Since I wrote my last blog; Seven Reasons It Is Important To Switch Off During the School Holidays, I have had so many teachers say “that’s great, but I just CAN’T switch off”. I’m sure most of us have experienced that feeling of having a few days where we genuinely want to take time off but every time we start doing something we think of a lesson we need to plan. We sit down to watch a film with the kids and end up working on our laptop next to them instead of giving them our full attention.
The problem is, teachers don’t go to work every day, they live and breathe their work every minute of every day. The children in your class become your family for the time they are with you and you desperately want to do your best to give them every opportunity to achieve and thrive in your care.
Asking a teacher not to think about school while they are on holiday is like asking a mother not to think about her children.
It is important to acknowledge that of course you can’t step away from school work for the whole holiday. There will inevitably be planning and marking to do at some point. Personally, I would recommend taking a few days at the start of the holiday to get all your work done. Plan your time carefully and be really focused. Use the rest of the break as a reward.
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So how can we really switch off and unwind during the precious school holidays?
- Plan a trip away – If possible, plan a holiday. If you are away from home you will find it easier to switch off. Even if it is just a mini break or a few days in this country being in a new environment removes all those visual and habitual triggers which remind you of school.
- Arrange some days out – If you can’t manage a holiday plan some days out with friends or family. Go for a walk. Visit somewhere you have always wanted to go.
- Book yourself onto a workshop – Remind yourself that you like doing things away from school work by booking yourself onto a workshop. Whether it is bread making or needle felting, learning a new skill and meeting people outside the profession will be a welcome break and because you will be learning something new it will keep your busy brain engaged.
- Get yourself a colouring book – Let’s be honest most of us love all the cutting out, colouring in and making that goes into teaching. Why not treat yourself to a grown up colouring book and let yourself play? Research has shown colouring to be the next best thing to meditation, which can be a challenge for a busy headed person, so grab your colouring pencils and have fun!
- Start a project at home – It may not seem like a rest, but something like redecorating a room or renovating a piece of furniture, is a great way to switch off a busy brain. It has the added bonus of being something useful which gives you a real sense of achievement at the end of it too.
- Read a book – How many times do we encourage our children to read a book to help them relax and escape? How often do we manage it ourselves? I have had so many friends who have got to retirement age and when I have asked them what they are looking forward to and how they will spend their time, the one thing they have said is; “I’m going to read a book, for fun!”. Don’t wait for your retirement! Do it now. Escape into a fantasy world or travel through a faraway country. Nothing fuels your imagination better than reading a good book. Grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy!
- Try a tried and tested relaxation technique – Whether you fancy meditation, yoga or just want a massage the holidays are the perfect time to start a new self care practice. If you fancy trying meditation why not start with one of my guided meditations. They are perfect for beginners and can even be done with your children. There are some to try here. If yoga appeals there are some wonderful YouTube channels to help you take up a daily yoga practice. All you need is a yoga mat and you can even do it in your pyjamas. Try Yoga with Adriene, she is very approachable and there is no pressure to do anything. (I am not an affiliate, I only recommend things I use and find helpful myself). I have been doing her 30 Day Yoga Challenge every morning before the school run for about 6 weeks now and I feel so much better. I start the day feeling calm and centred and my body is getting more flexible and stronger. It means getting up half an hour earlier but it is genuinely worth every minute. If neither of these appeal, why not just book yourself a massage and commit to having a massage every week/two weeks/month, whatever you feel would benefit you.
So here are my favourite ways to switch off from work. You might be thinking; “But Kate, you’re not a teacher anymore, why do you need to switch off?” well, believe it or not, running my own business is just as mentally consuming and hard to switch off from as teaching. Just to demonstrate that I’m sitting on my sofa writing this while my 7 year old son pesters me for lunch and wanting to know what we are doing this afternoon! So, I’m going to go make his lunch and then this afternoon I will be switching off by baking some cakes with him. Practicing what I preach!
Whatever you are doing today, take a deep breath, relax and appreciate everything you have.