Sunday night teacher blues. It’s as real as your flair pens.
Yes, you love your students. And, yes, once you’re in the swing of Monday, you’re happy to be back. (mostly)
But Sunday morning? It whispers in your ear, “It’s almost over!”
You push the meddlesome thought away, swing yourself out of bed, and do your thing. But the Sunday night monster casts a shadow on the day.
It’s not a productive cycle, is it? So how do you free yourself? What if you could come back Monday morning with a spring in your step, excited for the new week? Is that even possible?
(Spoiler: Yes! Yes it is!)
Face the monster
To solve something, you first need to understand it. Just like getting rid of the winter blues, you need to know what’s causing it.
Here is list of possible reasons why you may feel the Sunday night teacher blues.
(Note: it may be a downer to read this list, but solving a problem requires confronting it head-on. Face the monster!)
Reasons for those Sunday night teacher blues
- ungraded papers
- planning for school week
- food shopping /lunch prep
- less time with friends/partner/kids/pets
- cleaning house/apartment
- you have low energy
- your classroom is a mess and you dread walking back into it
- piles of laundry to wash/dry/sort/fold/put away
- your own kids are not thriving / you dread that unhappiness cycle rebooting
- waking up early
- Monday/weekly tasks awaiting
- your school is too cold
- your school is too hot
- that parent
- the weekend was busy and you don’t feel rested. You need a weekend from your weekend.
- You didn’t do all the things you planned to this weekend.
- parent teacher conferences are coming up
- progress reports are due
- Back to School night is approaching and you’re not even close to being ready
- something in your classroom management is suddenly not working
- you have fallen way behind on giving effective feedback to your students
Moreover, most of us schedule all of our fun things on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday? That’s tasks and catch-up day. No wonder it’s such a downer!
Chip away the Sunday night teacher blues
First, let’s look at your life like a block of marble. Michaelangelo said that the statue of David was inside that block and he just had to chip away the excess. What can you chip away from your marble block?
And what beautiful things await when you chip away the excess?
Maybe cleaning the house is your weekend time-eater. Consider the solutions. If you have the cash, hire someone to come in once a week. Or twice a month. Or once a month. They can do some of that deeper cleaning that takes up time and effort. (Not an option? Hang tight. More ideas further down.)
Are ungraded papers ruining Sunday? Reassess. Are giving effective feedback? Are you doing more than you need to? Is there a time you can grade at school?
Hang a “Please do not disturb” sign so your friendly colleagues will leave you to it.
Set your timer. Stay focused. Make it a game. How much of your weekend grading can you whittle away? See if you can beat last week’s record.
Progress reports due? Do three at school each day. Make it a non-negotiable task.
Some teachers meet at Starbucks and do their reports together, all hyped up on caffeine.
Make an appointment with your doctor. Experiment with different bedtimes. Drink more water. Start an exercise regime. Drop an exercise regime. Buy a sunlamp. Play around until you find the magic combination.
Get laser-focused on just one of the causes of your Sunday night teacher blues. Then brainstorm a few solutions.
Maybe the first one won’t work. Try another. Don’t give up.
Ask on Facebook and ask for advice. Focus on solving this one small challenge.
Chipping away at one cause of your Sunday night teacher blues won’t create change overnight. But over time, you’ll notice a time-freeing shift.
Try one or two tweaks each week. Be patient. The cumulative change will be greater than if you change everything at once. (And burn out.)
Do it early
Flip the Sunday night teacher blues on its head and make Saturday morning your time to check the more undesirable chores off your list. Make a strong batch of coffee, throw on a favorite podcast or playlist, and get cracking.
Set the timer for ten minutes and see how much you can clean in one room. When the timer goes off, move to the next room.
Your home will look and feel a heck of a lot better. Maybe not perfect, but there’s way too much fun to be had on your weekend to worry about perfect, right?
Same goes for food prep, laundry, or grading. Get that stuff done early so you can enjoy the rest of your weekend, rather than dreading a finish line full of icky tasks.
Get up early on Saturday and do your food shopping for the week. The stores are almost empty, so it will be a much quicker task.
Spread it out
Or you can spread out your chores during the week. Clean just one room per day.
If you have children, it might be the perfect time to teach chores or up their chore-ante and have them do it with you. Make it an irresistible game. Play a favorite song and see how much you and your child can clean the room before the song finishes. (This timer works great too. I use it in my classroom and with my nieces and nephews. Magic.)
