As a teacher mom, it can feel impossible to balance work, home and family responsibilities. You’re always exhausted and there never seems to be enough time in the day. But it is possible to create balance in your life! Today, I’m sharing 10 proven ways to help manage your time and make life easier so you can have energy for your own home and family after the school day ends.
Why Juggling Teaching and Motherhood Doesn’t Work
Trying to juggle teaching and motherhood is a recipe for disaster.
Both jobs are so demanding, it’s like trying to be the CEO of two major corporations at the same time.
No wonder why so many teachers are experiencing burnout and leaving the profession.
Due to remote learning and staff shortages stress levels are at an all-time high in education, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.
Giving 110% of your time, energy, and passion to your classroom and your family all day long isn’t sustainable.
On top of that, many of us feel guilty when we are torn between the needs of our students and our own kids and for wanting to spend quality time with our families.
This is especially true in a modern classroom where teachers are expected to be
- interior decorators
- trauma experts
- event planners
- parents and so much more….
Not to mention that after work you come home to:
- bills to pay
- meals to cook
- and your own family members who deserve your time and attention
While finding a job outside the classroom may be the right choice for some, there are so many of us who truly love teaching. We’ve invested years of our life into education, training, and love working with children.
If you’ve been feeling like you’ve hit rock bottom and something needs to change, then you’re in the right place.
I know exactly how you feel because I am a teacher-mom too!
Along with running a first grade classroom, I am also raising two children, running two businesses, and continuing my education.
One comment I frequently hear is, “I don’t know how you do it all!” and my response is always the same: “I don’t”.
A few years ago I worked myself to the point of burnout and I knew something had to change.
I sat down for a few hours and made a master list of all the daily weekly and monthly tasks I was responsible for. This process proved that between school, home and family, I had taken on too much.
After spending a bit of time researching, and years implementing the strategies in my own life, I began sharing these tips with other moms who were feeling overwhelmed with work and motherhood.
I believe these strategies are essential for mothers who are also teachers because your classroom is quite literally like running a second household.
If you’ve been feeling like you can’t balance it all and would love to find some relief, keep reading!
The following are ten practical ways to balance work, home, and family as a teacher-mom:
How to Balance Teaching and Motherhood
1. Determine Your Priorities
The first step in creating balance is to determine your priorities. It’s time to sit down and clearly define what is most important to you.
While teaching and mothering have many important tasks, every responsibility is not and cannot be equally important.
Clarifying your priorities at home and in the classroom will help you to be more efficient and intentional with your time.
As a mom and teacher, there are always a million things you can do, but many of them are things we don’t actually have to do.
When you become more aware of what your priorities are it makes it easier to focus your time and energy on what truly matters.
- You can have perfectly decorated bulletin boards for each season, but you don’t have to.
- You can spend time mindlessly scrolling through social media on your phone, but you don’t have to.
- You can stop and chat with every co-worker you see on your way to the copy room, but you don’t have to.
This allows you to be a better manager of your time and helps you to determine which tasks you need to complete and which you can delegate, delay or delete from your to-do list.
Action Step: Sit down and make a bulleted list of your top priorities. Use this as a guideline to create your own “Must Do” and “May Do” lists for your home and classroom.
2. Set Up Systems
My first year as a teacher I spent a lot of evenings and weekends in my classroom. I was using this time to set up repeatable systems so my classroom could run smoothly and free up my time and energy in the future.
Setting up systems in your classroom (and at home) is essential if you are looking to create a work-life balance as a teacher.
– Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it.
– Meal plan and grocery shop accordingly.
– Establish morning routines for your children and yourself.
In the Classroom
– Have a designated place for materials that are always used (pens, pencils, scissors, glue sticks etc.)
-Set up a filing system to easily access curriculum and materials.
– Create routines that allow students to be as independent as possible.
When you have repeatable systems in place, it becomes much easier for everything to run smoothly without added stress.
While systems do take time to initially set up, this is time well spent because it will save you major time and energy in the long run.
Action Step: Analyze your weekly tasks at home and at school and see if there are any areas you can simplify by systemizing.
3. Establish Weekly Routines
In addition to setting up systems, it’s also important to establish weekly routines. This will help you with time management so you can be more productive and efficient during the school week.
Routines are predictable and provide structure, which we all know are essential for kids and adults.
Once established, they will allow you to run your household and classroom on auto-pilot with minimal effort and maximum results.
– Have a set day for laundry and stick to it.
– Grocery shop on the same day every week.
– Schedule family time like a weekly family movie night.
In the Classroom
-Make copies or assemble materials on specific days.
-Create an end-of-day checklist that you run through before you leave, so you know everything is ready for the next day.
– Teach your students routines for all activities during the day from turning in work to sharpening a pencil.
Having weekly routines in both your home and classroom will help to ensure that everything runs smoothly without added stress.
The consistency of a routine provides a sense of calm and order which will have a huge impact on your mental health and happiness.
Action Step: Use predictable weekly routines to create structure and streamline tasks.
4. Declutter Your Home (and Your Classroom)
Clutter is a major cause of stress and it can be difficult to feel a sense of balance when you’re home is cluttered and messy.
The same goes for your classroom, if it’s filled with materials and papers that aren’t organized it can be overwhelming and cause you to feel stressed.
Clutter makes everything more stressful from getting dressed in the morning and picking up your child’s toys, to finding the assignments you need to grade and return to students.
