When COVID-19 hit, I spent a lot of time with my students keeping tabs on the latest news and reviewing hand-washing procedures.
Then, we were told to stay home, and my focus shifted to spending time with my family and keeping busy.
I work as an Adult ESL and LINC teacher, and soon enough, I was asked to teach online.
Getting students online, training them on how to use new technology, Zoom meetings, and emails became overwhelming. Certainly, all this involved more stress than I would have experienced teaching in the classroom.
I was spending a lot of time working on my computer and losing sight of my other priorities—like taking care of myself and my family.
There were times that I felt like nothing existed outside of staying home and online teaching.
I decided I needed to refocus. The first step was to count my blessings. I still had a job. No one in my family, including me, was sick. I had a roof over my head and food in the fridge.
The next step was to strike a better work-life balance.
So, I made sure to keep my work hours similar to what they were before the pandemic hit and isolation orders were put in place. I had to separate work time and me time.
This meant treating the weekends as time for myself. I tried not to answer any emails or set up student expectations that classroom time can bleed into the weekend. Plus, I figured that they also wanted time to themselves.
I kept a record of what I did on a calendar, which made me feel like I accomplished something. I also made sure to pace myself and spread tasks and learning throughout the week.
Working at home can get all consuming, I made sure to get as much done as possible and forgive myself if I didn’t get it all done in one day.
I didn’t wear my pyjamas, but I did wear more casual clothes.
Moreover, I embraced the freedom that working from home allowed.
This meant taking tea and snack breaks, eating leftovers for lunch while watching a show I liked or funny videos on YouTube. If I needed to clear my head, I’d walk my dogs or meditate.
Then, when work was finished for the day, I was already home – no commute time. I had time to take a walk, run an errand, or even go to a drive-through to pick up a coffee and cake-pop.
On the weekends, I’d spend time with my family or take my dogs to the park. There are lots of other things to do, like cleaning, cooking, crafts, watching interesting videos, listening to music or a YouTube podcast, or even taking a nap.
It was like two different worlds. Once I shifted my focus and routine, I found balance and felt less stressed out. Since striking this better balance, I’ve continued this type of routine.
I know that all things pass, and hope that the COVID-19 epidemic will soon be over.
What are you doing to strike a work-life balance? Any suggestions for your fellow teachers?