Do you want to know something I am terrible at? Teacher work life balance.
I think every teacher can relate to this, especially at the beginning of their career or when they make a transition to a new school or role. Depending on the time of year, I am juggling a lot of pieces and can’t help but feel like I drop the ball, or most of the balls I’m trying to juggle.
Think of your list of everything you are trying to juggle. Here’s mine, maybe yours is similar: teaching, planning, grading, parent meetings, staff meetings, extra school responsibilities, family, friends, church, working out, a significant other, laundry, cleaning, meal prep…I’m sure there are more, but that list alone already includes many balls that get dropped on a regular basis. I feel such a strong obligation to my students, who need so much more of my time and attention than I am ever able to give. This pushes me to want to plan so purposefully that I can meet all of their needs and help them grow academically, socially and emotionally to a level above where they need to be ready for next year. Am I putting too much pressure on myself? Probably, but I think as teachers we can all understand that.
I am in no way great at balancing my work life and home life as a teacher, but here are the few tips that I can offer to help you:
Be intentional with planning This means that you set aside time to sit down and do your lesson plans, uninterrupted. It means that you block out times to fit in your workouts, chores, and personal obligations. It means that you make the most of your time with family, friends and your significant other. You will always have a million things to do, but you are worth investing in just as much as your students are!
Say no Would it be nice to have that extra committee at school or to have the best math packets to support your lesson? Of course. Is it always possible or realistic for you to do that? No. Don’t be afraid to say no. Personally, I do not check my work email on Saturday or Sunday. Those are my days to fill myself back up to try and be ready for the week ahead and my work email can wait until Monday morning. Make a list of things you are willing to take home. I will bring home grading but that’s about it. All planning gets done at school, which gives the the freedom to know that when I leave every day I don’t have to worry about as much for school.
Give yourself breaks I know exactly when my break times are in my week. I know exactly when date night is. I know that I will see my family, who all live 2-5 hours from me, on my long breaks from school. Purposefully give yourself breaks to look forward to. Have a girls night or an afternoon of reading a book. Take time to unplug from everything and enjoy where you are in your life right now!
This is one of the biggest areas that I hear every person in my school say that they struggle with at some point or another over the course of the school year. You are only valuable to your students when you allow yourself to refuel and fill up your personal battery. Make the time! You, awesome teacher, are worth it!