I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this one. It wasn’t until my third practicum that I learned the importance of work life balance. Since my first two practicums were so short, I was able to power through and become a workaholic with no social life. However, since my last practicum lasted for four months, I couldn’t do that anymore without risking burning myself out. My last mentor teacher gave me this advice: Take care of yourself.
I hear this again and again. Fast forward two years to today – I still hear it, from colleagues and from my principal. Before report cards were due in November, my principal stopped by my classroom during a planning day and asked me what I did for fun. He told me to make sure I take time for myself. What he said next surprised me – he told me, “And if having a life outside of school means that some lessons won’t be as perfect as you’d like them to be, so be it!”
Being someone who holds high expectations for themselves and is constantly hard on themselves, I really needed to know this. I remember depriving myself of sleep in my last practicum because I still hadn’t put together the perfect activity or worksheet. I was miserable and I was only teaching 1.5 classes. Today, I am teaching 7 and I have quickly accepted to not do everything perfectly. This has been a life saver and a huge contributing factor in my happiness meter.
In addition to that advice, my principal also encouraged me to go out and do things in town. So I decided to join a curling team (which I look forward to every week despite the impending bruises). I’ve also been going out to karaoke nights (though I haven’t yet worked up the courage to sing solo – but group songs and drinks do a world of good), and quite recently my curling team and I have started a weekly board games night. All this has made an arduous first year much more tolerable. It’s quite amazing what a good laugh with friends can do to relieve you of any memory of a bad day or any stress.
And now I am just giddy with the thought of returning home for a much needed two weeks of rest and recuperation amongst family and food.
Merry Christmas! Here’s to your own work life balance!