Stop the glorification of "BUSY"
In light of the fact that this week is Spring Break in Ontario (my Canadian friends like to hassle for me for this one, since in Canada, we typically call it "March Break"), I thought it would be as good of time as any to tackle my thoughts surrounding work-life balance and taking time for yourself.
It seems in our current world, there is a lot of mixed messaging about these topics. On one hand, you have people talking about the importance of self care, mental health and balance, and on the other, you have people advocating the importance of always giving your best, "rise and grind", "sleep when you're dead", "if you love your job, it's not work" and so on, so forth.
Sometimes, it feels like a tug of war, being pulled in both directions.
We live in a society that is more connected than ever. And with that, comes so many advantages. But it is also makes it a lot more difficult to take a step back, unplug, detach, and relax. There's an expectation that because we can be connected, that we are always connected. This puts a lot of pressure on people to be always "on" and always available, which can be emotionally and physically draining.
Being "busy" is worn like a badge of honour; if you have no time for yourself, it's because you're such an all-star at whatever it is you are doing. Only got 4 hours of sleep? Awesome! You're pursuing your passion and hard work works. Burning the candle at both ends is a new status symbol in some circles. The more you do, with the less time off, and the more you show for it, the more respected you are.
Furthermore, the idea that if you need a break from work, you're clearly doing something wrong because "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life". I disagree completely. I AM doing what I LOVE. Teaching is my second greatest passion (after being a Mom). I live and breathe it. I think about it almost constantly. I sometimes even dream about it. I go out for dinner with friends who are teachers and we talk about it - new books, new lessons, great ideas, bad days, fun activities, PD opportunities. There's no time off from it. I love my kids and I worry about them. I do work during my evenings and days off, including weekends, holidays and summer. And that can be exhausting. It can be draining to have something consume you so entirely. If I was describing a relationship, instead of a job, it would be called "unhealthy", for sure. So, why then, do we view jobs/careers differently?
"Good people are like candles; they burn themselves up to give light to others".
I struggle with work-life balance because I know how important my job is. I know that every single school day, the lives of other people's children are entrusted to me; to teach them, to care about them, to look out for them, to support them. That is a lot of responsibility. And because of that, I often find myself spending every spare second of the day trying to do things for them. It is important to be the best we can be. But it is also important to take care of ourselves.
If we push ourselves to the point of burnout, we will have nothing left to give and at that point, doesn't everyone suffer?
It is important to take a step back every once and a while... to take some time for ourselves to be refreshed and recharged. That is when we do our best work. When we are at our best.
"You can be a good person, a giving person, with a kind heart and still say no".
So this break, I will take some time for both my family and for me. I am even contemplating a FULL day tech free!!! (GASP!) Will I still be thinking about my kids (students) constantly? Of course. I always do. Will I still be doing prep and marking? Obviously. But I won't let myself get stressed out and feel guilty when I take some down for me also.
You can't do a good job, if your job is all you do.
Great post Megan! What you are saying resonates with me. Depending on who you surround yourself with, you could get caught up in a competitive experience with respect to the whole notion of "busy". You seem like you have a good grasp on your priorities and for me, that is the bottom line.
3/12/2017 04:29:57 pm
A very timely post! As I mentioned on Twitter, I have a terrible sense of balance. I have developed ridiculous sleep habits (like you, my mind is often on my students...am I doing enough? What can I do differently? etc etc.) I'm certain I spend more of my waking hours thinking about work than I do about my own passions and perhaps my family.
3/13/2017 07:23:51 am
Meg! So so so true. Setting boundaries on my time and being able to learn to say no and take care of myself have been huge focusses for me in the last few years. The absurdity of our cultural glorification of "business" really became apparent to me when I was in the North, where people emphasizing living by "being" rather than "doing". I kind of realized that my need to be busy all of the time comes from a place of fear of not being enough as I am.
3/19/2017 07:53:43 pm
Yes!! Yes!! Balance is key!! I just got back from Cuba tonight and here I am, at 10:45 tonight, trying to get caught up. Dismal wifi in Varadero meant a week with no internet!! Sunday-Sunday, y'all!!! I actually didn't miss it after day 1. I got to hang with my hubby and kids 24-7, for real. I can't remember when we last had that kind of time together and these little ones get so big, so fast. Balance is something I frequently struggle with. Training for a half-ironman is a new piece of the puzzle this year too. Where do 10-15 hours of training fit? What about my marking? What about finding that new novel, that new trick, that new hook for the students? I think we have to remember something you've mentioned before, Megan....teaching success comes from quality relationships with students, not the number of "cool assignments" or comments we wrote on their work. We give quality, legitimate feedback when we can....and we care. They know that because we take the time to show them that, the caring, the listening, the commitment, the keeping-it-real. If we do that, we are giving them 100% and that's what they're owed. I try to believe this when I get to that swamped-when-am-I-going-to-get-this-back-to-them stage. We are people, parents, athletes, musicians, artists, spouses. Those relationships and most definitely, the relationship with ourselves as a person with needs, are important too. We gotta spread the love to ourselves too. Saying no is a big part of that, in my opinion. Here's to saying no more often and yes to good relationships. You are terrific, Megan, and all of you!
Leave a Reply.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!