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Teacher overload, teacher burnout or teacher stress - it doesn't matter what you call it, something has to change.......and soon! I think we need massive cultural change, where teacher wellbeing, alongside the wellbeing of our students, becomes a top priority. To me, improving wellbeing for our school communities is the best way to help everyone reach their potential.
However, we know that is not going to change overnight and in the meantime, it is vital that we take control of the things that we can control otherwise teacher overload is going to be an even bigger issue.
Every teacher needs a cleaner
I'm going to share why I think every teacher needs a cleaner and how you can afford to have a cleaner of your own without giving up anything that you already have in your life.
First, you may have to get past the resistance!
I have had a cleaner for ages now, but it's taken me a while to get to the point that I'm actually happy to tell people that I've got a cleaner. I used to be embarrassed because I felt that I should be able to do everything myself.
I used to think "what would my mother-in-law think if I got a cleaner?" because I felt a bit of pressure to be managing the house, working, looking after the kids and looking after her boy! Looking back, I have no idea why I thought that, because she loves us all and just wants us to be happy, so wouldn't give 2 hoots about whether we had a cleaner or not. However, at the time my head was telling me different!
You might feel some resistance to getting a cleaner too.
"Will they be rifling through my knicker drawer?"
"Will they judge me?"
"Will they tell other people about me?"
"Will they think that I'm posh or that I think I'm better than them?"
All sorts of ridiculous nonsense may come into your head, so just notice the thoughts and question whether they are valid or not valid.
Teacher overload and household overload
I think we need a cleaner because quite simply, we've got enough to do. We are absolutely overloaded with tasks. Think about all the things we do from the minute we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night; we are just on the go all the time. Washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, looking after kids, exercise, appointments, gardening, looking after relatives......that's without even thinking about school work, which we know is way more than a full-time job!
We simply can't do it all.
If we continue trying to do it all, we are going to burn out. The first thing is we need to accept that we can't do it all. I think as teachers, we are quite guilty of thinking that we can!
Give yourself permission to say "I can't do it all."
Coming home to relax
Another reason that I think we need a cleaner is that we need to be able to switch off and relax at home. If you come through the door, after a long day at work and the house is a tip, the last thing you feel able to do is relax. Instead, your brain is whirring noticing all the things you need to do and the stress already gained from work, just gets magnified as you walk through the door.
Being able to come home to a clean and tidy house feels like such a treat and puts you into a totally different frame of mind. Although it might not stay clean and tidy for long, especially if you have children, the feeling of walking through that door is just magic! It reduces teacher overload and promotes a feeling of calmness, making you feel more in control.
Part of the problem with teacher overload is that our brains have about 40 different tabs open at once! Having a cleaner can actually increase productivity because you can stop and focus on whatever you are doing, without thinking about having to hoover, dust or clean the bathroom. Being able to focus fully on one thing means that you will do that thing much more quickly and effectively, thereby gaining yourself time and reduce stress.
Employing a cleaner does not mean that we are exploiting someone or expecting someone to do things that we wouldn't do. Hiring a cleaner means that we are giving someone else an income, often for doing something that they enjoy. As long as you pay them a decent wage, then it is a win-win situation for both parties.
I can't afford it!
This used to be my mantra for everything, back when I was stuck in a place of overwhelm and was a right old moan!
However, I changed my mindset around money and realised that if I reduced my spending on the things that meant nothing to me, then I could have money for all the things that I really wanted. By that time, I had decided that a cleaner was high on the list.
If you are wondering whether you can afford a cleaner, then I have a few suggestions which will help you to reduce costs enough to prioritise a cleaner, without giving up anything that you love.
Start with a £294 saving
The average homeowner can save £294 pounds a month on their mortgage, according to Habito, an online mortgage broker. With interest rates looking likely to increase over the next few years, it is a great time to check your mortgage to see if you can get a better deal. Habito make this so easy, with their online chat service and online portal for uploading documents - no more emailing back and forward.
Average £725 a year saving
Which research has shown that you can save an average of £725 a year simply by haggling with your providers for car and home insurance, car breakdown cover, phone, broadband, TV, mobile phone, and energy.
Do a quick comparison online to check what the best deals are, then simply get in touch with your current provider to see if they can offer you a better deal. Money Saving Expert's site shows that you can have over 80% chance of getting a better deal from the RAC, Admiral, the AA, Virgin, Sky and Talk Talk, simply by asking! It's got to be worth a try.
£354 a month
If you make the average savings, described above, then you will have saved yourself £354 a month. If you had a cleaner for 3 hours a week and paid them £12 an hour it would only cost you £156 a month. You would still have another couple of hundred quid to invest in something else that would add value to your life. Someone to do the washing and ironing too? A decluttering expert? A gardener? A Twinkl membership? Personal chef?
You might think that some of those sound a bit fanciful, but are they? That £354 could buy you nearly 7 hours a week at £12 an hour. Could you employ someone to cook, clean and do the washing in that time? What difference would that make to you? How much stress would that remove?
Remember that this is the free £354 that you could potentially gain from checking your mortgage and haggling with suppliers, so it is worth having a look at both these things?
Yes or no?
Are you beginning to think that having a cleaner might not be a bad idea or are you still feeling resistance around it? If you are still resistant to the idea, then look to see why there's a reluctance. Start writing down reasons why you can't have a cleaner and examine those reasons and ask yourself whether they really are valid reasons. Or is it worth thinking about how you can overcome them and hire a cleaner?
Hi, I’m Eileen Adamson, teacher, money coach and co-host of BBC podcast Clever About Cash. I help female teachers to become happier, healthier and wealthier.