How to Create Better Work Life Balance as a Teacher
With the start of the school year, it’s difficult to let go of the carefree days of summer for the busyness that going back to school brings. While finding a balance between work and life is difficult for many, it’s particularly difficult for teachers, whose work is not over when the final bell rings.
What should overworked teachers do to help balance the demands of the classroom with the demands of home, and hopefully manage to find some “me” time in between? Here are just a few tips to begin mastering home and school life balance.
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Simple Tips for Work Life Balance
1 | Meal Plan and Prep
By nature, teachers are planners. We are constantly planning lessons, how to manage kids, activities, materials, meetings, professional development, and more. It can be difficult for upper elementary teachers to find time to eat lunch, let alone make meals at home!
One way that you can save time is to maximize the time that you spend meal planning, especially at the beginning of the school year.
I’ll be honest, this was one of the best things I did for myself. I spent a few hours on the weekend washing, chopping, and cooking in order to have snacks and lunches prepped for the week. I focused on items I could eat easily within my short lunch and planning periods. Hard boiled eggs, cut veggies with ranch, meat and cheese rolls were just a few of my go-tos every week.
If you’re anything like me, I doubt you feel much like cooking a big dinner after a long day of teaching. Prepping or preplanning a couple of weekly meals will save you hours of time during the week.
Double the recipes you make so that you have leftovers to eat though the week or freeze half to use later. Start a collection of recipes on Pinterest for quick and easy meals that you can throw together without much prep.
2 | Outsource Your Workload
If you’re like most teachers, you often find that you have fewer hours in the day than you need to get everything done at home and school. Outsourcing some of your weekly tasks will free up valuable time to spend doing more important things like spending time with your family.
Note: Everyone’s financial situation is different and some of these ideas aren’t possible for everyone, I realize. The point of this list is to get you thinking of things you could possibly take off your plate.
Here are a few simple ways to outsource your workload.
Use the grocery store’s online platform to order your groceries. You can easily add ingredients to your cart, check out, and just drop by to pick up your goods. It’s an efficient way to save time and get more done.
Hire Help at Home
Consider hiring someone to clean your house once or twice a month. This may prove particularly helpful when you have mounds of laundry that you can send to a laundry service or dry-cleaner. This time saved at home truly can improve your home and school life balance.
For years I wanted to hire someone to help me at home, but didn’t feel I could afford it. The idea also made me feel guilty. As I should be able to handle cleaning my own house.
Once I realized how much time I could gain by taking this task off my plate, I created some space in the budget. It meant cutting back in other areas (giving up expensive coffee drinks, eating out a little less, etc.), but it was more than worth it.
If the idea of hiring a housekeeper makes you feel a little guilty (as it did me), think of it this way - not only would you relieve a great deal of your own workload, but you’d also help someone else provide for their family. Someone who might desperately need a little extra income to make ends meet.
Barter and Trade
If your finances are especially tight, consider finding ways to partner with a friend and trading services. For example, you and your partner know that a regular date night is important for a healthy relationship. But you don’t have the money for a sitter.
Find a friend who’s in a similar situation and trade. One weekend a month, you watch her kids (and yours) while your friend and her partner go out. Two weeks later, she returns the favor.
You and your honey get your much needed date night, your friend does too, and the kids get two play dates a month with their friends. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Partnering with other teachers and moms to share duties is the perfect no-cost way to gain a little more balance in your life.
Hire a Teaching Assistant
Ok, so you can’t hire a full-time assistant to help you at school every day (although I think all teachers need one). But - there are ways to get help with your teacher workload.
“Hire” a high school student as an assistant to grade simple assignments, change bulletin boards, or make copies. If your district allows you to use student volunteers, some of them may be looking for volunteer hours or need job experience anyway.
Another way to outsource your teacher tasks is by purchasing pre-made lesson plans and activities for your students or simply having emergency sub plans ready to go. Utilizing high quality resources will free hours of time you’d otherwise spend planning and creating your own materials.
> For more about utilizing help, see this post.
3 | Unwind and Recharge
There are simple ways to recharge during the hectic school year. Here are some quick tips to help you recharge in no time:
To make the most out of your shower, try aromatherapy shower tablets to help you wake up and energize before your morning cup of coffee.
Try using meditation or mindfulness apps during your ride home to decompress from the day’s stresses.
Find quick workouts that are flexible enough to enable you to get a good sweat in minimal time. YouTube has plenty of accounts that offer quick workouts for free that will seamlessly become part of your routine.
>For more self care tips, see this post.
Going back to school does not mean that you have to sacrifice your sanity. With the right tools, your home and school life balance can lean in your favor. Enjoy your year!
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