“Of all things love is the most potent” ~Dr. Maria Montessori
1) Take your work email off of your personal computer’s main mail browser and off of your personal cell phone. Force yourself to have to go into a web browser and open your work email that way, ideally when you’re actually at work. There is no self-love in being blasted with work emails in your off hours, on your weekends, and holidays. Teachers, you MUST give yourself clear boundaries between work, and living the life that work allows you to enjoy. That’s the whole reason for busting our bootys to get said paycheck: work-life balance. Joy, self-preservation, and the ability to relax/restore/renew ourselves when not at work. When you’re off the clock, automate your life so that you are in fact off the clock.
I can’t tell you what a tremendous amount of relief this small change brought me. Not all bosses or parents are good about keeping emails to a minimum. Some people only send actually important emails, and other people send emails for things that could have been jotted on a post-it note and stuck to your door, or quickly mentioned in passing. A boss with no order and no limits means they will interrupt you with any random un-prioritized thing, without limits… if you allow yourself to be accessed without limits, that is. The Montessori method deeply reveres order and limits. They apply to email too.
2) Make time to work out most days, even if all you do is set a timer for 5 minutes and move your body for 5 minutes. Even if all you do is lay on the ground and stretch for 5 minutes, or savassana for 5 minutes, no joke. My top resources for quick 5-minute workouts are Alexia Clark’s 5-minute workouts and any 4-minute tabata workout from youtube, for the days when I have no time and desperately want to push movement to the back burner. #TeamNoExcuses #TeamHealthy
3) Get teachers-only hand soap that smells hella good. This teacher hack sounds so dumb. And yes, it might be a financial luxury that some of us may not be able to afford to sustain all year round. But even one bottle of “better quality” soap per school year makes work a little more of a comforting, happy place to be. Even if just for the 20 second moments of lathering up.
I used to have a best friend growing up whose house always had “the good soap” my own family could never afford. It was always in their guest-accessible bathroom. Bath and Body Works soap that smelled amazing, with paper towels on a holder. Reserving “the good soap” and paper towel in the home bathroom for guests was a detail of care and luxury; and it was something I never forgot. You can implement the same feel-good, care-well hack at work by getting a bottle of quality hand soap reserved for only the teachers in your classroom (or school) to use.
I have implemented the “good soap hack” at many a past school to great success, by forcing “good soap” onto my co-workers as my Christmas and teacher appreciation group gifts. If no one else at work can appreciate it, I know I appreciate the 20 seconds of yummy-smelling luxury after I change a doodoo diaper, OK? And if I’m happier and more relaxed, everyone around me benefits.
P.S. Do NOT let your director or co-workers steal the good soap to use it on the kids; an do not let them try do away with the good soap because they can’t handle scented stuff. Which people will try, because trust me, they just will. Not everyone appreciates luxury. So if the good soap disappears, you might need to ask where it went, and tell whoever that it’s just for you and your classroom teaching staff. If “lavender” scent is as luxurious as you’re allowed to get because everyone is so scent-sitive these days, I recommend Meyers Clean Day Lavender scented hand soap, or Whole Foods 365 Lavender foaming hand soap.
4) Put your water bottle in a frequent pass-through spot. And every time you pass by the spot, take a swig of water. For example, keep your water bottle right next to the classroom gate, or next to the teacher’s hand washing sink. And every single time you pass through the gate, or wash your hands, you take a swig of water.
5) Throw a slice of fresh ginger or turmeric (olena) in your water bottle. This will help boost your immune system in a way that requires minimal effort on your part. If you don’t have access to these fresh medicinal Hawaiian roots, there’s always cucumber water which is equally luxurious and hydrating.