Whether you love or hate your commute to school, it’s likely you had a solid routine in place before COVID-19 knocked it down like a tsunami. For many of us, the trip from school to home was sacred. It marked the end of the school day and allowed us to wind down after a busy, loud day with the kids. I loved driving in a silent car, cherishing that for the first time that day, no one was asking me a question or interrupting me while I dashed down the hallway to the bathroom before my next class. If you are teaching at home now, your commute might be from your kitchen to your bedroom. You might find yourself answering student emails at 11:00 pm and feel like your workday never ends. If so, it’s time to create a way to wind down. Here is our list of evening routines for teachers: all ten minutes or less.
1. Got 10 minutes? Transition out of teaching with a closing ritual.
One of the biggest complaints teachers have about pandemic teaching is that there is no longer a clear separation between school/work and home. I loved the consistency of my school schedule and that the bell signaled the start and end of the day. When you aren’t used to working from home, you might find yourself working nonstop. Your brain needs a signal that it is no longer work time. Here are some suggestions.
- For my type-A teacher friends, go through your to-do list, make your list for tomorrow, and organize your desk. And go ahead and color-code your planner (I know you want to). Then, leave the room and close the door!
- For my always working teacher friends who carry their laptops around the house and get work done on the couch, shut down your computer. It’s exhausted too!
- For my tired teacher friends who just want to go to sleep, even though it’s 4:00, get outside. Take a walk, and call a friend.
- For my wound up teacher friends who feel super stressed, pour yourself a beverage of choice, and take a few minutes to journal or read.
2. Got 8 minutes? Clean and organize your teaching space.
There’s nothing worse than waking up to a mess that you then have to work in. If you are teaching from home, take some time the night before to tidy up your workspace. I know a teacher who writes a positive affirmation on a Post It and sticks it on her computer, so it’s the first thing she sees before she starts teaching the next day. While you’re cleaning up, play your favorite music, and sing along. It may sound silly, but part of an evening routine is releasing stress and tension from the day (don’t worry, no one is watching).
3. Got 6 minutes? Do something just for you.
There’s a lot to get done after school’s out. If you have kids, you’re helping them with homework, playing, and picking up toys. Then there is dinner (meal planning and cooking feel like a full-time job). By the time the dishes are done, you’re exhausted! This is why it is so important to take a few minutes to do something just for you. Now, I know what you’re thinking: who has time for that? But hear me out. It can be small and simple. Light your favorite candle. Read a few pages of that book everyone’s telling you that you’ll love. Journal for a few minutes or draw.
4. Got 4 minutes? Indulge and treat yourself.
We are more energized to get up and do our work when we treat ourselves and indulge in something that makes us feel good. Every night let yourself go a bit. Eat some chocolate. Curl up under a weighted blanket. Slowly sip your favorite tea or beverage of choice. Find a lotion or hand cream you love and apply it before bed. The idea is to spoil yourself. You deserve it!
5. Got 2 minutes? Put your phone away.
It’s hard to fall asleep if you are scrolling social media on your phone. We look at screens more than ever now that we are teaching online. You need a break from them, especially if you want to fall asleep more easily. Don’t worry about FOMO. No one can go anywhere or do much at all right now (thanks, 2020!).
6. Got 1 minute? Get in bed and be still.
Teachers are on the move all day long. It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job where there isn’t a lot of quiet or stillness. When you finally get into bed, get comfortable, and try to be still. You can scan your body from head to toe and check in. Where do you feel tension? Can you take some deep breaths and release it? Can’t sleep? Here are 12 Teacher-Tested Tips for Getting Better Sleep Every Night.
7. Got 30 seconds? Think about what you are grateful for.
If your mind just won’t stop going, quiet down the noise with gratitude. Focus on your breath. When you breathe in, think “I am,” and when you breathe out, think “grateful.” Once you’ve settled your mind, let yourself picture the people, places, and things that you are grateful for. There’s no better way to fall asleep.
What are your favorite evening routines for teachers? Share in the comments! Plus, get more teacher stories and tips by subscribing to our newsletter.
Also: Three Playlists Every Teacher Needs for the 2020-2021 School Year.