On one hand, this is the million-dollar question. Anybody working in the teaching profession knows that, regardless of how many blogs you read stuffed full of good and well-meaning advice about the issue, actually getting the work-life balance right as a teacher is much easier said than done. It’s the elusive holy grail for teachers. Is it a utopia that can just never quite be reached?
Well, possibly. But, despite the fact that all teachers (from the NQT to the headteacher) continue to scream about the same problem – there just isn’t enough time in the day/week/year to do the job they need/want to do – you cannot simply shrug your shoulders and resignedly accept that things can’t get better, or that this is just the way things are.
Teaching is probably never going to enable you to have a perfect work-life balance. Let’s face facts here. Having said that, any employee in any line of work deserves some balance. Life should not be all about work.
And, as a teacher, returning to work after maternity leave can make it feel like a healthy work-life balance is even more unrealistic and unattainable than ever before.
This is why it’s vital that you think cleverly about to make sure you create the conditions that will allow you to achieve the best possible work-life balance you can.
Devise a plan and a routine that works for you
The specifics and finer details of your plan and routine post-maternity leave will vary considerably depending on your personal circumstances. For example, your childcare arrangements, travel commitments, responsibilities of your role, whether you are returning full-time and part-time, and fitting everything in around the needs of family and friends, will all help shape the nature of your plans.
The key thing is that you do have a plan! Carefully consider the best way to do things efficiently and time-effectively. Try to establish routines that everybody involved can stick to.
Work smarter, not harder
The ‘work smarter, not harder’ mantra has become something of a cliché in teaching circles. Everybody knows they should be doing it, but as with work-life balance, it always seems much harder than it looks!
The fact is that there is a limit to how much work any human being can do, before it become counter-productive. And, returning from maternity leave, you just have to accept that things are different now. You simply won’t be able to do all the school work you used to before. You’ve got other priorities now and your hands, literally, are very much full of something else!
So, it’s all the more important to really unpick how you make your working time more efficient and effective. Again, this is where the importance of routine comes into its own again.
Teachings are always rushed off their feet. None more so, than a teacher with a baby at home, so you need to get some semblance of organisation into your life. Having a set routine to tackle particular work tasks (and sticking to it) will help you feel more organised throughout the working week – and give you the much needed encouragement and boost of seeing at least some things getting ticked off your ‘to do list’ each week.
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