If time away from your own kids has you down, plan one small thing you can do with them each afternoon or evening. Read a book together. Work on a puzzle. Go for a walk and hunt pretty leaves or rocks. Make some hot cocoa, go outside and look at the stars.
Schedule something small and doable. Extra points if it’s free.
Making your classroom plans ahead of time is easier after you’ve been teaching for a couple of years. In that first year, especially, most of us educators stay late each night to plan for the next day.
Planning at least a week ahead, however, can do wonders for your peace of mind.
If this unthinkable right now, try planning just one day ahead. Then two. Gradually increase it.
I experienced a huge increase in time when I made Thursday my late-day at work. I got all the homework packets, planning, and copying done for the following week.
The first Thursday was painful. But each week got easier. And soon, it was just a habit. I barely had to think about it.
Plans for Sunday!
Blow a raspberry at the Sunday night teacher blues, and plan something fun to do for the very end of your weekend.
Think about what makes you happy.
Maybe it’s going to a bookstore with a set amount of money and then getting a hot cocoa at a nearby cafe. Or going to catch a movie with the monster bucket of popcorn and a Cherry Coke.
Or maybe meeting friends at the trampoline park is your idea of a fun Sunday night!
Or bowling and then a picnic! (and use the leftovers for lunches)
Meet your girlfriends at the nearest pub. Or go to an art museum. Walk down your city’s fanciest street and window shop or people watch. Go to an indoor water slide park. Or go sledding. Borrow a movie from your public library, order a pizza, and snuggling with your kids in front of the TV. Or go to a tapas bar with your favorite person.
Think about what makes you feel giddy, no matter how silly it might seem to others. Do that.
What’s more, have it planned at least a few days before so you have that delightful little prize awaiting you on Sunday night.
And the bonus? Whatever your planned goody is, chances are there won’t be crowds. Haha! Look at you!
Create Monday fun for your students
Do your students drag their feet on Monday mornings? Of course they do. Mondays are not built to be fun.
But you can change that! Make Monday an exciting day!
Make it the day you open new centers in your classroom. If you get new books for your classroom, display them on Friday afternoon and tell them they will can look at them Monday morning.
Hold Movie Mondays. When students walk in, have something fun playing on the screen. It could be Bugs Bunny. It could be educational. Display kids’ book reviews. Street art (the kids LOVED this one.) Art videos. Animated shorts. It’s an easy way to get kids into the classroom and happy to be there. (Also this one. Dancing robots. dang.)
Games are a fun way to start the week. I started using these States/Capitals/Abbreviations Bump games and my kids LOVE them. They’re quick, easy, and the darned things WORK. They learn these states like nobody’s business.
I’m about to introduce my new Phases of the Moon Bump game and am excited to see their faces when they find these on their desks come Monday morning.
You can make quick word searches and have those at the ready for their Monday morning work. (And if it’s near April Fools, you can try this word search, which will be just as much fun for you! It may be one of my favorite things to do all year…)
Have a lesson prepped for Monday that has you excited. The kind where you can hardly wait for the kids to come into the room because you know how much they will love it.
Perhaps it’s a science experiment. Or a spelling lesson that uses shaving cream or sand on a tray. Something that will make the day fun for YOU too! This kind of energy is contagious. And your kids will gradually associate Monday mornings with fun!
Monday treats for YOU
Not only should the kids have something fun awaiting them — you should too! So often, we treat ourselves on Friday morning to celebrate the end of the week. We stop at Starbucks and get that fancy drink because — hey! — it’s Friday!
But Friday is already awesome. Let yourself have a treat on Monday instead, when you can really use it. 🙂
Is there a homemade doughnut shop you can stop by on your way to work? Maybe you want to light a scented candle when you get to your classroom — one that always puts you in a good mood.
Or you can get your coffee all set to go on Sunday night so all you have to do is push a button when you wake. (And some of those super fancy coffee makers can even be set to start by themselves. (Oh modern day conveniences — you are so splendid!)
You could download an audiobook you’ve been dying to read. Or save the new episode of your favorite podcast for your Monday commute.
Have something delightful awaiting you on Monday morning!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Tell us in the comments below:
- What do you do to chase away the Sunday night teacher blues?
- OR … What strategy above will you try?
Want more good stuff?
Click here and get “8 Ways to Create Lifelong Readers.” Want your kids to love reading? In 8 easy steps, you’ll have a well-loved book haven in your classroom.
Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and click on the green “Follow” star under the store name. You’ll get monthly messages and first dibs on ways to save time in your classroom.
Follow me on social media for daily ideas to get you out the door on time.