The life of an educator is not an easy one. We truly do have a vocation and that can often be taken advantage of.
This Educator's Guide to Life and Living is a work in progress! I'm gathering all the ideas as you read this!
Daily survival skills for Educators
Daily survival skills and easy strategies to help educators save time and money:
Getting Ready in the Morning!
I'm a crazy busy woman. Some days I worry about my sanity. I am a teacher who is currently on a full-time contract at a public school in various roles. Originally I had planned on casual or part-time temporary but life goes in different directions and the school needs me and I need the stability!
The last two years have been quite a challenge for many of us. Over the last year I'm pretty sure I have some executive functioning issues and have to go down a path to get it formally diagnosed. In the meantime, I have a basket of strategies that I have come up with to survive over the years, and more currently through research.
The only way I survive in a morning these days is to plan my outfits in advance. I don't plan them the night before. I put a full outfit together on the coat hanger when I'm putting my clothes away, so in theory the outfit could have been planned two weeks prior. I find it quite therapeutic. I put the whole shebang together, knickers and cami and all.
In the morning, all I have to do is grab a hanger and I'm good to go. Each week or fortnight I mix the outfits up a little, but for the most part they remain somewhat stable. I don't have to fold as many clothes which is awesome and I definitely don't have to think.
I remember reading about highly successful people not wasting their time with making small decisions and it having something to do with executive functioning. When I review this article I'll have to look more into this. I'm sure its something that Sandi and Christopher Phoenix are kickass in knowing. That's their jam, not mine! When you think about Steve Jobs, he wore a black turtleneck, Mark Zuckerberg with is iconic blue t-shirt and Barack Obama.
I know that all these examples are men in the spotlight, because I suppose it is more socially acceptable for them to do this. Women however tend to be attacked in the media if they do these same things. A little bit of searching and I came across an article in Business Insider about Matilda Kahl who proudly wears the same outfit each day. She said:
“During the weekdays, I have so many creative challenges at work to keep my mind stimulated that I don’t feel an urge to express myself creatively through what I wear,” she said. “I finally had enough.”
As educators we field so many questions a day. According to research conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, educators make on average 1500 decisions in a day. Keep in mind that this was BEFORE the internet, smart boards, the standardised testing we are forced to participate in today, Assessment and Rating, Compliance visits all separate to they day to day running of our teaching and learning spaces. It's crazy.
So, I put my outfts together on a hanger so I just have to grab and go. A fellow educator and friend Kylie does the same thing, but she hangs things on the line on their hangers so she's taking it next step!
Food, Nutrition, Meal Prepping:
I have started to prepare extra servings each meal. I usually make two anyway, but I have been making three to four serves per meal.
I have been putting these extras together into flat containers which I can then freeze or eat the following night. It has been an absolute life saver. It not only is a survival skill and a life saver it is saving me money as well. Far too many times I'll duck to the shops and purchase things I certainly don't need and what I do have sometimes just dies in the bottom of the fridge. We have all been guilty of slimy cucumbers.
As I go along I realise through trial and error which meals are freezable. The stir fries and pineapple fried rice, not so much. The veggie soups have been amazing as have the pastas!
Sometimes I might only have enough extras to partly fill a container, so that's what I do. I partly fill it and leave one or two gaps for two other food items. So for example Arroz Verde which is currently my absolute favourite thing to eat - or Mexican Green Rice if you need a translation. My father learned to cook from his Mexican grandmother and I learned to cook from him, BUT we only ever made our families recipe of red rice or arroz rojo! But Oh My! I can't get enough. Anyway. I'll fill one third of the container and then freeze. Then when I make something that goes along such as refried beans and calabacitas or zucchini in a tomato sauce, I would then add them to the containers.
In doing this, I'm making sure I'm eating healthy balanced meals, I'm not wasting money, I'm not having to cook four times as I'll just cook once and I'm doing less dishes! Yay.
These meals can totally be lunches. I know a friend of mine who is also a teacher and she does the same. She's super clever with her finances and I wish I had taken a page from her book years ago!
