Finding Balance

shutterstock_95734291By Katie Doyle — The work-life balance is something that is difficult to maintain in most careers.  I’ve found it is especially difficult in the field of education.

I am at school eleven hours each day.  When I get home, I have more work to do for school before the next day.  One hour of prep time during school hours is simply not enough to finish everything I need to get done for the school day, so at times it is necessary to bring work home.  For a while, I got stuck in a rut.  I worked all day, then came home, ate dinner, and worked until it was time for bed. I did that five days a week, and then had more to do on weekends.

It can get frustrating to feel like school and my students consume my whole life.  However, not bringing work home caused a guilt trip.  Am I doing everything I can to make sure my students succeed?  If I’m not doing work at home, I can’t finish everything I need to do at school, and then something is left missing.

Serving as a leader on my team has taught me a few valuable lessons about finding a work-life balance.

  • Do a few things with excellence instead of a lot of things with mediocrity.  Right now I’m learning to delegate so that everything is done excellently and we are all only responsible for a few things.
  • Take time for yourself.  I made a rule that Saturdays are my day.  I do yoga, spend time with friends, and try not to think about school.  Remember that in order to serve your students to the best of your ability, you need to take care of yourself.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It sounds cliché, but it’s true.  Chances are you’ll probably laugh about how small it was later, so don’t stress about it now.
  • Remember that what you are doing is important.  Educators tend to have martyr syndrome.  What we do everyday can seem so mundane and routine.  We forget that some of the things students achieve are amazing.  Every student is important, and every small impact is actually not small at all.  Remembering that what I am doing is important is what rejuvenates me after a long week and keeps me pushing through the year.

I have not found the perfect balance between my work life and my personal life.  It is a constant struggle to remember to put work away and take care of myself first, but I have learned not to internalize my students’ problems and let them take over my life.  Finding some sort of balance is necessary for my health and sanity, and I think it improves the experience for my students as well.

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