Last term was a real struggle for me. I was going at a hundred mile an hour, teaching part time (hats off to any parents who work full time by the way – I don’t know how you do it) and dealing with the behaviour issues of some of my students (and all the admin that comes with this), trying to keep on top of marking and planning the best I could while I was in school, before rushing to collect my toddler from nursery by half 4. I thought that working part-time would mean that I wouldn’t have to give up part of my weekend for work, but I’ve still had to do work on Sundays. As well as this I was trying to keep the house spotless (completely unrealistic expectation to have when you share a house with a toddler), keep on top of the washing and the cooking, prepare for Christmas; be a good mum, a good wife, a good friend, and a good daughter. Then my book was published back in November, so I was busy marketing this on my social media pages. These should have been my happiest and proudest moments, but instead I felt overwhelmed and I was riddled with anxiety. Imposter syndrome kicked in and I was constantly worrying what people thought. Instead of celebrating my successes I was beating myself up over the tiniest of things and berating myself for my shortcomings. I was working so hard, trying to keep all the plates spinning, but taking no time for myself to relax. It’s not surprising that one day a couple of weeks before Christmas everything finally crumbled and the plates all fell. Clearly something had to give and I needed to start being a little kinder to myself.
I’m always telling my friends and colleagues that you can’t pour from an empty cup; to look after themselves, yet I haven’t been affording myself the same courtesy. I am always the last thing on my list. My priorities are all wrong, so it’s time to start practising what I preach. I am by no means a wellbeing expert, but these are just a few things I currently do or am planning on doing to help me feel better.
I’ve never particularly enjoyed exercising. I’ve always found it quite difficult, so I tend to give up before I’ve had chance to see any improvements. Last year I finally found something I enjoy - pilates. I’ve only been going once a week for a few months, but I have become so much stronger doing it and it really helps me to relax. Other than this I haven’t really been doing much exercise at all, unless you can count chasing your little boy around soft play or traipsing around Peppa Pig World. One of my new year’s resolutions is to exercise more, not because I want to lose weight or get toned, but because I want to feel better. I’ve decided to take part in #redJanuary to raise some money for Mind. I am going to exercise every day this month and as part of this I’ve started Couch to 5K. If I’m doing all this for charity, then I’ve got to stick with it. Hopefully if I focus on this, everything else will fall into place. If anyone would like to donate my JustGiving page is here.
I have trouble switching off before bed, so I need to spend less time watching Netflix (my husband and I have just binge-watched season 2 of 'You' in 3 days). Often when I’m watching TV, I’ll be playing on my phone as well, so I’m not even focused on whatever’s on. I’ve downloaded the Headspace meditation app (educators can get a free subscription which is brilliant!) and I’d like to start listening to this again before bed. There are also some great podcasts. So far I’ve been enjoying Fearne Cotton’s The Happy Place and Off Menu with James Acaster and Ed Gamble. I’m halfway through reading The Unmumsy Mum Diary and I’ve got a couple of Matt Haig’s books to read next.
MANAGING THE WORKLOAD
I think I need to work smarter, not harder. I’m going to plan exactly what I’m going to do in my PPA time, and just do it - try to avoid chitchat. Prioritise - eat the frog.
We’ve also managed to change our son’s hours at nursery so that he can stay later on a Monday, which means I’ll have at least one day where I don’t have to rush off and can get some work done at school, and hopefully bring less home with me.
What are your top wellbeing tips?