Lunches for Educators:
For lunches though, because I am a casual teacher and don't always have access to a microwave or time to get to the staff room across the school to get to the microwave, I make salads. I have these decor containers that are 1 litre boxes that fit perfectly in my lunch box. It fills have the lunch box and I can put other items like dried fruit, apples, a coffee container etc on top.
On Sunday I'll make 3 salads. I'll start with the shredded lettuce on the bottom and then I'll top it with the traditional items such as tomato, cucumber, sometimes grated carrot, marinated artichoke hearts and slices of red capsicum. Of course this is all dependent upon availability and costs! As we all know right now so many foods are so very expensive.
I also make a chickpea salad that is one of my absolute favourites, and I'll put that over the top of my shredded lettuce. A can of chickpeas can cost as little as $0.75!, and adding in some diced lettuce, tomato, red capsicum and freshly chopped coriander ... Oh My. One of my faves. I still add in the marinated artichoke hears and you can add in some marinated feta and walnuts too. So. Good.
I try and make each salad a little differently so that there is some variety. I then use some small dressing containers that I have had for years and pop that inside of the salad container. This way it keeps the salad fresh and if the little container leaks, it leaks over the salad.
I will make three salads, and then on Wednesday I'll make two more. This way I'm saving money and making sure I eat well during the week. And I love a good fancy salad.
Health and wellness
Let's Talk Money + Finances for Educators
Money. Many of us are not really taught financial literacy are we? In my family we didn't really discuss money all that openly. It wasn't kept secret, but iI wasn't taught the details of budgeting and saving. It was just expected that I would work it out along the way.
When I first started working as a Diploma qualified educator many many moons ago, I was bringing home about $430 a week. It was pretty crap pay. There have been improvements, but it's still pretty crap considering the current costs of living today. I had to work a second job babysitting. I would finish work in the inner west of Sydney, and then travel to the city to baby sit at a hotel. I didn't have a car back then, so I travelled by bus and train and lived 45 minutes south of the city. I worked every Friday and Saturday night and I did this for years, and I mean years. I last babysat in 2011, so that's 13 years of having a second job to make ends meet and give me some perks and pleasures along the way.
Now I am not a financial expert and I am not qualified to provide you with financial advice. But I have found some wonderful resources that I am using to get my life in order! It's a journey. I am at an age where I really need to ponder my mortgage seriously, because I don't want to be paying it off in my mid 70s nor do I want to scrambling to pay bills or panicking because my contract hasn't been renewed. I want personal social security.
Budgets for Educators
For years I have been using the Money Smart Budget Planner. There is a downloadable spreadsheet and an online version but I don't like it anywhere near as much as their downloadable version. I can print the spreadsheet and then scribble on it which I quite like doing. I like to work out how much money I need to put aside into my daily spending account and my bills account etc. I'm a visual person, and I do like seeing the pie graphs and also seeing how much money I should have left over at the end of the year.
There is also a book by Scott Pape called The Barefoot Investor. I've read this book a couple of times, and I need to read it again. This year I'll finally have decent mojo amount set up and that will take some of the anxiety I feel when I'm between teaching contracts!
Because I'm totally forgetful and "easily distracted" I need to automate my finances as much as possible. It's an easy read and he has some success stories that cover a variety of people in different life situations at different states of their lives. It can be very relatable.
You can borrow it from a library, read a digital copy, buy one second hand or grab it at Big W, Target, Kmart or Booktopia. I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy.
The premise of the book is Scott Pape’s 9-steps to financial freedom:
It's about dividing your money up into buckets or categories. You have some set goals like having an emergency fund, getting rid of your credit cards and domino your debts by paying them off from the smallest to the largest and you work towards buying or paying off your home. He explores concepts like savings and investing as well as retirement. The great thing about this book and this strategy is that you can personalise it and you can afford it! Not everyone can afford to seek advice from a financial planner.
One of the other things I've been doing is playing with a compound interest calculator to see what would happen if I do invest some money. I am still deciding whether I'll put money into my superannuation or I'll invest it separately OR I'll do both!? So much adulting!
WORK IN PROGRESS ...