When I decided to become an educator, I understood that my work week would extend beyond 40 hours and that my day did not end at 5 o’clock. I expected to take baggage home with me- literal and emotional. I knew what I was getting into and I welcomed that lifestyle because I knew I was following my heart.
However, after my daughter was born, I began feeling resentful about the high expectations placed upon my shoulders. I devoted more time to my students than my daughter, and she spent more time with her teachers than with me. I was jealous, angry, and resentful.
At the same time, I knew my students were depending on me because, similar to my daughter, they spent more time with me than with their own families. They deserved my very best every single day. I knew they needed me. Their parents needed me.
The work teachers do is important and it matters.
Knowing that didn’t change my feelings of resentment. In fact, knowing that so many people were relying on me felt overwhelming. I realized that I couldn’t continue to live in this survival-mode mentality. I had to be intentional about my time. I had to make my family as much of a priority as my students. I had to work towards finding a balance.
Whether you have kids or not, there is someone in your life that deserves your love and attention just as much as your students. Maybe it’s your husband, your brother, your roommate, or your dog. They need you to be present in their lives. Don’t perpetuate a cycle of neglect like I made the mistake of doing.
Be intentional about finding a balance. Your loved ones will be happier. Your students will be happier. YOU will be happier.
10 Ways to Find a Balance Between Home and Work
- Set a time to leave. If I want to spend time alone or with my family, I leave at 4:00. If I need to finish something at work, I leave at 5:00. Here’s the key: I alternate which days I leave at 4 or 5 so that I’m distributing my time appropriately.
Find a time that works for you.
- Plan ahead. Before you leave on Friday, have next week planned out with everything printed. If Wednesday is always your late night, ask your husband to cook dinner every Wednesday. If you’re proactive in planning ahead, you won’t feel like you’re in survival mode.
- Leave it in your car. (Adapted from Kids Deserve It by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney) Don’t let your students bear the brunt of your stress. Don’t let your family be an after-thought at the end of a long day. Leave it in your car!
- Learn when to say no. Play to your strengths- If you’re not going to grow immensely as an educator and you don’t feel like you’ll add true value to that committee, don’t join it. Simple as that!
- Set priorities and take things off your to-do list. Consider: What has to get done, what can wait, and what can be abandoned? If it’s been on your to-do list for a month, it’s really just taking up space in your brain and adding stress to your life.
- Agree to less social events. Give time to people who are supportive and bring you up in life. You don’t have to attend that wedding just because they went to yours. You don’t have to spend every holiday with your (crazy) extended family. Be selfish with your time and give it to those that deserve it.
- Be intentional about your time management. I give myself three hours on Sundays for personal responsibilities. The rest of my weekend is devoted to my family. Carve out time in your week to focus on specific goals.
- Delegate responsibilities. If you try to do it all by yourself, you will inevitably fall short. Rely on your tribe, ask for help, and set expectations at home and work.
- Unplug. It’s ironic that humans complain about never having enough time, yet American’s spend over 3 hours a day on their phone. Put it down and be present in the moment.
- Communicate your needs. So often overlooked, but this is probably the most important item on the list. Being passive aggressive only makes people feel uncomfortable. Be open and honest about your needs. When others step in to help, you’ll be more successful in finding a balance between home and work.
Just remember, finding a balance can never be achieved if you don’t also make yourself a priority. You matter. Self-care matters. Finding a balance matters.
Be selfish with your time. Give it to those that deserve it.