Self-Care and a Sweet Giveaway!

I apologize for being MIA here lately.  Adjusting to my new school has been stressful to say the least.  We are expected to do so much with so little that at times I wonder if it’ll ever get better.  I found myself working non-stop, through dinners, through weekends, with no breaks whatsoever.  I’m sure that scenario is very familiar to many of you.  We care so much about what we do, it is actually a deeply ingrained part of who we are.  I think that’s all fine and dandy until it actually starts to take over who we really are and turns us into someone we don’t like being.  Sadly, that has been the case for me this year.

In an effort to balance my life, I decided to start volunteering some of my time.  This would force me to get away from my duties as a teacher and help those outside of my classroom.  Selfishly, I also wanted to be reminded that my life is pretty good, even though it hadn’t felt that great since school began.  I chose a cause very near and dear to my heart, violence against women.  I had to go through an 80 hour volunteer program. The training took all my nights from 4-9 for 2 months, but somehow I made it through and I feel proud that I was able to “balance” it all, no matter how ugly it got at some points.  This experience really showed me that somehow, some way, the work all gets done, the papers all get graded, and the kids learn just as much (if not more!) as when I spend 100 hours a week prepping, planning, and copying.

Through my volunteer experience, I’ve learned a lot that surprisingly applies to my teacher life.  They stress that volunteers need to practice self-care above all else so that we avoid feelings of burnout, helplessness, resentfulness, etc.  As we were reading about all the signs of being “burnt out,” I was mentally checking off each one.  I was officially and truly burnt out as a teacher.  I wanted to give my all, every last drop of the 100% I had to give, but I just couldn’t.  I was becoming irritable (just ask my husband) and no fun to be around at home OR at school.  I had little patience for my students and their misbehavior and I had constant feelings of resentment towards my colleagues and my administration for all of the pressure they put on me.  It wasn’t pretty, folks!  I knew something had to change because I could not teach another year if it was going to continue on in this way.  I was sick of Googling “What do teachers who quit teaching do?” and my kids were sick of having a grumpy and tired teacher.

I wish I had a magic pill to make it all better.  If I said that overnight I miraculously found a new-found love of teaching, I would be lying. It’s hard. It’s a very tough job that most people THINK they can do well until they actually try it.  We are so much more than glorified babysitters.  We are caregivers, but we are also leaders. We are role models. We are confidants. We are motivators. We are the smile and kind message that some kids will never hear at home. The list goes on and on, but we cannot forget that we are people, too.  We need support and love just as much as our kiddos do. Just as we teach our students to love and take care of themselves, we must do the same.

For me, setting boundaries and sticking to them have made all the difference.  I’ve been leaving my work at work when I leave between 5 and 6 (still 2+ hours after contract time some days) and took my school email off of my phone.  Weekends are my time to spend however I’d like.  Saturday there is not one drop of school work allowed. (The hubby is so sweet to monitor this for me!) I still grade and do quick planning on Sunday nights. Someday I hope that will also change, but for right now, it’s a huge improvement!  I’ve been able to come home and be a wife and a friend and a volunteer and all the facets of myself that I’ve been burying under piles of schoolwork.  It’s not easy. There are days when there is so much grading to do, I cheat and grade while I’m watching TV, but I give myself permission to take a break and breathe.  I know that when I get to school in the morning all of those things will still be there, but so will I. And for a change, I will be refreshed and ready to take on my day with a smile, because I allowed myself to be human.  Miraculously, I am not any further behind in planning, grading, etc. than I was when I was working myself to death.  AND my students are happier because their teacher is happier.  What are some boundaries that you set for yourself?  How do you practice self-care?  Tell me in the comments below!

So, in the name of self-care, I am participating in a holiday giveaway!  The giveaway has taken a ton of time for my sister (you know her as Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs) to design and put together, so a big THANK YOU to her!  You can win my ‘Gearin’ Up for Graphs Pack‘ (great for grades 2-4) or a $5 credit to my store.  Some other great sellers are also offering store credits and you could win a $30 Starbucks gift card!  Show yourself a little self-love and enter now!

1. Classroom Compulsion – Featured Item or $5 TpT Store Credit
2. Created By Mr. Hughes – $5 TpT Store Credit
3. Ms. Fultz Corner – $5 TpT Store Credit
4. Flapjack Educational Resources – $5 TpT Store Credit

One thought on “Self-Care and a Sweet Giveaway!

  1. Hi Rebecca. I came across this site when I was browsing around for some interview tips and advice. Before I read your May 2014 interview post, I read your December 2014 self-care post, and I am so happy I did. I have never commented on a blog post but was so inspired by your words in this post that I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, even if they're not the typical cutesy successful teacher blog posts. Naturally, I typed out a long thoughtful comment only to lose it when I hit "publish". This is my second year teaching and I am in a new school, district, and grade level from what I was in last year. I have felt pretty much all of the things you talked about in this post – except for the googling what teachers do if they quit teaching 😉 I know that I am so young and that things WILL get better with time and experience, but it is also nice to know that even teachers who have been teaching for years can still experience these setbacks, as it is not a reflection of myself being a failure but just a reflection of our commitment and dedication to what we do. Learning about your struggles really opened my eyes to how badly I need to treat and respect myself better. My take-aways from this post: Volunteer more of my time to something else that I feel passionately about (maybe an animal shelter), and leave work at work after a designated end-time. I am THE last car in the parking lot night after night after night besides the janitors, and reading this helped me to realize that it needs to stop – I should not spend more time at school than I do at home.

    I won't ramble on, but I did want to let you know how much I took this post to heart and how much I appreciate you sharing it with the world wide web. Now off to read your interview post 🙂 Thank you for all that you do!

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