“Are you trying to have it all? That question makes no sense. It’s a stupid question. Stop asking it. Don’t ask it. Do you miss your kids while you’re at work? Yes, of course I do. Everybody does. And then, you know, sometimes I don’t” – Leslie Knope
Thank you, Leslie Knope. I won’t pose the question of having it all but here is another, similar question that a lot of us ponder.
Does work life balance actually exist?
Honestly, probably not. What I mean is, I don’t think there is a way to perfectly balance the time each day. Some days work will need more attention, some days your kids will, your spouse will, or YOU will. Even though the perfect balance may not exist, there are ways to set boundaries so that work doesn’t overtake other aspects of your life and vice versa.
2021 (and 2020!) has been a rough year for many of us to work on not letting work take over everything. Here are my 3 tips to help all of us achieve teacher work/life balance in 2021.
“Be where your feet are.”
I know a mental performance coach, who tells this to all of his clients. What does it mean? Work to have your mind and body in the same place. If you are a basketball player, during a game, be in the moment, have your head in the current play. Don’t focus on a previous play where you messed up, don’t waste time worrying about what’s going to happen in the 4th quarter.
Essentially, be present. This can take work to practice mindfulness and help you to be in the moment. It’s worth it to help you “be where your feet are.”
A few months back, the Wife Teacher Mommy team met with life coach, Lizzie Langston. One team member posed a similar question and Lizzie gave some great advice. She basically said that balance doesn’t really exist but that you need to make the choice of how to spend your time and then be content with your decision. Again, being present with whatever it is you are currently doing.
Have clear expectations for work-related communications
Do you have parents emailing, texting, and expecting responses 24 hours of the day? Teacher friend: you are NOT on call 24/7!
Set realistic boundaries and an auto-responder so parents know when to expect a response from you. Then stick to those expectations so the parents learn that you mean those boundaries that you set.
What those boundaries are, look different for each person. I had one co-worker who would check her email each night before bed, but not respond, so that she knew what she was facing the next morning. Another co-worker, who only checked her communications during contract hours. You need to set the boundaries that work best for you.
Make time for your hobbies
…because the time for them won’t come UNLESS you make the time!
Ask yourself: What are some of your hobbies you enjoy doing? Do you do them? Can you not even REMEMBER what they are because it’s been so long since you’ve allowed yourself to do them (guilty as charged!)
For me, reading for enjoyment has always been one of my favorite hobbies. But frankly, for YEARS it was something I wasn’t doing because I was spending all my time at work or being “mom”. But now, I make time for it and it’s helped ease worries and stresses from my mind by escaping into a good book… and I feel rejuvenated when it’s time to work or be “mom” again so I’m actually more productive when it’s time to do so!
Inspirational Words & More Tips
We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own “to-do” list. -Michelle Obama
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Stephen Covey
Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life- Dolly Parton
I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.” Oprah Winfrey
If you are not prioritizing balance, you are prioritizing unemployment- Jon Osborn
We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work has to come third. -Leslie Knope