There is nothing quite like looking at the clock on a Sunday evening at 8:00 and realizing you have not planned a single thing for the teaching week ahead. Am I right? Monday mornings are crazy in the teaching world for a huge number of reasons, and as I’m on my way to work I constantly find myself asking a million questions in my head: Did I grade all of the papers I brought home this weekend? Did I remember to put my plan book in my bag? What in the world am I going to tell my students to do first thing when they walk in this morning?!
To ease this Monday morning anxiety, I have developed a Sunday routine that I do my best to stick to every single week. When I go through my routine before I go to bed on Sunday night, I feel so much more ready and excited for the week. So, what exactly do I do when I’m feeling the Sunday scaries to avoid having them pour over into Monday morning?
1. Talk through my Monday teaching plan
At some point on Sundays, I verbally walk myself through the lessons I will teach the following day. It is important to have a solid plan going into every day, but walking into your classroom on a Monday morning is always a little extra stressful. Therefore, I talk to myself on Sundays and I feel extra prepared! I verbally list what I will be doing during each teaching period of the day, and the specific teaching points that will be important to hit during each of these periods. This always helps remind me if I need to print any materials or pull out any specific books from the shelf. I usually do this while I’m folding laundry or cleaning my kitchen.
2. Create my homework sheet for the week
One of my favorite routines that I have established with my class is that they are given a homework sheet every Monday that lists all of the homework assignments for the week. This helps keep me on track as well as eliminates the stress of figuring out what to give for homework each night. I never make it overly specific, so I can always make changes if needed, but this weekly layout can help students see if there will be lighter or heavier homework one night of the week so they can plan accordingly. I look at my plan book for the week to determine what kind of homework each day should have. I also have the parents initial next to each day. I do this at some point over the weekend, not necessarily Sunday, but having it done before Monday morning takes away so much stress.
3. Organize food for the week
The thought of eating the exact same thing for lunch 5 days in a row makes me groan, which is why I used to resist meal prepping. But, having my food organized in a way that makes it easy for me to grab things right out of the fridge for the week has been a lifesaver for me. I’m the queen of making a large amount or something and freezing half. I almost always freeze half of whatever I make. The leftovers make the next Sunday’s food prep so much easier! I am obsessed with rotisserie chickens, because it is such a large amount of food that contains such little effort that can be used so many ways, so I use this as a base for salads, soups, or just plain old chicken and veggies. I also love making ground turkey, which I’ll usually cook half of it with taco seasoning and half with tomato sauce to provide a variety throughout the week. I always have snacks like yogurt, apple sauce, and nuts to throw in my bag too.
4. Plan outfits for the week
I am one of those people who plans my outfits for the whole week. While the weather forecast for the week on a Sunday night is sure to change by the time you get to Thursday, it is nice to have a base idea of what I will wear each day. Adjustments can always be made. If I know I have a particular meeting or observation that week, I like having my outfit planned out in advance because it is just 1 less thing to worry about!
5. Pre-bedtime sacred hour
I have created this rule for myself: no work for 1 hour before bed. Falling asleep in the middle of lesson planning or answering work-related emails right before setting my morning alarm truly affects the way I sleep. On Sunday nights, I prefer to be in bed around 9:30 and give myself some time to read a book or listen to a podcast. By 10:00, my lights are completely out. Therefore, if I am doing something work-related, my cutoff is 9:00 p.m. This has helped my sleep quality and ability to stay asleep all night, which is so crucial for me since I wake up so early in the morning.
But… what if I’m out of town all weekend? What if I have a whole Sunday planned with friends from college? I try to realize this lack of planning time in advance and act accordingly. If I know I’m going to be out of town, I’ll go to the grocery store and load up on pre-made salads or things that can easily be thrown into my lunch box when I’m in a half-awake daze on Monday morning. It’s all about balance and knowing yourself and how you react when your routine is thrown off. Nothing is ever always perfect!