The effects of a busy lifestyle

It has been a while. Way too long in fact. I can see by checking back through my blog that the last time I posted was way back on …..24th February. It’s not that nothing has happened since then. Quite the contrary infact and I’ve been non-stop busy with barely any time to eat, sleep and run. Let alone blog. I finally broke for the first time on Thursday night after a build up of several nights where I had gotten no more than 3-4 hours sleep. Sleep time on the VivofitI had woken that morning at 4am so that I could bake some brownies before work as it had been my turn to take treats to the running club committee meeting that evening and also for the department at break the following day. When I arrived home after work that night I began to peel the brownie off the non-stick paper. Except it had stuck. Brownie disaster I couldn’t peel it off and the bits I could peel off were falling apart in my hands. I don’t know what happened. Brownies are normally my speciality but all I was left with was a pile of squishy brownie pieces! Brownie disaster I rushed off to Tesco to pick up some cakes to take to the committee meeting, except there was nothing I deemed appropriate so jumped back into the car to head to Morrisons where I found a few packs of muffins. I arrived to the meeting all flustered and feeling rather inadequate for having not baked the goods myself.  Within seconds of arriving at the meeting I had received a list of things that I would need to do over the next couple of weeks.  Things I really didn’t have time to do.  The stress of that, along with the lack of sleep and my complete over-reaction over something that really didn’t matter (the brownies) meant that I burst into tears and had to leave the room. Several things have been building over the past couple of weeks to make me feel like I am purely existing at the moment…

Work – I started at my current school in January, taking over 21 classes from a series of supply teachers and with piles and piles of unfiled and unmarked student work left in the corner of my classroom which I have been slowly marking in sets of two hours each night.  Last week we had a marking scrutiny at work. Three class boxes were chosen at random from each teacher and as a teacher who teaches 518 students, that was a lot of folder work to catch up on!  Obviously I had a good excuse if anything from Christmas had not been filed or marked but it would only be a good excuse to my Head of Department.  Ofsted would know no different and with an inspection imminent before Easter it’s best to get it done and dusted ready for when they turn up.  It’s also really is not fair on the kids that they never received feedback on their work. This week at school we have inspections from ‘mock’ Ofsted inspectors taking place on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  For readers not familiar with teaching protocol, when inspections are taking place every lesson taught has to be written out in full detail with timings and printed out alongside a seating plan which highlights gifted students, weak students, those on free school meals and those with learning difficulties. We need to provide scenarios for each class showing what students have already covered and where they are headed with their learning.  It’s a lot of extra work simply to prove that you know the students within your classes. Night after night of marking – this week sometimes up to six hours of marking after a full day of school has had it’s toll.  Especially with students like this…!

Student workNo, no it doesn’t…it shows you have FIVE pictures!  Simple things, but incredibly annoying!

House move – After a batch of viewings in quick succession just before half term we have now failed to have any viewings for a few weeks.  With a viewing potentially still just a phone call away I’ve tried my best to stay on top of the housework and cleaning but I must say I wouldn’t let anyone in further than our porch at the moment!  Up until this week Dan and I have been viewing several properties on the market as potentials that we might purchase but it has gotten rather disheartening – falling in love with property after property only to see them with a SOLD board up the following week.

Web work – Alongside my teaching job I also run a couple of websites for small businesses and keep the running club website up to date.  One of the websites I am responsible for is long overdue an upgrade to the WordPress platform which I reminded the owner of at the start of 2014.  I’ve finally had the ‘go ahead’ but with possibly the worst ever timing as I’ve struggled to fit it in around everything else in this list!

Hen do – This past weekend was the hen do of one of my best friends, Vicki. Although the Maid of Honour was in charge of the majority of the weekend I picked up several tasks such as producing the invites and putting together a video of clips of memories and good luck messages which each of the hens had recorded over the past six weeks. Being the perfectionist I am I wanted this video to be perfect and probably spent close to twenty hours completing it, as well as a couple of hours on the invites and cards with clues we gave Vicki throughout the weekend. Vick and Me at her hen do Hospital appointments – A fortnight ago I fitted an appointment at the doctors in to check up on my strange weight loss from the past few weeks.  I was sent for blood tests at the local blood drop-in clinic.  Typically at the clinic the opening hours were not outside of work hours and instead from 8am-3pm.  The teaching hours at my school (45 minute drive from the surgery) are 8:15am-3:15pm.  On Wednesday I had some planning time scheduled in for after my lunch break so decided to make a mad rush for the clinic at the start of lunch, figuring it wouldn’t be as busy over lunchtime…The surgery was more packed than I have ever seen it before and bursting with toddlers and babies – who each took up two nurses to hold them still.  Needless to say it was another mad rush back to the school to return in time for the after school meeting.

