Updated: May 5, 2020
Hello again my wonderful teacher tribe! Regardless if you are a teacher fresh out of grad school, or a well seasoned veteran, self care is something we all need, yet most of the time put on the back burner. If you are anything like me, then you are a perfectionist when it comes to your job (Go you! You basically make work 10 times longer than it has to be). I sit and ponder if that bulletin board is really centered. I often get home and realize I didn't leave a sticky note by the AC explaining how to turn it on in great detail. You guys, I even worry about my outfit on the daily and if it makes me look "professional enough" to compensate for my age. (Pretty sure someone mentions that I look like I am in high school almost every day).
While those thoughts are totally okay, and it is totally fine to make sure everything is perfect down to the perfectly sharpened pencil on each of your students desks, girl you need to make time for yourself. This was probably the number one thing I lacked my first year teaching. Scratch that, that was the number one thing I just plain ol' didn't do my first year teaching and let me tell you, I found a WHOLE new definition of tired by the time just winter break came rolling by. I was teaching a combo, doing BTSA, getting my MA, and planning a wedding at the same time. I barely had time to pour my coffee in the morning. Did I mention I was driving almost an hour and a half to and from work every day? If you do not make time for yourself, there is no way you will make it as a teacher. I will say that one more time juuuust to make sure it stuck. If you do not make time for yourself, there is no way you will make it as a teacher (wellll maybe if you are superwoman...). So I am going to tell you a few strategies that work for me to make sure I stay sane.
1. Turn off work. Set a time for yourself, for me it about 5 PM and that is when you stop checking your emails, ClassDojo, Google Classroom, or whatever. Nothing school related gets even peeked at until tomorrow morning as I am getting ready. For me I had to tell myself if one of my students had an issue that they would survive. For those that have ClassDojo you can even set your own "quiet hours" so you don't get any notifications until you want to see them.
2. Do something that resets your brain. Do something for you as SOON as you get home. For me, it's running with Ralph. Not going to lie I totally despise running, but what gets me is the moment of quiet with just me, my dog and my fave jams pumping in my ears. Living by the beach, I even get a good view and the occasional sunset depending on what time I deem appropriate. It is also a great opportunity to think things through that may have happened that day, blow off steam if there is something bothering me and even brainstorm ideas. You guys, some of my best teaching ideas come after some of my longest runs.
3. Make time for family/friends. Weekends are for family & friends. This is something I even struggle with, and my husband is constantly reminding me to cool my jets. This is a goal I am setting for myself this year. No work unless my husband is out of town. You, my friend, have been working for 5 days in a row and need a mental recharge to live that life that exists outside of your classroom walls. Be present, aka no devices, and honestly do nothing school related (for once). Let's be honest, those papers that are sitting on your kitchen table are going to sit there the whole weekend anyways, so you might as well admit it to yourself and go do something you're going to enjoy. (You'll thank me and yourself later).
4. Treat yo'self. Okay, so this is one that probably needs some type of limit. I am not saying go crazy and spend that hard earned cash. Not. At. All. I am saying treat yourself at least once a month to something. Sometimes it is something small like a mani-pedi, and sometimes it is something bigger like that new dress from Jcrew. Sometimes it is not even money related, but spending time with my girl friends. Choose what is going to make you happy, and possibly make you scream in your head "I deserve this!" Sounds silly but it totally works. You make decisions for about 30 tiny humans, you deserve to make one small decision that is going to bring a smile to your face. So, be like Donna and Tom from Parks and Rec and Treat Yo' Self!
5. Sleep. Surprised aren't ya? But sleep is something that most of us teachers throw by the wayside. I cannot even count how many nights I have spent slapped to a computer, throwing together a last minute lesson. Why? because I tell myself "it will engage my students" or "THIS will definitely make that concept stick" or my personal favorite "it needs to look cute". You guys, your students are not going to care and guess what, if it really is a lesson you think will spice things up, write it down and work on it at a time that you won't be pressed for time. The best app on your iPhone is that darn sleep app. Choose what time you are going to wake up and how many hours of sleep you need and boom. It will remind you of when it is time for bed. I guarantee you are going to stop needing that second cup of coffee the next day.
And with that, girl those are all the things I do to make sure I am not punching in that time clock too early in the year. I wake up refreshed and excited to go to work each and every day. Yes you read that correctly, genuinely excited to go to work. I promise you, if you begin to make time for yourself, and keep work and home separate you too will be excited everyday. I really, truly hope you take these to heart and practice them because you will see a huge change in your attitude and outlook about work, trust me!