Teachers inevitably face certain challenges throughout each school year. Every educator is unique, so what plagues one teacher in August may not affect another until the following April. Sure enough, though, like Freddy Kreuger stalking you in your dreams, it is inescapable. I'm talking about burnout, lack of sleep, and the demands of being a full-time everything.
For me, it's all about trying to figure out how I can achieve the balance in my life that my responsibilities demand and my family deserves. Sure, I could work endlessly, or ignore my responsibilities in favor of playing a board game with my kids, but reality sets in and I realize that neglects me. Even though I try to be a pretty selfless person (I think most teachers are), I finally realized that I had to make myself somewhat of a priority so that I could remain effective in my day job and have the energy and spirit to support my own kids through their academic journeys.
Boy, is it tough. After reflecting some time, I came to learn that for me, finding the balance wasn't about doing more or doing less. For me, it is about doing best. Below are 5 things I'm doing (and not doing) to maintain my balance. I'm really interested in hearing what your strategies are.
- Read - I have zero time to read, and I often find myself to be so tired I make it about 5 minutes before I am out. However, I am a big believer in Stephen Covey's "Sharpen the Saw" mantra, and for me reading is mental exercise. One of my goals is to share my view with others and hopefully start a book study in my school.
- Walk - Walking accomplishes two important things in my life. First, the exercise is something I cannot get enough of. More importantly, however, is the freedom that comes with walking alone and embracing some quiet time. I do some of my best thinking while I am walking, but I also benefit from emptying my mind and releasing my stress.
- Write - I am committing to writing more for this website. My colleague, Mike Stein, is killing it and publishing really thoughtful pieces. I miss contributing. Sometimes when I write, I really am looking for an excuse to vent. I have avoided doing that, and instead searched for opportunities to write solutions-oriented reflections. This didn't start as a list of five strategies, but it evolved into one.
- Clean - I know this sounds crazy and it may be spurred by my obsessive compulsive tendencies. But I have found that cleaning HELPS me find my focus when I struggle with it. The tasks are simple, I know I can have success, and I receive instant gratification from living in a clean space. Actually, this makes perfect sense.
- Podcasts - Most importantly, I am a podcast junkie. I love the stories that are told on the true crime podcasts I listen to. I get lost in the story and I really develop my listening skills by paying close attention and reflecting on the questions/solutions I form.
These 5 things are working for me right now, and I encourage you give one of them a shot if you go through any of the normal struggles I do.