"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.