The Teacher Self-Care Dilemma
If you’re a teacher, or anyone else who does not have time for breaks throughout the day (hello, stay-at-home mom!), it’s easy to get run down. For many years I would pack what I call a “walking” lunch, which is a lunch you can eat while walking to and from the bathroom, and nothing else. Due to the active nature of the job, my stomach would be growling both during the morning and in the afternoon. Nobody likes feeling “hangry,” and as a teacher it’s especially important to be able to keep your cool. I just figured that was one of the list of negative aspects of the job, along with not being able to go to the bathroom. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered I was wrong about not being able to grab a quick snack during the school day! Today I’m sharing how I achieved a little more balance through simple self-care via snacking. This post is in partnership with KIND snacks, which have been a tasty part of my teacher snacking lineup for the past several years. Oh, and check below for a special coupon code!
Note: This post contains affiliate links. Shopping via these links means I may earn a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own, and I only share products and brands that I love and think you will, too.
Several years ago I started working out 6 days a week, drinking lots more water, and attempting to eat 6 smaller meals a day (read this post to find out why). While the results of these lifestyle changes have been transformational (read about that here and here), it has also made it harder to get through the school day. I used to go all day without using the restroom, but increasing my water intake means I can’t do that anymore.
Eating 6 meals a day is NOT easy when you you’re a teacher with no time to use the restroom, let alone eat something outside of lunch. Even with a “30-minute” lunchtime, the first and last 5-10 minutes of the lunch period are taken up with students coming and going and talking with you. The middle 10-15 minutes requires a trip to the restroom (last chance until 3:30!), and the closest one is halfway across the building from my classroom. Thus, the “walking lunch”: something I can eat with my hands while walking. As part of the whole 6 small meals a day thing, I need a snack mid-morning and another during the afternoon. As a teacher, I don’t like the idea of eating with a class of students in the room, and there isn’t enough time between classes to eat something due to getting things ready for the next class or talking with students. What’s a teacher to do?
In the past I tried bringing apples and peanut butter, trail mixes, and cheese sticks for teacher snacks, and these were okay because I could eat them while walking during my prep period, but they were often messy and didn’t always fill me up.
Over the last few years, I’ve found that I really need easy-to-eat “walking” teacher snacks with a good mix of protein and carbs (and taste). I’ve tried tons of protein bars, but they’re either too sweet, too chewy, too processed, or they don’t have the mix of protein and carbs that I’m looking for. Then I found KIND snacks!
I’ll admit I didn’t try the KIND protein bars at first because they were a little more expensive than some of the “cheap” protein bars and snacks I had tried. But once I tried them, I realized that not only are they really tasty, but they have the ability to keep me FULL for a few hours afterward, unlike so many others. I think it’s the fact that they have a more natural mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Whatever it is, I have time to down a KIND Protein Bar, or at even just half of one if pressed, on the way to the restroom during my prep period in the morning, and that keeps my hunger at bay until lunchtime.
As mentioned, I always eat a “walking” lunch. I’d love to be able to sit and leisurely enjoy a midday meal, but as a teacher, we all know that’s not going to happen. Well, unless it’s the weekend. When kids aren’t in the room, that’s work time, and I’d rather work as hard as I can while at school so I can be 100% HOME in the evenings, not grading or planning for the next school day. Keeping school at school and home at home is one of the best things I’ve tried to do over the years. It’s not always possible, but I’ve found it is absolutely necessary in order to avoid burnout and stick with teaching for the long haul.
One of my current favorite walking lunches is overnight oats made with coconut milk, a scoop of protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, and sometimes a little matcha green tea powder. I bring it in a shaker type container and drink it like a thick shake. My other favorite lunch is Greek yogurt with KIND dark chocolate or peanut butter protein granola. There are so many yummy combos: cherry-vanilla yogurt with chocolate granola, honey yogurt with peanut butter granola, coconut yogurt with chocolate granola, etc. Just yesterday I had a tub of vanilla Greek yogurt with both KIND chocolate AND peanut butter healthy grains protein granola mixed in. Delicious! You get the idea. I toss a tub of Greek yogurt and a little Ziploc baggie of granola into my lunch box with an ice pack, and I can dump the granola into the yogurt and eat it with a spoon as I’m heading down the hall. You know, to the bathroom. LOL.
Self Care and KINDness
Teaching is mentally and physically exhausting enough without also being hungry and uncomfortable. Even if you feel like you have no time, there are ways you can squeeze in good, healthy food in the form of “walking” teacher snacks and lunches. But on top of that, you need to make time to exercise, drink water, and take care of your family, friends, and home life. If you don’t, you won’t have a very long career in teaching.
Here are 5 ways you can be kind to yourself:
- Rest when you need to: naps, “mental health” day off, stay home when sick.
- Make your health a priority: sleep, water, exercise, healthy food. Even if you’re walking when you eat it.
- Be efficient: streamline, delegate, simplify whenever possible.
- Say no: protect your family and evening time, and you do NOT need to be on every committee.
- Be grateful: Think about the things you’re grateful for (faith, family, friends) and focus on those things. Treat each day as a special gift: because it is.
If you’re a stressed out teacher like I sometimes am, check out these other posts on the topic:
- 8 Ways to Ease Teacher-Mom Stress and Avoid Burnout
- 7 Ways to Recharge Over Break
- I’ll Think About It: and Other Ways to Protect Your Time
What are some ways that you practice self-care as a teacher (or anyone with a super-busy, stressful lifestyle)?
KIND Snacks Promo Code
And just for you, my friends, I’ve got a special discount code!
Enjoy! Be KIND to yourself and snack on.