Keeping your Balance

10 ways to include both preparation and relaxation during summer break

By Mary Lou Rosien

Oh, those lazy days of summer … but maybe not? For teachers, summertime can be a constant battle between truly needing some down time with family and friends, and the lightning speed approach of the new school year. It seems that we have just thrown on our flip-flops when the stores start advertising their back-to-school sales, reminding us that this bliss will be short-lived.

Summertime can also provide additional financial concerns as we often pay for supplies for our classrooms during the same months we may be without a paycheck (depending on our payment arrangements), while also spending money on vacation and filling the school-supply lists of our own children.

Finding balance while we relax and yet prepare can be challenging. A few simple reminders may help us stay on track.

1/ Keep a summer schedule and try to include daily prayer into it. Prioritizing is always important and putting prayer high on that list will help us in all the other areas. Try going to a daily Mass or sitting with your coffee and reading Scripture. Maybe you could pray a quiet Rosary during those (very long) summer baseball games that your kids take part in.

2/ Make use of your calendar. Just because the months seem stretched out and easy as school lets out, don’t ignore the free time that effective time management will afford you. Without a plan, time could slip by and you may be wondering why so many things were left undone. Putting your to-do list on a calendar will help you stay on track and free up time. Keeping track of upcoming expenses on your calendar can help with financial management as well.

3/ Reward yourself! If you must spend a day shopping for your classroom, then spend the next two days relaxing by the pool.

4/ Give yourself a real vacation. Resist the urge to work all summer long. If you are tutoring, preparing for the school year, or employed in another way during the summer months, still plan a solid one- to two-week vacation. This time off is necessary for well-being and will help you be effective when you do work.

“Summer is a great time to re-energize, to relax, and to enjoy time with our families, Within those experiences, our enthusiasm grows for the upcoming school year as we map our curriculum, create lessons plans, and look forward to the new experiences that each year brings.” – Mrs. Martha Grant, Educational Technology Coordinator, Holy Cross School, Rochester, New York

5/ Communicate plans, ideas and hopes with your family. Our family begins each summer with a group text of important dates and obligations so that everyone is on the same page. We also having a planning meeting in January about what we would like to do in July. Everyone contributes ideas and we start figuring out then how we will spend our vacation. Great preparation means a successful vacation.

6/ Reuse and recycle. Have a few days for planning your school year set aside early. Look at what ideas and materials worked last year and what you can reuse. Consider setting up a swap with other teachers who need fresh resources or are changing grades or subjects. This helps everyone to save money. I once put out an SOS on social media for posters for my classroom and had an abundance within a few days!

7/ Decide what success will look like for you in the coming school year and at home. Too often we trudge through our lives without doing an assessment of what we would like an optimum work/home situation to look like. It is helpful to form concrete goals and measures for the next year. My husband and I like to do this with our marriage. Once or twice a year, we sit down and discuss our goals and plans for our marriage, home (including things like remodel plans etc.), family life (vacations, helping kids with their goals) and financial goals. It is helpful to do this for our school year as well.

8/ Say No. Sometimes we find it hard to admit we don’t have time to do everything and do it well. Choosing the things that are most important to us is not selfish, it is self-preserving.

“Think about your summer days as an exercise class that lasts all day long. It starts by fueling up, stretching, and getting your mind active. After you take a walk, maybe that’s when you can do a little cool down with a short period of a video game. Lunch time, you refuel and really get going. Explore outside or bike. If it’s rainy, do an interactive video. After dinner, it’s your slow cool down period. Read a book in a new style before going to sleep. Summer is great because you can choose new and different things on your own or challenge yourself on things that you want to do better. Plus, you can do it it inside, outside, sitting or standing! It’s your choice!” – Kathy Broderick, Technology, Music, Library teacher; All Saints Academy, Corning, New York

9/ Say Yes! There is a line in a song that I like, “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Break out of your comfort zone and say yes to something unexpected. The results of challenging yourself may be finding a whole new perspective or a love for something new.

10/ Have fun. Just do it. Enjoy your time off without guilt or concern. We cannot be effective in our professional life if we do not maintain a healthy balance in our personal one. Happy Summer!

Image credit: Shutterstock 736538449

Image credit: Shutterstock 736538449

Mary Lou Rosien is a former English teacher and current substitute teacher, Confirmation teacher, Pre-Cana instructor, and RCIA coordinator/teacher.

Image credit: Shutterstock 736538449

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