Why Sunday evenings aren't relaxing for teachers

As a teacher, you just want to enjoy the final precious hours of the weekend – but thoughts about school won't go away

Louise Lewis

Teacher wellbeing: Why teachers struggle to relax on Sunday evenings

We are all familiar with this feeling. You’ve waved goodbye to colleagues and students on a Friday evening, filled with the anticipated joy of the weekend ahead.

The walks, the visits, the box-set marathons: they all lay before you, with the glimmering prospect of the yellow brick road. Along with those “few jobs” that you’ve taken home, “because there’ll be plenty of time”. 

Except, like some kind of time warp, the hours over the weekend don’t seem to have the same 60 minutes that the rest of week has.

Friday night rolls into Saturday. And then – boom – it’s Sunday evening, and that sinking feeling sets in. 

The four stages of a teacher's Sunday night

The school jobs have stayed firmly in the car boot, and you are kicking yourself because doing them was going to be the thing that saved your skin next week.

It’s a busy week next week, too: you have an after-school meeting on Monday, Tuesday is your lunchtime club, Wednesday is duty day and you don’t have any PPA until Thursday.

And all of this is running through your mind in a split second at 8.30pm on Sunday evening.

So, you put the kettle on, fix yourself a brew (decaf, of course) and toddle up to bed to settle down. 

Stage one: Catching up on an episode of your favourite TV programme 

So, you settle down and your Sunday evening relaxation seems to be going well. You’re fully engaged in the fictional lives of the characters in the programme and which one is the latest to have an affair. 

Except…did you make sure to report that fault on the photocopier on Friday? Yes, you did. You told Jane in the office. 

Phew, thank goodness. Everyone can do their resources in the morning. 

Stage two: Reading a few chapters of your book 

After watching TV for a while, you're now deeply engrossed in the plotline of your book, desperate to find out whodunnit. But…when will you mark that pile of assessments

If you do them after the meeting tomorrow, then you can work on the feedback on Tuesday after school, and give them back to Year 10 on Wednesday. Good plan. 

Stage three: Staring at your phone for a while

Picking up your phone, you can reply to those messages from your sister and best friend, arrange to see them next weekend (after running out of time this weekend) and check up on social media

Turns out there’s been another spat on Twitter: no one agrees and everyone is outraged.

But now you’re wondering how you should approach that lesson on Tuesday. Is what you’ve planned OK, or will you need to change it? 

You can look over the planning first thing in the morning. There’s always time to amend it if you’ve changed your mind. Yes, do that. 

Stage four: Background music, set to a timer

It’s past dark, and the lights are off. You mean business: you are going to sleep now. REALLY. 

You put on your relaxation playlist, and its soothing sounds wash over you, as you can feel your tired body melt into the freshly washed sheets (check – got the washing done this weekend. Kudos) Glorious… 

Oh, you’ve got to drop the car off on the way into school in the morning. That’s OK: you can just get up 15 minutes earlier. Just change the alarm now. Done. 

Slowly drifting off to sleep, wrapped in the warmth of accomplishment and promise for the week ahead. 

Rudely awoken by the scream of the alarm. Hit snooze.

Those Sunday nights are filled with woe for many of us. But, if it’s more than processing the challenges of the week ahead – if it’s stealing away your wellbeing – find a friend, a colleague, a relative or a support line to help you share that burden. 

Louise Lewis is a research lead and deputy head of science in a Yorkshire secondary school. She tweets @MissLLewis

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Louise Lewis

Louise Lewis is a research lead and deputy head of science in a Yorkshire secondary school. She tweets @MissLLewis

Find me on Twitter @MissLLewis

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