the pressing matter at hand.

            I’ve already addressed this question concerning homework for students.  But the first thought that comes to my mind is the information load being thrust upon all of us today.  “TMI” has become the byword for much of TV with its plethora of advertising.  Bodily functions of every sort have become the subject matter of commercials all day long.  My students are much more aware of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (thanks to the animations and silly characters portraying body parts), and the use of sleep aides.

            I run into trouble with the “too much information” situation when part of my first grade class talk freely about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.  For every child who still looks forward to meeting these characters, I have a handful who are called by a “noble” cause to set the record straight for these poor misguided individuals.  “Silly…there’s no such thing!  It’s just your parents!”  Then I spend uncomfortable moments trying to soothe over the situation without “giving out too much information” myself. 

            I know other areas of concern include how much we give of ourselves on the job, in our family responsibilities, our church and social lives.  If you’re a workaholic like me, it becomes a juggling act of mammoth proportions.  As a young administrator, I chose to teach a full day of classes and completed my administrative responsibilities before I awakened the family for the day’s beginning.  I finished them up in the night hours after I put them all to bed.  I survived upon four to five hours of sleep a night.  It worked for me…but I don’t recommend it to anyone.

            Now that I am one of the owners of our school corporation, I still put in the hours and teach a full load.  I can’t make do on less than six hours of sleep anymore, but I do a lot of extra work all weekends.  It’s the same story for my family members who work in this business.  However, each of us has to judge for ourselves what we are willing to give in order to make this school successful.

            The lessons I’ve learned over 50 years are these: nothing is more important than your family relationships, so keep them a top priority; learn to put some things aside undone – they won’t be well-done anyway if you aren’t in the best of moods or attention spans; learn to say “no” when you know in your heart that you are covered up in work; and set aside time now and then to get away from work, home, etc. and refresh yourself. 

            I once asked my computer tech if I should have students turn computers off each day, or if I should leave them on always.  She said, “Like motors, they need rest now and then.  Eventually, the toll on the parts will cause sudden death.  Nothing lasts forever.  Besides, just because no one is working on that computer at the moment, it doesn’t mean the internal parts aren’t working and heating up.”  The same is true of the brain and involuntary muscles of our bodies.  Give them a rest!       

-          Kay