One of the biggest struggles in the start of the school year is creating a healthy work/life balance. This is something I really struggle with and have been actively working on for years. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it will never be perfect. It will always be a work in progress and the balance will probably always feel a little off. The start of the school year is consuming. We work so hard to get our classrooms perfectly setup, learn about our new students, train our staff, get our instruction rolling, and so much more. There is a lot of pressure – much of which is self induced – to work extra hard at the start of the year to ensure a smoother rest of the school year. Which is true, I am a big advocate of setting yourself up for success. However, sometimes this extra push comes at the cost of our emotional well-being, family time, health, and over all sanity.
So today let’s not chat about schedules, data, or visuals. Let’s not worry about tomorrow’s lesson plans or the year’s curriculum maps. Let’s take a breath. Let’s pat ourselves on the back for all the hard work we have done so far. Let’s unplug and unwind and take a little me-time. And don’t you dare feel bad. Yes you could be spending the afternoon laminating file folders and photocopying worksheets but I promise you – the world will go on if you don’t. If you spend an afternoon taking your kids to the park, cooking dinner, or watching netflix in bed – you will be a better teacher tomorrow, worksheets or not.
My go-to tips for when my balance is going out of whack:
- Sleep. Sleep solves almost all of the world’s problems. So many major issues seem easily solved after a few nights with an easy bedtime. So put your phone far away from your bed (avoid the pinterest/facebook black hole) and get some rest.
- Designate no work zone/time. I have to use some of the same strategies I do with my students. I set up a schedule and utilize some prompts. I add some no-work times into my calendar. I set an alert to remind me (#visualsforadults). And I make sure to follow that rule. I put my phone on do-not-disturb and take a little time off. Sometimes I don’t want to and sometimes it’s not convenient because I have a ton going on but I never regret it. Never.
- Work out. Now let me just preface this by saying that I am not one of those people who like to work out. Actually I hate working out. If I didn’t love ice cream and wine so much I would have no use for a gym membership. But unfortunately, I like to eat so I need to get my butt moving. Working out almost immediately goes to the bottom of my priority list when I get busy. It takes no convincing since I don’t really like doing it all that much. But honestly, getting those endorphins going is one of the best stress relievers. And again you never regret working out and always feel better after.
- Healthy venting. Sometimes you just need a good b*&%ch session. You don’t want to problem solve. You don’t want to figure out a solution. You just want to complain to someone and them tell you, “that sucks.” I have had many a meltdowns because whoever I was engaging in a venting session with wanted to help me. And there are times when you just don’t want help. So now I tell my husband, “let me complain to you for 5 minutes and get it out and not problem solve.” Tell your listeners what you need from them. Don’t vent to your paraprofessionals! Vent to a 3rd party that is away from school.