A guest blog post by Anik Therrien Clara

My name is Anik Therrien Clara and I have been an elementary teacher in Ontario since September 2010. Having experienced obstacles with mental health, I have had the opportunity to attend classes, such as mindfulness, CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) to name a few and learned numerous techniques to take charge of my anxiety.

Tips to achieve a work-life balance

I think we can all agree that Covid-19 has brought a variety of unwanted feelings over the last year. One can undoubtedly feel overwhelmed, stressed, fearful, confused, worried, sad and lonely to name a few. Now I urge you to let this sink in…

Whether you are a parent, a teacher or a child, I can assure you that all three of you are feeling these unpleasant emotions. Someone is always going to have a different opinion than us and we need to remember – that’s okay. I have read countless blogs, articles and social media posts to observe that NO ONE is happy about this pandemic. It is easy to be consumed with your personal emotions and to allow that frustration to build up.

“How do we find a work and home balance?”

The big question this year seems to be : “How do we find a work and home balance?”

This is a GREAT question and as much as I want to give you the answer…I can’t because I do not know your current situation, mood status, etc.. I can however give you, the reader, some tips that can maybe help you along your way in this chaotic life of ours.

“What is important to me?”

First and foremost, it is crucial that whether you are the parent, the teacher or the student, you must ask yourself : “What is important to me?”. Perhaps some family time is essential to your day. One might simply want to shower without a child barging into the bathroom. You might prioritize some self-soothing activities for yourself or even exercise. Whatever the case may be, here are some questions that you can ask yourself in order to help fill your “energy tank”. What is an “energy tank”? Well click on the following link to be redirected to a wonderful blog post by blog author, Betsy Capes, to learn all about it.

Taking some time for yourself

Ten to twenty minutes is all you need to feel better! If your kids can keep occupied for longer, then bonus for you my friend! Here are websites you can visit to help you with ideas that can keep your child busy to help you make time for yourself. Remember to tell them to start their timer and for this time period, it is quiet/independent time. Alert to all the caregivers : THIS WILL TAKE SOME TIME AND PRACTICE!

** Attached is a visual that your kids can refer to before and during their “independent time.”

 I am independent for 20 minutes!

  • This is of course only an example of what your child’s chart can look like. Your child might be old enough to go to the washroom on their own or perhaps they are too young and the adult might need to enter the 20 minutes on the timer/phone.
  • It is important to go through problem solving with your kids. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they would do if by chance the computer stops working. It’s pretty amazing to hear their answers.
  • Rehearse it with them. Kids like to pretend they are the “teacher” and so ask them to tell you a play by play as to what they will do to set up their independent time activities to not bother you.

Example : “First, I will have to go to the washroom. Then, I will pick an easy and healthy snack (an apple). Once I have done that, I will go grab a few things that can help me be independent for 20 minutes if my site on the computer happens to not work. Once I am done, I will sit at the table and set 20 minutes on my timer. Then, I can try playing online again!”

Few activities for independent time

  1. Find other sites that they are familiar with so they can go play when they are done with the first one – remember bookmarking them on their home screen will be very easy for them to find the sites.
  2. Colour in a book or on paper
  3. Play with toys quietly
  4. Work on a Word Search
  5. Work on a Puzzle
  6. Read a book

Energy conservation

Energy conservation is a must if you want to maintain a work and home balance. Don’t be afraid to plan your week bullet point wise! Insert those 10 to 20 minutes in your calendar. It is just as important as doctors appointments and your deadlines with work. Prioritize yourself! Recognize that you are important and taking 10 to 20 minutes for yourself will not sabotage your day. In fact, studies show that you are more productive by taking breaks!

Always ask yourself these important questions first

So, I ask you, the reader, to note what is important for yourself, your child and your family. What you might think is crucial, another, might disagree. What we forget to remember is that we are all uniquely different. What is more beautiful than this precious gift?

Therefore, before you send that angry email to your boss, your child’s teacher or your coworker…check within yourself first. Are your tanks empty? Have you taken a small break? Increase your productivity level by having positive emotions. Now go take a break! You deserve it!

Anik Therrien Clara
Mind Growth Education, Guest Blog Writer