I’m so excited to have a guest blogger blog for me today! The below post is by Sarah who runs Teach and Be Well, a fitness and wellness blog designed to help busy teachers take better care of themselves. She believes that a healthy lifestyle is essential preventing teacher burn out. You can find more about her, as well as self-care ideas, recipes, and more at www.teachandbewell.com
There are very few jobs that take as much work outside of the “workday” as teaching. We grade, we lesson plan, and heaven help you if you coach an extra-curricular activity. Sometimes it can feel like a struggle to find balance, and then we just shrug and say “that’s why we get breaks”. But the truth of the matter is we can burn ourselves out very quickly this way. We need to be more intentional with balancing our day-to-day lives. Below I’ve outlined 3 tips that will help you as you seek to find that balance in your own life.
- Reverse schedule your time- Working at home is sort of an inevitability for most teachers. If we didn’t, things just wouldn’t get done. But that doesn’t mean that it has to take over your life. Try reverse scheduling your at home “work time”. Start with your set schedule, i.e. what time you usually get home from school, any after school commitments, etc. Then add in things you’d like to make more of a priority in your life, like getting more sleep, having time to workout, etc. Finally, schedule your work into the remaining time. You may need to have some flexibility here. Maybe you really wanted to workout 3 days a week, but you know you’ll get behind on grading, so you only schedule 2 days. Or maybe your ideal bedtime is 9 pm, but that doesn’t give you enough time in the day, so you go with 9:30. The idea is to divide up your time and predetermine how you’re going to spend it so that one thing doesn’t take over (ahem.. grading!)
- Have a regularly scheduled “thing”- Try to schedule in an activity that is consistent week to week. Maybe you join a book club or a crafting class. Or maybe you make every Tuesday night “date night”. Over time it will become a regular part of your schedule and you’ll avoid scheduling other things in that time slot, “Oh, I can’t. Wednesday nights are my salsa dancing nights.” Bonus points if you can schedule 2 nights a week for yourself, one fitness related and one hobby or relationship related.
- Learn to say no- I completely understand why people have a hard time with this one. I often have trouble saying no to things my friends ask me to do, especially if I don’t have a good excuse. We all need to stop this. It’s time to realize that needing a night at home is a perfectly valid excuse. Another mindset change I had to make was recognizing that teaching is an act of service, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty about saying no to extra service projects, mentor-ships, etc. I’ve found that as a teacher I’m pouring into kids all day, and I need activities in my life that fill me back up. I still, of course, do meaningful projects outside of school, I’m just more selective about what they are.
Work-life balance isn’t something that just happens because we want it to. You have to be intentional in creating that space. I’d love to know how you find balance in your life, let me know in the comments!