‘Is there really such thing as a work/life balance when you are an educator?’
Some of you will say yes, some of you will shrug and some of you will totally disagree but with whatever job you choose to do, finding a work/life balance is a necessity. As an educator myself, I do find it very challenging to make time for my planning (even though I’m supply/cover and don’t really need to do much) and my social life (i.e: spending time with family, friends, making time for hobbies and other forms of self care). While, we can agree that this is a struggle, it isn’t impossible.
If we don’t take the time to pay attention to our needs as well as our responsibilities, we will suffer. Emotionally, physically, and in severe cases, mentally.
Here are some tips that I would like to share with you that help me (and will hopefully help you) keep and maintain a work/life balance:
Have a plan – ‘Planning’ is the word every educator dreads hearing (because it takes up a great deal of our time) but its important to actually plan your planning. Use a notebook or an organiser to write down which lessons/resources you are going to plan/prepare first. Having a plan for your planning makes life so much easier (even if you’re doing paperwork, have a plan!). Sometimes working sporadically can cause burnout because you could easily become overwhelmed. It’s actually been proven that having ‘to do lists’ and ticking each thing off as you go promotes a sense of self satisfaction.
Give yourself a break – This is the one thing we fail to do as educators. Sometimes it feels like there are a million and one things to do in one day and each day is a endless struggle to be a modern day superhero. It’s important to give yourself time out if you want a healthy work/life balance. Don’t feel bad about it either. Stop working on Friday evenings, try to do something nice on a Saturday/Sunday. Taking time out helps you to recharge and unwind. It also improves concentration and increases productivity.
Stay healthy – Working from 6am – 6pm some days will have you reaching for caffeine and sugar (trust me) but its important to eat as healthily as you can. In a school/college/uni day, so much is expected from educators. We need to teach our students, mark their work, plan activities/assemblies and so much more. It is a very demanding role and if you are healthy and you are eating right, you will be able to perform better in your role (and hopefully avoid sick days).
Support support, support- As mentioned in the previous point, so much is expected from educators these days. Make sure you have a strong and supportive circle. Family, friends and colleagues that you can confide in when you get stressed. This is so important because the worst thing you could possibly do for yourself is bottle up all your feelings and emotions. As well as being on the receiving end of support, make sure you are giving it too. Remember, once upon a time you were a trainee. You may have a junior member of staff or a support that needs some kind words of reassurance from time to time.
Manage your time – It’s nice to feel like a modern day superhero but remember that your time is precious and it is your responsibility to use it effectively. It would be amazing to help everyone with everything because that’s what you may feel naturally inclined to do – but are you doing it at the risk of your own productivity? If so, then you need to take a back seat and learn how to use the word NO. No is such a simple word yet it is incredibly difficult to say because we fear that we will be judged or condemned. Be honest and assertive over what you can do and what you can’t do. Saying NO isn’t as bad as you think it is.
These are some things that help when trying to maintain a work/life balance. In addition to the tips I’ve shared, I think that you need to have an open mind first of all. No two days are the same. Some days, you will leave school feeling so tired you’ll be contemplating your career choice, while other days you’ll be feeling like you have the best job in the world.
To educate means to teach, inform or inspire others. You are contributing to help mould the future generation. Whether you are a teacher, supply teacher, teaching assistant or 1:1 support worker, you really do have the greatest gift of all, and that gift is making a valuable difference to children’s lives every single day.
Keep up the good work (and don’t forget to take care of you!)
This post is in collaboration with SupplyNow.
SupplyNow recruit supply staff (teachers, cover supervisors, TA’s) in schools through their much talked about app. The process of booking work through the app means more pay for teachers and less fees for the schools that recruit them. It’s a win win situation so if you are looking for school based work, get in touch with them here.
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