As teachers, it is easy to let our own wellbeing get lost within the role, as we spend our whole day caring for others. We wanted to share with you a few tips on how you could develop (and maintain!) a good balance of working hard, whilst still having a rich personal life and not burning yourself out.
Yes, this can sound and feel like an impossible task, and naturally, these tips will have to be tailored to fit you; each of us is different.
5 Work-Life Balance Tips
- It is ok to say no.
- Give yourself permission to switch off.
- Change your mindset.
- Make time for the things and people you love.
- Support is a vital lifeline.
We’ve been there.
Doubt. Over-thinking. Listening to others instead of knowing our own worth. Work-related Stress. These feelings have all left us feeling like we want to go home, wrap ourselves in a duvet like an anxious burrito and stay there for the rest of the day.
And because of this overwhelming feeling of anxiety, both of us have considered, at one point, leaving the profession we love.
We both had to find a way to overcome these emotions which were taking over our life. After making time for self-care, our friends, family and other things we enjoy doing, it became evident that just small changes could make a huge difference.
We found balance, which looked so impossible before. It is these experiences which have made us become such strong advocates for teacher wellbeing. We need to prevent outstanding, creative, experienced teachers leaving the profession because this balance is so hard to currently achieve.
Making time for ourselves and the things we love to do may seem really obvious but it is something that we, as teachers, constantly find hard to prioritise.
Our to-do lists become never-ending, and it can be tricky to know what to prioritise. We often over-commit to work leaving us no disposable leisure time for ourselves: ‘me time’ which we all desperately need.
How can we find that perfect work-life balance?
We both find that teacher wellbeing is an interesting subject because opinions differ so widely on the internet, social media and even within the staff room.
Reading educational books, doing reports or planning and marking can be frowned upon by others when you do it in the holidays. ‘Take a break!’ people cry.
But isn’t wellbeing all about what works for you?
If someone chooses to take a day of holiday getting work done, even choosing to go into school, maybe it reduces their workload for the following term, allowing them to have some early evenings at home with the family.
As teachers, we need to do what works for us: we are all individuals and our lives will need differentiation. We wouldn’t expect all children to work the same, so why do we think it’s a one-size fits all for our own ways of working?
So, here are our tips which may help you find balance on your own wellbeing journey:
1. It is ok to say no.
Really, it is. We know that at times the guilt sets in and we feel that in order to demonstrate our dedication and commitment to our work, we must say yes.
But this isn’t the case.
If you take on too much, it will never be done to the best of your ability – be honest with yourself, and your colleagues, about what amount of work you can do that day, week or even term. It’s true – we can do anything, but not everything.
2. Give yourself permission to switch off.
This has – and continues to be – one of the most challenging aspects of the job for both of us. Being a teacher is not just a job – it is a vocation.
This means we often find it hard to leave school and switch off. There is always something more you could do. But, as cliche as it may be, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Sometimes, you need to completely switch off and just spend time on you.
3. Change your mindset.
If you go to a restaurant, how often do you actively give positive feedback?
Usually, as a society, we make time to complain rather than compliment. Is it any different in teaching? By creating a positive atmosphere we teach to have for ourselves by complimenting colleagues but most importantly, ourselves, we are enabling a positive, growth mindset.
This is the same mindset we encourage the children in our classes to have.
4. Make time for the things and people you love.
This is the most personal and for many, the most important element of finding balance. It is easy to prioritise work over your own life.
Reports to do, resources to create, marking to finish. But people won’t look back in life and think, ‘I wish I worked more!’. So, make sure at least two days a week you are spending time with people who matter.
Otherwise, what’s the point of working our butts off?
5. Support is a vital lifeline.
We became friendly on Twitter through a mutual enjoyment of Love Island, but what really cemented our friendship was the support we could both offer each other.
During a really rough time, it became such a lifeline to discuss with each other what we were going through and give ideas, advice and support to make that time easier. Even if it was just being an ear to listen!
Don’t try to be a lone wolf, reach out to other teachers, we are all amazing and will ALWAYS help a teacher in need. Together we are strong.
We are big advocates for Twitter, not just as a tool to find amazing resources, but as a place to discover a supportive, friendly group of peers. If you have a problem, it’s likely another teacher has been through it before and can help you using their own experiences.
Hopefully, a few ideas here can help with your own work/life balance, as it has helped us! As always, if you feel you need support with anything you have read in this blog, our DMs are open. You can find Emily here and Charlotte here. (You can also find teacherofsci on Twitter here).
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