Summer break is essential for teachers
How do you unwind after school is out? Do you collapse into a pile of “teacher goo” like I used to? It’s not pretty, trust me, I know the feeling well. I laugh when people give me the typical “Oh it must be nice to have the summers off.” Sorry no, I don’t think its nice, I think it’s necessary! Teaching is a high stress, high stakes job. Kids depend on you all day, every day. While there is joy in what you do, it is very draining.
Summer break is vital to maintain teacher health. It’s even more important for teachers in year-round schools where time off is broken into smaller chunks of time. With a smaller window to work with these teachers really need to focus in on getting the most benefit out of their breaks whenever they occur. I love this quote from Jennifer Louden who wrote the Woman’s Comfort Book: A Self-Nurturing Guide for Restoring Balance in Your Life
Be intentional about doing nothing
This. Is. So. Important. Doing nothing when you just can’t find the motivation or energy is actually very draining. You are constantly thinking about what you “should” be doing and that guilt zaps any remaining energy. The result is that you’ve done nothing all day and you feel drained of energy instead of rested or rejuvenated. Now you feel even less like doing anything. So, how do you break this vicious cycle? Give yourself permission to do nothing and be intentional about it! Here are 5 steps to help you get the most benefit out of your summer break.
1. Pick your time
Pick a time when you can truly be free of responsibilities. Decide how much time you need to regroup. I usually do this at the start of summer break but maybe you need to take care of some things at home before you can enjoy some downtime. This doesn’t have to be a long stretch of time. Maybe you have kids to take care of and can’t set aside a whole week. That’s alright, carve out a few hours here and there. Whatever the case, schedule this time. Write it in your planner or put it on the calendar. Make it official.
2. Prepare for your downtime
Decide if you need to be alone during this time. I am an introvert and being around people can be very draining. I need a lot of alone time to feel grounded and like myself. But maybe you are an extrovert that would find being alone more stressful. Whichever the case, let the people in your life know your plans so they can help you stick to the plan.
If you have a spouse that works and you have little kids you may need to get a babysitter or send them to Nana’s house. I used to put my oldest daughter in charge of her brothers and instruct them to interrupt me only if there was blood. *kidding!… kinda* You can make it fun for them too by taking them to the grocery store to buy meals and snacks that they can prepare for themselves.
Take care of any tasks that need to be done during that time and do it ahead of time. Do a “brain dump.” Get all those ideas, thoughts, tasks, etc. out of your head and onto paper so that you are not expending energy trying to remember them.
3. Find and prepare your space
To make the most of your down time you’ve got to find and prepare your space. Bedroom? Living room? Quiet hotel? Backyard? Doesn’t really matter as long as it is where you want to be. Next you need to prepare your space. Personally, I can’t relax in a messy room so first and foremost, I make sure my space is neat and tidy. Hide unfinished projects so they aren’t staring at you, do the laundry so you don’t feel guily, etc. Then gather any supplies you may need for your activities. You may need movies for binging, books to read, magazines to go through, yarn for a crochet project, or pens and a journal for writing. If you like music, create a playlist to help you unwind. Whatever it is you plan to do, have all of your supplies handy.
4. Put all electronics in airplane mode
I know that a lot of people unwind with their electronics. It may be that you read books on your tablet or play games on your phone. Some people like to scroll through Pinterest. (Although, if you tend to look at school related things on Pinterest, you may want to steer clear!) This is great however, I do suggest that you put them in airplane mode or “do not disturb” mode so that no calls or emails can come through and ruin your day. Also, If being in front of your computer feels like work, don’t touch it!
5. Do “nothing”
When I say “do nothing”, I mean do nothing that will stress your mind. Do nothing that will remind you of working. Do nothing that zaps your energy. Do nothing that doesn’t bring you joy. This will look different for everyone. Maybe doing nothing includes PJ’s all day and no make-up. It could mean you skip your workout. Perhaps it means extending your workout. It could mean you make no meals, or that you actually cook all meals. You might be in bed all day or on a hike in the woods. You might be alone or with your family. Doing something creative always makes me feel less stressed. So I might sew some curtains or knit a blanket. I might spend quality time with my bullet journal. The questions to ask yourself are:
1. Does this help me relax and reduce my stress?
2. Does this make me happy and leave me energized?
If the answer is no to any of the above, steer clear of that activity during your break. Do what makes YOU feel good! That is the point.
Do this several times during your summer break and even during the school year. Stress can sneak up on you and you are not doing your best work when you are in this state. And don’t let guilt stop you from taking care of yourself! Remember, you are doing one of the most important jobs in the world. You need to keep yourself healthy so you can keep doing that job for many years to come.
Enjoy “doing nothing” this summer break!
*please note that this post contains affiliate links which means that I earn money if you purchase through the link. I only ever post links to products that I have personally used and found helpful.
Norma Street says
Pinterest recommended you, and I’m just getting started in your blog. Wow, you’ve gained a lot of wisdom from your years of teaching. From the photo, it looks like a Bible is in your stack of books. Are you a Christian?
By way of introduction, I have taught science for 30+ years, and am a Christian. If you’re ever in the Atlanta area, I’d enjoy spending some time with you.
Enjoy this season of restoration. I hope it will be very beneficial for you.
Happy New Year!