There are a number of ways to create a teacher work-life balance. As busy teachers, we know our workday doesn’t end just because the final dismissal bell rings! In fact, we usually have a ton of work to bring home with us. Add to that the regular household duties like cooking, cleaning, shopping, caring for children, etc. and that’s just a recipe for becoming overwhelmed. Here, I’ve decided to put together some of my best tips to help you save yourself some valuable time and gain back precious family time!
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With the advent of online grocery shopping options, you no longer have to spend hours every week bouncing from grocery store to grocery store. For that matter, you don’t even have to leave your home!
Need Out of the House:
If you don’t mind leaving your home to pick up your groceries, Walmart Grocery is an online ordering option where you can place your order online, pay, and then pick up your groceries at a designated spot in the parking lot. What could be easier, you ask? Living rural might make this option a little less appealing. Working as a teacher all day and then trying to think about driving into town for groceries becomes a little overwhelming. After being out of the house all day and then making the time to run out for groceries (or take-out) is hard. It’s one of the first things automate or create a routine for so you can find teacher work-life balance.
Groceries on Your Doorstep:
How about not having to leave your house at all? Amazon Pantry is a new option for Prime members that allows you to place an order for groceries and other household items in regular package sizes (i.e. you don’t have to buy in bulk; you can buy one box of something) and have them delivered straight to your front door! Whether you work at school or work from home, this one is amazing! There is nothing better than having all your groceries delivered right to your front door!
No matter what time of year it is, you probably have someone for whom you can buy a gift. Balancing work, school, and family means keeping track of the whole family’s social calendar as well. I don’t know about you, but being able to remember to buy a gift for one of the kids to attend a party always seems to put me in a bind. Birthdays, anniversaries, and the holidays seem to always creep around the corner!
To make gift-buying easier, create Wish Lists for yourself on Amazon. You can make your Wish Lists public or private and can cater them to specific individuals. For instance, you might make one titled “Kids – Birthdays” or just “Birthday Ideas”.
Word to the wise: make lists that you don’t want your own children or spouse to see private. When they get older and start using your same account, Christmas secrets turn into a nightmare!!
You can install the Amazon Assistant to compare prices and drop items into your Wish Lists from any webpage you’re on! This means when you’re browsing Target’s toy selection and find something you’re looking for, the Assistant will automatically pop up a comparison toolbar at the top of the screen to show you various prices to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Like what you see? Drop it into one of your Amazon Wish Lists!
These days, you don’t have to sacrifice quality food for time and labor. With companies like Plan to Eat available, you can find recipes from all over (hello, Pinterest!) and import them into a section that saves all the recipes information and directions. From there, use Plan to Eat to move the recipes you have saved (by drag and drop) into your online planner.
You can plan all meals or just dinners for the week or month (or longer). The platform then creates a grocery list for you that you can section out into pantry items and main items. Super teacher trick: order any items from the pantry list and grocery list you can from Amazon Pantry. Grocery shopping and meal planning at the click of a button. Now that is a great way to find your teacher work-life balance.
Save time by paying your bills just once a month! Usually, when you are working as a teacher, you get paid once a month. Save your bills until payday, and then sit down and pay them all at once. You don’t need to run around looking for a stamp or the checkbook multiple times during the month. Even more important, if you have a budget and a list of bills to pay all at once, you won’t wake up in a panic, wondering if you made the house payment for the month. Living on a teacher’s salary is stressful enough without the added hassle of bills plaguing you.
If you know a bill is going to stay at a consistent amount (ie. your car payment is always for the same amount) you can have it auto-drafted. Just make sure you have it drafted a day or two AFTER payday to ensure the funds are there even if a weekend or holiday falls near the due date.
Make it Work for You
With bill due dates all over the month, you may need to call a few bill companies and make arrangements to get the dates you’d prefer, but it’ll be so worth it. You’ll know your bills are taken care of and won’t have to deal with it multiple times a month. If you can’t get a bill date changed to suit your budget, pay it when you sit down monthly, it doesn’t hurt to pay in advance, or if it’s withdrawn later in the month, just annotate it for the correct date in your register.
It may take a few months for you to find a pattern and groove to your bill paying, but once you know it will be a set time each month and how long you need to get through it, the rest of the month will be free for other things. Like falling on the couch and snuggling with your kids after a long day at school.
It’s the strangest phenomenon: everyone’s gone to work/school all day long, yet the house still manages to get untidy somehow. Until the magic fairies pay you a visit in your home, consider implementing a speed-cleaning program like FlyLady.net. This is probably my second most favorite work-life balance tip for teachers. Using FlyLady’s principles, you’ll only clean for 15 minutes at a time and then stop. Or, you can clean certain “zones” of your house at a time before cleaning the rest of the house (also broken up into zones). There’s even an app to keep you on your toes through your phone!
Teaching the kids to clean up “hot spots” with a timer is amazing. I started implementing this with my two when they were under the age of 5. Just saying “it’s time for a flash clean” and pulling out a cheap timer would have them zooming around the house cleaning like mad!! Sometimes, I would cheat and add an extra minute or two on the timer to get them to clean a little more (or to let them get it all clean before the timer went off).
Bonus Tip for Teachers in the Classroom:
implement a flash clean routine with your students. Explain how it works, demonstrate which areas of the room you want to be cleaned up: things they are finished with, technology put away properly, etc. It’s amazing what a room full of children can accomplish in under 3 minutes!
Busy teachers need to learn routines on how to balance work and family. It takes a lot to keep your classrooms and your houses running smoothly. I’ve shared some of my favorite resources, but I’d love to know what some of your favorite resources are!