As we approach the end of Mental Health Awareness Week – and of course SATs week – we felt it was important to reflect on our ‘wellbeing’.
We wanted to share how we can develop (and maintain!) a greater balance of working hard whilst balancing our personal life, without also burning out. It sometimes feels like an impossible task, doesn’t it?
We’ve been there.
We’ve doubted ourselves. We’ve overthought situations. We’ve let anxieties control us. We’ve let other people’s opinions steer us. We’ve gone home and wrapped up in a blanket like an anxious burrito and refused to move for hours. We’ve both even considered leaving the profession we love.
But, despite the thoughts and feelings we’ve had in the (fairly recent!) past, we had to find a way to overcome these emotions which, at one point, took over our lives. Eventually, we saw the light.
After making time for self-care, our friends, family and things we enjoy doing – we soon noticed how the little things could make the difference. We found balance. These experiences were what ensured we became strong advocates for teacher wellbeing.
In reality, why are we bothered what other people think? In the words of Sarah Knight, ‘You do you’.
Making time for ourselves and the things we love doing may seem really obvious, yet it is still something so many teachers find tricky to prioritise. Often, we unrealistically over-commit to work meaning that there is no time left for the ‘luxury’ of ‘me time’. Time which we so desperately need! So how can we, as teachers, find that perfect balance?
Teacher wellbeing is an interesting subject. It’s often shouted about widely on social media platforms and the ‘wellbeing police’ soon come out in full force during school holidays. God forbid you are caught reading educational books during holidays; creating resources for your school and the wider community; planning topic work or even spend time in school!
To support other teachers in their journey to finding their balance, we’ve teamed up with Opogo to write our 5 ‘top tips’ to achieving that all important ‘work-life balance’:
1. It is okay to say no
Really, it is. We know that at times the guilt sets in and we feel that in order to demonstrate our dedication and commitment to our work, we must say yes.
It can be so easy to fall into the trap of saying yes and over-committing to a number of tasks. Eventually, we just feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what we have taken on. It’s true – we can do anything, but not everything.
2. Give yourself permission to switch off
This has – and continues to be – one of the most challenging aspects of the job for both of us. As cliche as it may be, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
3. Change your mindset
Going to a restaurant, how often do you actively give positive feedback? Usually, as a society, we make time to complain rather than compliment. Is it any different in teaching?
By creating a positive atmosphere for ourselves by complimenting colleagues but most importantly, ourselves, we are enabling a positive, growth mindset. The same mindset we encourage the children we teach to have.
4. Make time for the things and people you love
This is the most personal and for many, the most important element of finding balance. Sometimes, whatever line of work we are in, work can take over and we prioritise looming deadlines, replying to emails and planning for school over what really matters.
For a career that ‘starts at 9 and goes home at 3’ (lol) we don’t see nearly enough of our loved ones! Make sure at least two days a week you are spending time with people who matter.
5. Support is a vital lifeline
We became friendly on Twitter through a mutual enjoyment of Love Island, but what really cemented our friendship was the support we could both offer each other. During a really rough time, it became such a lifeline to discuss with each other what we were going through and give ideas, advice and support to make that time easier.
Even if it was just being an ear to listen! We are big advocates for Twitter, not just as a tool to find amazing resources, but as a place to discover a supportive, friendly group of peers. If you have a problem, it’s likely someone has been through it before and can help you using their own experience.
Hopefully, a few ideas here can help with your own work/life balance, as it has helped us! As always, if you feel you need support with anything you have read in this blog, our DMs are open.
B & W x
To find out more about Emily and Charlotte, catch their behind-the-scenes thoughts on teaching by following them across twitter - their individual handles can be found by clicking their names below.
To read more posts of a similar nature, you can find them over on their co-founded blog here.
About our Guest Writers
Year 6 teacher
Emily is an experienced year 6 teacher with direct experience teaching across KS2.
With a great passion for books and literature, Emily is also the reading lead within the school she works at, helping to mentor students through her interest in wellbeing.
Charlotte is an experienced KS2 teacher who is currently a KS2 lead in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).
She is incredibly passionate about developing and supporting inclusion within education, as well as creating a love of learning and inspiring our future generation.