“You can do anything, but not everything…”

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!

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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.

EVERYTHING

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.

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5. Support is a vital lifeline

Communities are places where you can find support and friendships with like-minded people. The Opogo Community is a safe place for educators and there are friendships that can be forged online. It is the support of peers that cements friendship.

You can use the Opogo Community (community.opogo.com) even to just being an ear to listen! If you have a problem, it’s likely someone has been through it before and can help you using their own experience. There are a number of education experts aligned to the Opogo Community as well who are ready to help and provide advice to peers and professionals in education.

Hopefully, this article has provided a few ideas here that can help with own journey towards your own work/life balance!

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