Thursday, 9 February 2017

The importance of self care


"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."

I saw this quote on Instagram earlier this week and it really resonated. After weeks of feeling run down and exhausted, interspersed with bouts of cold and flu-like symptoms, I finally admitted defeat.

Like so many jobs, but I think in teaching particularly, taking time off is difficult. It's not just a case of calling in sick and then having to deal with the increased workload on your return, it's setting appropriate cover - daily - that the students can do without your input. It's making sure you can still keep up with the scheme of work and are on track to meet assessment targets despite missing lessons. It's ensuring your pastoral sessions are appropriately covered so students are supported. It's falling behind on your marking and planning time. It's missing Parent's Evenings; a crucial but lost opportunity to discuss performance and concerns with both parents and students alike.

So returning to work inevitably means not only responding to the ton of emails you've accumulated, but also trying to understand what work has actually been completed in your absence, ensuring all students are up to date and the content has been understood, re-arranging slots to speak with parents, chasing up students who have missed lessons or assessment... Oh, and then collecting in yet more marking to be added to your ever-increasing stack, re-planning lessons to account for catch up time and then you might be able to get back to the everyday treadmill that is teaching.

Sorry, that escalated quickly.

But right now, that's my reality.

Having visited the doctor this week (who initially thought I had malaria...) and being told I need to take some time off to kick this virus to the curb, I am being a good patient and resting at home.

It's funny how it takes someone with authority (i.e. a medical professional) signing you off for you to accept it's OK to pause. 

But I digress - going back to that quote. It rings true on so many levels; I can't be my best me (sorry, ugh...) if I am exhausted, depleted and drained. Not only am I doing those around me a disservice but I'm not doing myself any favours.

What is life if you are reaching every weekend exhausted, all for a pay cheque? Life is too short to run yourself ragged at work to the extent you can't enjoy down time.

So for now I'm trying to take my own advice and have taken some time out, accepting I'm not superhuman and need to take better care of myself.

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7 comments

  1. Totally agree with this post. Sometimes catching up on your workload, household jobs or even life admin can be struggle and whilst the quick fix route seems easier to take, truly feeling on top of everything needs to start from you. But, life isn't A&E, we're always in rush yet we're too busy to slow down and take care of ourselves. Hope you're feeling better soon x

    Ruth // www.ruth-writes.co.uk

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  2. Hope you feel better soon, that sounds rotten. Self care is so important but I definitely need to get better at it!

    Maria xxx

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  3. A slightly random comment but I was wondering how you go about having a blog that is obviously very popular and managing what your students at school can see? I am interested in starting a blog, partly as a way to have a focus away from school, but as a teacher I worry it would be pretty embarrassing if the students were to discover it!

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    1. Wellll... I just cross my fingers and hope for the best! So far (six years) so good, but yeh I think it would be a little awkward if they found it! What age group do you teach?

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    2. I teach secondary with half of my classes being sixth form, so all very into social media etc! I guess I could keep it fairly anonymous to begin with and see where it goes...!
      It's been great reading your blog as another teacher... Particularly the six months travelling!

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