Running has taken a back seat purely due to lack of time, and yet running is something that helps me to relax and destress after a busy day.  I ran a total of once last week.  Just once, and a run of only 2.75 miles.  From someone who regularly runs 5-6 days a week and covers about 40 miles in each seven day period this makes me rather sad.  :(  Healthy eating, or even eating at all has been tough and sleep has been almost non-existent.  I work until midnight and my alarm goes again somewhere between 4-5am depending upon how much work I have to complete. Something that has helped me to organise my busy schedule is the Remember the Milk app on my school iPad. Remember the Milk app As an ICT teacher I am definitely not a fan of iPad.  I’m much more of an android girl myself, but the iPad I have in my classroom at school is a great tool for organising my day – both in school and for after school as well.  I’ve split my to-dos into lots of manageable sections and find it really easy to add items to each list along with the day that I want to complete that task.  It’s super easy to add names of students onto my catch up kids, demerits, detentions and merits lists as I’m walking around the classroom so that I remember to add these online when I get to the end of the day.

I’m not sure how to find the perfect work-life balance and my scales are wobbling rather wildly at the moment as I figure things out.  An analogy that is often used in my profession is that you live like a swan – graceful above the surface for all to see and madly paddling underneath the surface to keep afloat.
It’s been a long couple of weeks…

Do you ever feel as though you are just ‘existing’?  Getting by from day to day…
Any tips for making it through the busy times?

12 thoughts on “The effects of a busy lifestyle

  1. I totally sympathise- we were expecting ofsted from Easter last year so everyone was expected to be highly on top of everything- I was frequently marking until midnight and spending most of the weekend working. Once Andy told me if I got everything done on Saturday we would go out on Sunday for the day, which I really needed.
    Can I just say though, that you should not be producing extra things for Ofsted. Ours finally came in November- the meeting with the inspectors in the morning they set out their expectations, but they can’t ask for plans or anything. All ours asked for was to write on the board number of children present/ number in the class (eg 29/30 if one was away) and I forgot that on the second day. One said she would like to see a plan, but told us she was not allowed to ask for them-because the framework says that you should have to do no extra work for Ofstd (laughable, because of course we do, but not plans)- because they don’t look at whole lessons much, they pop in and out, look at books/ assessments/ displays etc. With their meetings with heads of departments/ subject leaders they will look at attainment and progression/ assessment data. Our last one, 5 years ago, we had to have all of that info in a folder in each room (but then it was 2 days notice, not less than 24 hours)- I wonder if someone at your school is going on a past framework?
    The thing is, if you carry on like this you will make yourself ill, and then have to be off work. Is there any way you can do some peer marking, or self marking of old work? Eg spend a lesson looking at success criteria and getting them to mark themselves- then if you collect it in you can agree (hopefully) with their marking and just add a comment?
    I hope things get better for you.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Jantastic week 9- home straightMy Profile

    1. I didn’t realise that they can’t ask for plans anymore. I mean, we all work from the same Scheme of Work so there are base SOW lesson plans available that I could share and I have seating plans for each class as a matter of course. Student folders display all levels and it takes no more than a few minutes to find information on SEN/G+T/etc on the computers. But collating all of that information and keeping up to date paper copies seems like a waste of time when you then have to change it in so many places. When did the framework change, do you know?
      I feel a bit bad (although it’s not my fault) that student work from September was not marked by their previous teacher so don’t really feel that I can ask students to self-assess that work now. I do have six groups of year eight with a topic assessment to finish next week though which I can tweak for peer assessment and hopefully that will take a bit of pressure off.
      Thanks for the suggestions. Very much appreciated.

      1. The framework has changed a stupid amount of times in the past year- we were seen in November under the September one, but it could have changed since then- I think it had 10 changes in the last year or something silly. See here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/391531/School_inspection_handbook.pdf
        Point 41 states that they do not expect to see individual lesson plans and that is Jan 2015 so must be the most up to date one.
        I think having info about each class is sensible, and each team is different- at least once you have it ready, it won’t really change.
        Roll on the Easter holidays eh??
        Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Pretty baking!My Profile

        1. Working in private education for 16 months got me out of the way of Ofsted thinking.
          Thanks for passing over that link, I’ve spent a few days looking through what’s required and reading up on it. There’s such a panic around the word ‘Ofsted’ that I think everyone automatically produces pages of extra data that no-one has time to be interested in. It’s getting that balance right that I need to do and making sure I have everything to hand that I need!

