Lemme tell you, I have never felt like more of a hot mess than since I started working in an elementary school full time, and adding grad school on top of it set me into a state of frenzy, to-do lists, and tiredness. Time for romance or friendships? HAH! Those became a thing of the past: until I decided to change that. When I realized I was taking work and school home with me to an unhealthy extent, I decided to make an effort to make time to live my life AND to do a good job.

Impossible? That’s what I thought too.

Until I started putting myself in my own planner, it actually has to be scheduled in my planner or I will neglect to take care of myself.  You need to make a “date” for yourself.

If you’re like me, self-care is not a self-involved obsession with the material world and physical looks.  It’s about finding a balance in life and staying healthy, mentally, physically, emotionally, which can be a tall order when it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Self-care is important.  Teaching means you are taking care of others all day, every day. It’s so exhausting there are no real words for it. You are responsible for 20+ little human’s emotional and academic growth for 10 months and you’re evaluated based on how they perform, talk about pressure. But you’re not a superhuman, you are a teacher, but you’re only human and you need to give yourself a break sometimes.

The most common thought I have during the day (apart from “how do I explain ‘yesterday’ and ‘tomorrow’) is “will I ever feel like there is enough time in the day?”

A few months into the school year: I realized definitively that no, I wouldn’t. So it was time to readjust my mindset.

A few things you’ll hear from teachers on a daily basis:

  • I just need 1 minute to use the restroom
  • It would be great if I got enough to sleep last night
  • “I’m 97% sure I have everything prepared”
  • When is that meeting again?
  • It would be great to have some more planning time
  • I cannot say enough about the value of velcro shoes
  • I swear the copier better be working today…

Just to name a few!

tired teacher

It can be all too easy to end up dreading a Sunday night and the 7 am rush to beat the school busses.

Here’s how I learned to combat my sliding mindset fueled by exhaustion and a negative dread:

teacher self care

  1. Weekend preparation for the upcoming week is your best friend. Meals, outfits, water bottles, lessons: you name it. Whatever you can get ready in advance, take the 5 minutes.
  2. On the same note, lay everything out the night before. Breakfast, 5 a.m running outfit, clothes for after, shoes: everything. 
  3. Make Sunday night special: a bubble bath, a dinner with friends, wine and a favorite movie, early bedtime, do what makes you feel good to get the week going on a happy foot on Monday.
  4. Seriously, make time to exercise every day or every other day.  It makes the constant up-and-down nature of the job and stress of constant questions a little easier to handle. Remember, you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.
  5. Make an alarm to go to bed and no matter what you have or haven’t done, go to bed.
  6. Actually schedule days to do something out of your comfort zone. Whether it be kayaking, hiking, an escape room, a winery, a free concert, saving up for a road trip, a day trip to the beach: think of something and let it be a goal.
  7. Really schedule days to pamper: brunch with a friend, doing your nails, getting your nails done, rock climbing: make sure there is something at least once a month where you are not taking care of someone else. It can be a short as 45 minutes once a month. You can and should set that much aside. It can help to put $5 aside every week for something special once a month.

We all go into teaching because of what we can give, but as I’ve learned, it’s important to maintain a life outside our careers. If only to keep our sanity.

teacher burnout

I understand the high expectations, but I also praise everyone who works their tails off and sometimes misses the mark, it’s ok! You’re still moving, you’re still doing great. The ever-changing nature of education makes it tough to get a solid footing without feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under you a little bit.

I cannot even comprehend being teacher and a mom, so to all you superheroes out there, I see how dedicated you are, you are noticed and applauded! YOU still matter too. You still deserve self-care and a little pampering from yourself!

Keep on swimmin fellow teacher friends, and make sure YOU are a priority too. You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself.

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