Teachers (and Mamas) – Here are Five Ways to Save Your Sanity

Teachers often feel completely drained by the end of the workday. As a special education teacher, that feeling can often come much earlier in the day.

5 Ways to Save Your Sanity: "You can't pour from an empty cup." You need to have some strategies at the ready to take care of yourself, so you can be your best for your students.

But once teachers reach that breaking point, you’re shorting yourself and your students.  I love the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” You’ve got to have some strategies ready to take care of yourself so that you can keep on trucking as a fantastic teacher.

When you’re in the trenches, you can’t just run out for a Frappuccino or manicure for a breather. Everyone has hard days, but you can’t phone it in when you work with kids. I would never accept my child’s surgeon or bus driver giving less than 100%. So why would anyone be okay with a teacher taking it easy for a day?

While we’re at it – this is also a mom-blog. You can’t mom your hardest when you’re running on empty. These tips can help you slow your roll too!

#1 – Treat Yo Self!

For some, this is easy and second nature. For me, I need a push (or shove) to take care of myself.

Start by making yourself a list of daily, intermittent, and special occasion self-care ideas. It’s not realistic to bake brownies every night in an effort to start over. But it’s a good idea to have some go-to options at the ready!

Ways I take care of myself throughout the week:

  • Long showers with my phone. It’s an iPhone 8 and waterproof, I like to stand with my back in the stream of water and scroll through Instagram and other mom blogs.
  • Sitting on the front porch and watching my girls play outside.
  • Take a power nap before picking my baby up from daycare.
  • Binge watching Netflix (Hulu, HBO, whatever).
  • Baking those brownies mentioned above.

Ways I take care of myself every once in a while:

  • Painting my nails, usually while my six-year-old paints every one of her nails a different color!
  • Organizing an area of the house that has been bugging me.
  • Plan a play date or get together with friends.
  • Eat out for dinner with the family.
  • Go the extra mile and schedule a babysitter so you can have a date night!

Then, once in a blue moon, I get my hair cut! For some, a haircut is no big deal. But I only get my hair cut every 2-3 years.

It’s a definite treat to get my hair washed by someone else, chat with another adult, and walk away knowing that my hair is going to help some sweet kids. Plus, I feel like a new person when I get my hair chopped!

Now make your list? What works for you?

Mom with fresh haircut

#2 – Connect With Your Family and Friends

In the evening, I have a limited time frame to make dinner, keep my girls from killing each other, get them ready for bed, and Netflix binge. The time goes by so fast, and it’s my bedtime before I know it.

The time on the weekends is just as precious. Between chores, church, and naptime, we have pretty limited free time. This means it’s so important to schedule time with your family!

With my daughters, it’s so important to me that we play together in the evening and get those snuggles in. I love reading chapter books with my six-year-old, and hearing my 17-month-old say “buh! buh! buh!” for us to read more books! I especially love getting in those special mama-daughter dates so my girls know just how important they are to me.

We try to see our closest family and friends every week, but it’s usually more like every other week. Plan your play dates, dinners, and community events and get them on your calendar! Then follow through, and don’t cancel unless you really can’t make it work!

When you can’t spend that time face-to-face, keep in touch via text and video chats! Social media is great for keeping up with everyone, but you’ve got to make sure they know you’re there. If social media is your primary method of checking in, then interact with their posts!

Even if it’s been awhile, go ahead and make the first move. Our lives are too busy and go by too fast to wait for someone else to call!

matching mom and daughter shopping

#3 – Enjoy Some Retail Therapy

Teachers definitely don’t have more disposable income than most, but you don’t have to be irresponsible to have a little fun. We have budgeted for some fun money, but just regular grocery shopping is just as fun.

My favorite retail therapy is running out for the essentials. Whether my daughters are with me, or I get to go shopping by myself, I just love walking up and down the aisles!

When I’ve had a really rough day, I like to roll out as soon as my husband has settled at home after work. He takes care of dinner and bedtime, and I enter the twilight zone of Target!

Now, when I’m nap-trapped under my baby or enjoying my lunch break at work, Amazon gives me that shopping outlet. It’s mostly just window shopping, but Amazon lets me get my shopping fix anytime!

I am completely fashion-challenged, but I still love shopping for casual and work clothes. My first stops for new clothes are usually Target and Old Navy, but I have recently discovered LuLaRoe! My aunt started me with a few pairs of leggings, but then I noticed more and more teachers with their collections too!

Stalking the videos and photo album drops from my amazing local consultant, Melissa’s Marvels, is a guilty pleasure of mine. Even when the clothes aren’t my size or style, I like checking out all of the fun prints they offer! My LuLaRoe actually makes me feel more like a grown-up because I’ve got a stash of pieces that mix and match really well!

babywearing mom at Target

#4 – Hit the Road

I love planning our vacations and weekend getaways. Even if it isn’t go-time, you can still research the attractions and daydream!

Teachers “have the summers and holidays off”, so take advantage of that! I know you’re working over those breaks, but allow yourself to truly take some time off!

Start by looking at your calendar for the year and plan ahead. Figure out your windows of opportunity for a day trip, weekend getaway, and full-blown vacation. Getting them on the calendar helps make sure that weeks, and months, and years don’t pass without a break.

We try to plan a combination of tried and true vacations and new adventures. We love to visit family in Michigan and Colorado for our far away trips. Visiting family – check! Familiar attractions – check! Exploring new ways to have fun – check!

Then we’ve got a bunch of local places that are a great way to spend the day. During the summer, my bestie and I bring our kids to the local amusement park every week.

When we needed a break from the kids, we left them with their dads and spent the night riding roller coasters by ourselves! It was so great to let loose and enjoy ourselves without worrying about what was going on at home or work!

As for new adventures, it’s exciting to find someplace different to go with friends! We have gone on weekend trips to Nebraska and Arkansas. But we’ve also hunted out new local playgrounds and kid-friendly attractions.

When a true getaway isn’t possible, head for the trails! Go for a long walk and enjoy nature for a bit. Check out your local parks and recreation department’s website, and go explore some trails and parks that you’ve never visited.

friends riding a roller coaster

#5 – Make Your Lunch Break Work For You

My contract specifies that teachers have a 25-minute “duty-free lunch”. It also states that I have an eight hour work day across 187 contract days.

However, we all know that teachers work in the evenings, across the weekends, and during the summer. So this “duty-free lunch”, by my own choice, is usually spent answering emails, creating materials for students, and preparing for my afternoon class.

When my day to day life in the classroom is rough, I have to make sure that my lunch is an actual break. To do this, I keep a few vices stashed and give myself permission to relax while I have lunch.

I try to keep some Dr. Pepper in my mini fridge (or change for the vending machine in my desk drawer). It’s a special education classroom, so I usually have a good stash of snacks and candy for student reinforcers. Those are purchased by me, so I have no shame digging into my stash of mini M&M’s.

Honestly, my favorite way to reset is to lay on my circle time carpet and zone out for 10-15 minutes. I close the blinds, turn off the fluorescent lights, and bring one of my Cozy Corner pillows to the carpet. Then I turn on my favorite Pandora radio station and either close my eyes or play mindlessly on my phone.

So go ahead and put your feet up, close your plan book, and allow yourself to enjoy that brief break! Hide some treats in your desk, let yourself play Candy Crush or update your status on Facebook, and schedule some fun activities for the weekend.

teacher with feet up on desk

How Do You Relax?

Come back to your kids refreshed and ready to give them your all. They deserve it, and so do you! I gave you my favorite ways to cast away my stressors. Now post in the comments how you let go of everything!

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