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Work Home Organizing Life 4 Teachers (WHOL4Ed) started as a conversation. Multiple conversations actually between two friends who both happen to be teachers. The setting was always changing, a neighborhood block party, a meal making event, or an afternoon playdate, but the conversation was always the same. How are you staying organized at school and finding time to do all the family things that you cherish? This was the cadence of every conversation between two busy wives, moms, friends, teachers.

For the past five years we have had the great privilege of sharing our WHOL4Ed journey as we strive to keep both our lives at home and at school organized. We decided to share this conversation with other teachers through the Graduate Professional Development for Educators (GPDE) program at Saint Mary’s University in the form of a summer course offering. This incredible, engaging, and provocative conversation always returned to the idea of balance. How do we, as teachers, balance our personal and professional lives in ways that bring joy to both? We have three strategies that we employ to help achieve balance even on days it feels like true balance is nothing but a myth.

Strategy #1: Systems
Systems include routines, rituals and predictable practices that help our daily lives run more smoothly. Systems help bring order and minimize wasted time because tasks are predetermined and familiar. Systems encompass anything from monthly meal calendars and cleaning schedules to weekly school task checklists. These predictable strategies lessen indecision, streamline weekly tasks and bring order to busy days.

Strategy #2: Margin
When life feels unbalanced, building in margin, or buffer to our space and time is essential. It is when we don’t build in margin that we allow our circumstances to raise our stress levels unnecessarily. For example, if you know you have a meeting at 3:30 and it takes you 30 minutes to get there, do not allow ONLY 30 minutes. Instead, add 15 minutes of margin time. This will allow extra time to park, find your meeting, and gather your focus.

Strategy #3: Self Care
We often neglect this important concept right when we need it the most. Many of us feel guilty when we take time to do something that brings us joy or helps recenter us in the midst of life feeling chaotic. Letting go of this guilt is the first step of self-care. When life feels unbalanced, taking care of ourselves will restore our energy for the tough work ahead. Read that book. Take that bath. Kill that workout. Your outlook, to-do list, and loved ones will thank you.

These are just three of many strategies infused throughout the WHOL4Ed philosophy that can be the spark of transformation to a more balanced life both at home and at school.

Life may be messy, but the mess is worth it.
― Emily Ley, Grace, Not Perfection

By: Katie Higgins and Emily Albrecht