  2. I’m so sorry you’ve been under so much stress recently. Looking at all of the plates you’re spinning right now, I honestly think anyone would crack and crumble when you combine it with a severe lack of sleep. I do worry that you’re someone who has trouble with saying ‘no’ to things because you’re so selfless and kind, but it’s not a great trait to have in the long term for your own health and wellbeing. You remind me a lot of my Mum, and she spent her whole life being all things to all people only for it to have a horrible impact on her health. I do wonder if your weight loss might be partially stress-related, because even outside of her issues with anorexia my Mum loses weight whenever she is placed under any level of stress…I suppose that’s partially because she shuts off and can’t eat when she’s anxious (I do the exact opposite…).

    The level of pressure your school is putting on you seems borderline unreasonable to me. They can’t expect you to pick up the pieces of their poor organization and management as a result of neglecting to hire a permanent member of staff for so long. I get the feeling they are taking advantage of you because they know you care about the kids, but there has to come a point where they give you an appropriate amount of time to get everything done. In fact, almost all of the problems you’re facing are down to other people not pulling their weight and you having to compensate for it.

    I really hope things calm down for you soon and you’re able to run again. Just remember that it’s okay to put yourself first sometimes…given that you’re a self-confessed perfectionist, I know that’s extremely hard, but you are more than worth having enough time in a day to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing.
    Jess @ One Step Closer recently posted…Lindsays Borders Marathon ~ 3:31:28My Profile

    1. Thanks for your comment Jess. I definitely have trouble saying no!
      Potentially my weight loss could be stress-related, although it did begin before things got really hectic at work. I think people tend to go one way or the other when stressed – they overeat, or are jittery, fidgety and forget to eat! I know I have been both in the past!
      I think potentially I am putting the pressure on myself, rather than having the pressure put on me by the school. I want to prove that I can do well and cope with what is thrown my way. I don’t want to let the school down in a future inspection. But I am also really looking forward to a fresh start in September, where I can begin the year with my own classes, who I will keep on for the whole year and can get organised with from the very beginning.
      I have managed to get out for a run on three nights so far this week. Although nothing particularly strenuous, it has been good to get out again this week. With a relatively free weekend I am hoping to recuperate a little and catch up on some work so that I can repeat the runs again next week. Not long ’til Easter break now!

  3. Oh my life, you’re life is mental!! You teachers are just supermen and women! I can’t believe you set an alarm for 4am to make brownies as well. You are dedicated! It’s such a shame they stuck to the paper though – how devastating. But at least you could eat the remains?
    It really sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate right now – and unfairly a lot from the school with the marking and offsted demands. Sorry that it’s so stressful. Without sounding preachy or whatever, have you thought of giving a few things up for now – like the extra website stuff? Just to give yourself some time to properly sleep and recover from life.
    I’ll never complain again about feeling stressed that’s for sure.
    Anna @AnnaTheApple recently posted…My baby T-Rex and fashionable fitness ##HHCatwalkMy Profile

    1. It sounds really silly setting a 4am alarm for brownies now I look back, but at the time it was vital for them to be homemade! I definitely made sure to wolf down those remains. When I returned from the hen do on Sunday evening, Dan and I filled each other in on our weekends (he had been on the stag do) whilst sipping on hot chocolates and munching on brownie bits. They were still pretty tasty, just not very presentable unfortunately!
      I am planning on knocking a few things back in the run up to Easter. I have an upgrade to do for a site this weekend, but that will be the only real big website stuff until school holidays. The hen do is over now and with the wedding half way through the holidays I should be able to jump in during the holidays but won’t be needed until then. I’ve had a couple of afternoon/evening naps this week and they’ve made a massive difference.
      I know I am not the only one to feel stressed. Feel free to complain also…might make me feel a bit better about my blow up last week then! 😛

  4. First time commenting here… But I’ve been a silent reader for a few months! I recently told my husband that I like your blog because you are so kind. He asked me “How do you know? You don’t know her in real life!”. Well I just know it because of what you write (unless you’re very good at faking kindness! it just perpires from your writing!). ;o) I’m worried about your wellbeing like the other commenters and really hope you soon find a better balance. Good luck! :o)

    1. Hi, and thanks for commenting! Such a lovely comment as well. :)
      I know what you mean. I read a large number of blogs and have never met the majority of the authors, yet I feel as though I know their personality through their blog.
      I’m working on that balance. I think last week put a lot into perspective for me and it has caused me to rethink what I consider to be important right now. Running is pretty high on that list, so the fact I didn’t get time for it helped motivate me to make some changes, however small!

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