New teachers, stop looking forward to the weekend if you want to do more than survive your first year and experience good teachers’ work-life balance. Whether it’s the start of the week or midweek, stop missing the opportunities to decompress during the week.
As teachers, we’re constantly hearing about how great school holidays are and that we’re only at work from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm. We should have loads of time, so what are we complaining about and why do we look so tired?
Unfortunately, it’s not true. In fact, new teachers, well, most teachers, stay at work far longer than the average person and even get to work incredibly early. A teacher’s workday doesn’t finish when students’ school day does – we have planning, marking and organising to complete.
It feels like the only way to keep up with the workload and manage time effectively is to carry on working when you get home. Whether it’s working whilst eating dinner, marking a couple of papers in bed before going to sleep or designing powerpoints whilst everyone else is watching TV.
With these tips for teachers’ work-life balance, you can reclaim your weeknights and feel energised in the morning, ready for work.
Whether you’ve just graduated or have returned to teaching, you’ve experienced incredible workloads. Typically, that leaves everything else that needs doing outside of work to the weekends.
The busy teachers' weekend
There is the universal idea that weekends are for pleasure, relaxation and hobbies whilst the weekdays are set for productive activities that lend themselves to help us at work.
If we leave everything joyful in life to the weekends, it creates the false perception that planning relaxing activities during the week is unproductive and a waste of time. Perhaps we won’t enjoy them as much because we’re thinking of work.
With this being said, pushing all of these activities to the weekends can cram everything positive and joyful into just two days. This activity could leave us worn out when it comes to Sunday evening, dreading the whole work week ahead. Trust me. It doesn’t work.
Think back to the last time a friend, family member or colleague asked for a catch-up. You look at your calendar and head straight to the weekend to see where you can make room for plans.
Ignoring your weeknights and setting those hours aside solely for grinding towards a successful work week creates an unhealthy idea that the only time to rest and recharge is on the weekends. It destroys that teachers’ work-life balance you need.
Now, we’re not saying kick your feet up on weeknights as soon as you get through the door. Nor relax for the rest of the evening like you would during the weekend. That may be counter-productive.
But, there does need to be a re-jiggling of sorts. We need to balance the scales between the productive work grind and the joyful pleasures of our lives.
Teachers' work-life balance tips
Everyone has an unending to-do list that doesn’t seem to get smaller. It does the opposite.
With these tips for teachers’ work-life balance, you won’t need to download those awkward to-do list apps that constantly remind you of the eternity of uncompleted tasks.
In total, there are three types of activities that your priorities should be split into:
- Long-Term Benefit
- Giving your time
Allowing yourself to participate in relaxing activities that you enjoy pleases you and allows you to rejuvenate during the workweek. Whilst you may feel some anxieties around these activities during the week as they’re not productive or may seem a waste of time with all the work you have to do, they can help you feel energised and more productive the next day.
As much as we wish we could always do things that please us, the reality is that some tasks do need to be done.
In comes long-term benefit activities. We mean completing activities that may not bring you any immediate satisfaction but certainly help you in the future. For example, for me, it is doing the laundry. While I may not enjoy folding clothes or putting them in the wash, I’m certainly far less stressed the next day when I don’t have piles of clothes to wash or put away.
Both new teachers and old will benefit from this. Think how free your weekend will feel if certain chores have been completed during the weeknights.
Finally, giving your time activities are the last set of priorities to concoct the perfect weeknight. These activities allow you to be unselfish and forget about yourself for a while. Whether volunteering at the local soup kitchen, going to community events or doing something that could help others, this sense of giving can be incredibly rewarding.
Try to separate this from any school event, so it’s part of your personal life. I see new teachers and even those of us who have been teaching a long time married to school life, which is unhealthy.
So, love to teach and live your life
By balancing this trifecta of activities that help you manage your time, you no longer need to live for the weekend to live your life.
There is no harm in doing things throughout the week that make you feel good, as long as you balance it with things that will benefit you long-term.