Art Teacher Work-Life Balance

By The Arty Teacher - December 31, 2018

Is it really possible to create an art teacher work-life balance? Regularly on social media, I see teachers writing that they can’t take it anymore, that they’re at the end of their tether: burnt out. If you are feeling that you are heading in that direction, you need to stop and take the advice below which has come from experienced teachers.

If you make even one of these ideas a habit, this blog post will have been worth reading.


Art Teacher Work-Life Balance

I really envy anyone who can walk to work.  If you don’t live near enough you could park a distance away and walk from there.  Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.  I know, I know, you have lots to carry but a suitcase on wheels could resolve that if you were determined enough.  Or doing your making at work could be the answer.

Walk the dog!  Walking is good for you and having a dog has benefits for your mental health too.  Dog owners are less likely to be depressed.

Plan to exercise with a friend. This has really worked for me.  You are more likely to go as you won’t want to let them down and you can encourage each other.  Sharing a coffee after the exercise is also a treat.

Life Responsibilities

Children, spouses or partners, housework, cooking and ironing, they all eat into our precious time.  They can feel overwhelming and we must remind ourselves that some are more important than others!

We’ve all got to eat, and eating healthily is undoubtedly a good idea.  Batch cooking can really help as it’s just as easy to make double.  I couldn’t survive without it. Having home-cooked meals in the freezer makes me feel in control.  I try and make double of one meal each week.

 “I bought a mini-crockpot for $10 and throw stuff into it overnight. In the morning, it’s instant lunch to go and dinner is leftovers. “ Michelle Peacock.

For housework, Art Teacher Maria Hemmerling suggests that you pair up tasks.  When you do the dusting, phone a loved one.  When you do the ironing, catch up on educational videos from your favorite art teachers or visual artists.  These are great suggestions.  What could you pair up?


Break-time isn’t just break-time for your students.  It’s meant to be a break for you too.  Make sure you make the time for a drink and toilet break.  If you can’t fit this in, something is wrong, and you need to look into what can change.  Of course, there are going to be some days that break this rule, but it shouldn’t be every day.

I find it easier to mark work at school, although we are all different.  Work out when you find it a good time to mark work and try to plan for that.  Having a plan will make you feel like you can cope.  Some teachers like to get up early and do it when they feel at their freshest, some prefer to set time aside at the weekend.  Give some thought to what works best for you.

“I don’t take work home that’s my rule. Whatever doesn’t get done has to wait. Took me 15 years to realize that.” Art teacher Brittaine Pulver.

Getting involved with the school play scenery and costumes can be worthwhile and rewarding, but if this ‘ask’ or any other is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back saying ‘no’ is the answer.  Learning to say no is a useful skill but one that doesn’t come easily to most.  Simply explaining that you wouldn’t know when you could fit ‘that’ in on top of all your other responsibilities would be an honest start.  Alternatively, suggest that you could do the new task if you were given some time off-timetable or instead of another responsibility might be a route forward.

Make Your Own Art

Making your own art can be therapeutic and rewarding. Try and make a space for your art where you can leave things out.  This might be difficult, but if you succeed, you save on all the clearing away time, and it’s there for you to pick up from where you left off instantly. If you need inspiration, try the Facebook group Art Teachers Making Art.  It’s supportive and inspiring.

Try a time challenge.  Challenge yourself to do 30 minutes (or more if you have the time) every day.  You’ll soon see progress!

“A person has to find time for themselves for at least an hour a day to keep themselves sane and happy. I am going to be writing out a schedule starting January 2nd and try my best to follow it!” Art teacher Tara Thompson-Chambers.

Carry a sketchbook.  We tell our students to do this. Let’s practice what we preach!  If a drawing every day is impossible, how about aiming for 3 a week?

When did you last learn something new?  I love being the student instead of the teacher. Book yourself on a course.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekly course or just one Saturday.  Just do it!  Paying for it and having it in the diary will make you do it. It will help you achieve an art teacher work-life balance’.

“Sometimes some stages of my work require up to 30-60 minutes of waiting when layers will dry. So if I work from home – I use that waiting period to do some laundry … while I wait on laundry to be done – I paint!” Art teacher Maria Hemmerling.

Make art instead of staring at a screen.  (I’m so guilty of this!)  Let’s be honest, how long do you spend staring at a screen?  It might be social media or Youtube, but if you add up all that time each week, you really could spend it making art.

Sleep Isn’t Rest

It took me a long time to realise sleep isn’t rest. Your rest might be running or yoga, or making art. It might be walking or meeting a friend for coffee. If you are only working and sleeping five days a week, you may find yourself burning out.

Get Help with a Subscription to The Arty Teacher

Another way to strike a work-life balance is to subscribe to The Arty Teacher.  With a subscription, you can download 10 resources every month.  Just think of the amazing, time-saving bank of resources that you will build up!  It gives you complete units of work and fresh ideas every week.  Learn more here.

I hope you’ve found some of these points useful.  If you have any useful ideas to share, please comment below as I’m keen to know more ways to achieve an Art Teacher Work-Life Balance!

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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