I can think of many times throughout my career as a teacher when I felt like I was drowning in my job and literally going crazy with the huge amount of time and energy (mentally and physically) I was pouring into classroom life.

Now don’t get me wrong – it’s wonderful to want to do things well and work hard, I am all for doing a job once and doing it well. But I look back now and wish I had then realised what I now understand about balance.

It took a burn out for me to realise what balance needed to look like in my life for my sanity – and my family’s. What would I say to my past- self, at those times when my to-do list to create the perfect classroom and lessons was longer than my arm, or when I was crossed leg on the living room floor cutting out laminated sheets at 1am, or the Saturday morning I sent my family to a birthday party without me because I had to ‘work’?

I would say this: Lady, it’s OK to eliminate fluff from your to-do list. ‘Fluff’ is a task that doesn’t directly impact the outcome or purpose of your role. It is OK to find a fun hobby that you are passionate about – it will provide mental relief from the intense pace of teaching.

Join a boot camp, start creating that thing you always wanted to make and share it with the world! And finally it is OK to say no. No, I’m not going to stay at work until 6pm. No, I choose not to work on the weekends. No, I will not miss any more precious family-time because of work.

Realising these things actually made me a better and happier mum, wife, friend and teacher – without a doubt the best version of myself!

Words // Vanessa Nansen



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