I had my second baby about seven months ago; we still have a pretty dicey relationship with sleep. When I’ve had a few rough nights in a row, I REALLY STRUGGLE to stay motivated and take care of myself.
Do you struggle with motivation when you have to do ALL.THE.THINGS? Read on to find out some tips for motivation and self-care for teachers.
All the jobs
Teaching (like parenting) is one of those jobs that can deplete you bit by bit, without you even noticing.
Your body is tired from being on your feet all day. Your brain is burnt out from being one step ahead all day. And your self-control is zapped trying not to be a cranky, shouty troll all day.
Then when you’re all done, you have to go home and do MORE. Exhausting.
Who has the motivation or energy to be a teacher, a mum, a friend, a partner, a meal planner, a grocery shopper, a cleaner, a cook, a launderer, a book reader, an event planner, a personal assistant, and an exerciser on three hours of broken sleep three nights in a row?
Top motivation tip for tired teachers: self-care
Self-care is my biggest tip for keeping motivation. It counter-intuitive, but take a break. Engage in self-care.
Take it easy. Put a frozen pizza on for dinner. Skip the park play date. Forgo the errand to Kmart. Play a video in class. Order groceries online. Go to bed early.
All of the jobs will still be there tomorrow.
When motivation is lacking, spend a few days practicing self-care. Have a hot bath or watch Netflix. (Anyone else see Working Moms? Or The Letdown? Hands up!).
Self care and your body
If you have physical (but not mental) energy, do some free yoga videos or other exercise videos. I LOVE Fitness Blender and do them in the hopes that the endorphins will stop me being a cranky, shouty troll to my toddler. See the previous pic for a refresher.
I have learned that for me, movement increases motivation. Or, if I am so tired my bones feel heavy, I read or listen to a meditation track and rest.
My third motivation and self-care tip for tired teachers is to keep perspective. All the baby and parenting blogs say it, this too shall pass.
But from experience with my first baby, I now know it to be true. And I try to remember that these sleepless nights won’t be forever. Things will get easier.
I will have days soon when my body will be my own (and not the dominion of tiny tyrants). I will be able to get into a semi-predictable routine.
And I know I will miss the quiet baby snuggles in the night because my wriggling toddler can’t.sit.still. . . Unless she’s strapped into a car seat (and even that is hit and miss).
And when I do these things (and string together a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row), motivation trickles back.
Sometimes I just need a reminder to slow down and carve out some time for self-care so I have the motivation to keep all of the balls in the air.
Exhausted and still in the classroom?
Now, I have to say I am lucky. Where I teach, mums can take maternity leave and extended unpaid leave to raise their babies.
I know this isn’t the case elsewhere, and I can’t even imagine having to go back to work six, eight, or twelve weeks after having a baby.
So, for you superhero mama-teachers, what can you do to keep.on.going?
- Watch a movie in class, don’t feel guilty. There are plenty of educational videos suited to whatever content you have to cover. See links below for blog posts to point you in the right direction. CrashCourse, Khan Academy, and CollegeInfoGeek all have great videos on content-specific topics and general academic skills.
- Outsource anything you can afford. Get a meal delivery service, hire a cleaner, pay for your child to attend a creche a few hours a week so you can get stuff done. Get on TPT and pay for resources that will save you time (see here for my store).
- Share the load. Communicate with your partner about what they can do. Can they do school drop off or pick up, make lunches, take the kids for a few hours on a Saturday so you can catch up on work?
- If you have sick leave saved up, use it strategically. Use it to mark work and keep ahead of planning, grading, and reporting.
- If you have a mountain of marking and are struggling to finish it, do yourself a deal. For every five papers you mark, you can have a treat (read a chapter of your book, listen to your favourite song, watch a short YouTube video, eat a square of chocolate, whatever works for you).
- Watch videos by Jordan Page at FunCheaporFree – this woman is a productivity powerhouse. She has a zillion kids and runs and ultra-successful business. But her productivity and motivation tips are easy and real-life doable.
- Talk to someone if you are feeling overwhelmed. Venting can help, so can having an outside observer help you make a plan to tackle the hard things.
Remember that all people feel tired, drained, and empty sometimes. Use one, or two, or five of these tips to help build your motivation and self-care.
Further reading for motivation and self-care tips for teachers:
‘Physical self care for teachers‘ by Learn, Grow, Blossom
‘Self care for teachers‘ by Caffeinated J