The routines that sustain me

Reading others’ posts about the routines that sustained them made me reflect on my own.

I loved being a teacher, Middle/Senior Leader and head, but over the 30 years I fulfilled those roles full-time I was quite ‘time-poor’ and it’s only now, post-career, that I have more freedom and flexibility about the routines I choose to follow.  If I’m asked about the main difference between full-time work in education and the part-time study/consultancy activity I have been involved in since I left headship in 2010, I say the difference can be summed up in the words ‘time’ and ‘choice’.

I like routine.  Despite enjoying my professional life, I always felt a bit low at the end of a long holiday, just before the new term started – back to early mornings, responding to bells, dealing with a range of pressures.  But I also knew that once the new term started I would feel fine and would find the energy to rise to, and enjoy, the challenges.  I always found settling back into the routine of work quite comforting.

But now I decide what I want to do, and am very lucky that I don’t have to take on anything I DON’T want to do.  I’m fortunate that I’m offered opportunities to undertake interesting work in education – I enjoy speaking in schools and at conferences (especially about leadership), helping senior leaders and heads in appraisal/professional review, and helping governors appoint new heads.  I’ve enjoyed my involvement in Twitter, and blogging, and have relished the new contacts I’ve made as a result of this involvement.  Through the National College for Teaching and Leadership I’ve worked with principals in Trinidad and Tobago, which was both pleasurable and rewarding.  And I derived huge satisfaction from my part-time doctorate (researching the transition from deputy headship to headship) and writing ‘Making the Leap’ (Crown House, 2016) after the thesis was submitted.

So what is it that sustains me?

  1. I exercise more than I did and try to do at least half an hour’s exercise each day, ideally first thing in the morning – on Wii Fit at home or in a hotel gym if I’m staying away.
  2. Spending more time with my husband – holidays and mini-breaks and just BEING together is brilliant, particularly after the ten years of headship when I did a weekly commute and only saw him at weekends.
  3. Seeing my mum twice a week – now in her nineties and physically frail but mentally as alert as ever.
  4. Catching up with friends I didn’t see enough of in the last 30 years – I now frequently meet for coffee or lunch people whose company I enjoy.

An ideal week for me involves 2-3 days’ paid work (or preparation for that), two visits to mum and then just spending time with my husband, friends and family. That’s what sustains me now.

What routines sustain you?

Photo credit: John Berry. My mum’s 92nd birthday.

A version of this post was originally published on @staffrm in 2015

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