When you declutter your home (and classroom), you create more space both physically and mentally. This allows you to breathe easier and feel less overwhelmed.
Teaching is such a stressful occupation and the last thing you need is to come home to a messy house. You deserve a clutter-free home that is a relaxing and calming space for you and your family at the end of a long day.
When you simplify your home you will feel more organized and in control, which is essential for anyone looking to create a work-life balance.
Action Step: Grab a copy of the Quick Declutter Checklist.
5. Meal Plan
Meal planning and prepping is another way to create balance in your life as a teacher mom.
At the end of a long day, the last thing you want to do is try to decide what to make for dinner.
Creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list will take the guesswork out of what’s for dinner and make mealtime much easier.
Not only is meal planning a sanity saver, but it can also be cost-effective. When you plan meals ahead of time, you’re less likely to order in or dine out, which can get expensive quickly.
In our home, I focus on not only planning, but also prepping meals ahead of time. I often use Sunday evenings to prep a weeks worth of lunches for myself and at least one weeknight dinner. Having dinner planned for an entire week is a huge relief and removes a nightly burden that I used to dread.
Action Step: Make a weekly meal plan and corresponding grocery list.
6. Make the Most of Your Weekends
For teachers, weekends are as precious as gold.
This is free time for you to relax recharge and bond with your family.
(Notice I didn’t say that weekends are for working in your classroom or on lesson plans.)
While you may be so exhausted at the end of the school week, that you just want to lay in bed all weekend, that is neither productive or helpful.
Instead, use your weekends for a few of those routines I mentioned above and enter into the week ahead with all the loose ends tied up at home.
When you utilize your weekends effectively, it frees up your evenings so that you can have more time for yourself and your family during the week.
Action Step: Grab The Weekend Reset to learn my secret for creating balance as a mom and teacher.
7. Streamline Your Laundry Routine
With all that you have on your plate, it’s easy to allow piles of laundry to take over your home.
Not only is laundry a never-ending task, but it can also be very time-consuming when you don’t have systems and routines in place.
Streamlining your laundry routine can help to ease the burden and make this dreaded chore less of a hassle.
I am absolutely here to tell you that if you are doing your entire family’s laundry you’re doing it wrong. Laundry is a chore that every family member should be responsible for doing on their own, or at least helping with (unless you have an infant).
Otherwise, there are a ton of tips and tricks that you can use (and teach) to make getting the laundry done and put away as easy as possible.
Action Step: Use code: WELCOME to get $10 off From Dryer to Done
8. Delegate Household Responsibilities
Speaking of getting your family to help with the laundry, one of the best ways to balance work and home life is to delegate household responsibilities.
This includes everything from cleaning the house, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, feeding the dog, etc.
When everyone pitches in and takes ownership of a few household chores, it makes life much easier for everyone and helps to create a happy home.
And don’t forget the importance of assigning age-appropriate chores and tasks to your kids. This will help them feel more independent and responsible while teaching them important life skills.
While it may be easy to “just do it yourself”, that doesn’t help you or your kids in the long run. Instead, make a conscious effort to include and expect your family members to be a part of running your family home.
Action Step: Set up a family meeting to discuss chores and delegate other household tasks.
9. Establish Boundaries
While this tip is at the bottom of the list, this needs to be priority number one for anyone currently working in the field of education.
We are currently being asked to do way more than any human is possible of and take on jobs that we aren’t paid for.
While I believe it’s important to offer support when you can, there absolutely must be limits.
Even if you like to help, when you cross the line of what’s healthy and reasonable, it can have a negative impact on your work, home, and family life.
Having clear boundaries when it comes to your job will allow you to be empowered when you need to say no to something that impacts your health and happiness.
Here are some examples of how teachers can establish work/life boundaries:
– Only respond to emails and texts from parents during work hours, or until a certain time each day.
-Don’t take any grading home at the end of the day.
– Choose one day per week to go in early or stay late if you need to. Otherwise leave at the same time every day.
Once you have boundaries in place, it’s important to stick to them. This can be hard, but it’s worth it in the long run.
Action Step: Evaluate your current work situation and identify areas where you could use better boundaries.
10. Have Realistic Expectations
The truth is, it’s impossible to be everything to everyone all of the time. And that’s OK.
Teachers are notorious perfectionists and we often have a hard time accepting this fact.
Life as a teacher, mom, wife, and friend, is full of demands, requests, and opportunities and it’s important for you to choose how to prioritize and act on those in a manner that protects your mental health and happiness.
But think about it: You don’t expect your students to do more than they can handle, so why do you put that pressure on yourself?
But, by setting realistic expectations and freeing yourself from the pressure to “do it all”, you’ll be able to balance work and home life much more easily.
Action Step: Begin to notice when you’re reaching your limit and practice saying no to activities and tasks that drain your energy.
How to Balance Being a Teacher and Mom
Balancing work, home and family life can be a difficult job, but it’s not impossible.
Remember, any working mom needs to take care of themselves first and foremost so that you can be your best for your family and your students.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’re constantly juggling more balls than you can handle, it’s time to stop and make some changes.
When it comes to balance as a mom and teacher, there isn’t one right answer for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you, but I am confident that the tips listed above include something for everyone.
The key is to find what works best for you and your family and to be willing to make changes as needed.
While it may initial be a challenge to make these changes, in the long run this will help you to be a better teacher and mom.