I’ve been a teacher for five years, and I’m finally done turning my summer break into something far from relaxing.

With my job, I know I’ll have two months off when the school year ends, so I used to try to make the most of it by cramming my calendar with projects and errands.

Summer was for tasks and DIYs I was too drained to do on weeknights and weekends during the year since teaching took up so much energy.

It was for appointments that must take place during business hours, ones I felt too guilty to take time off of work for. After all, most full-time workers don’t get a guaranteed two months off like me.

But by the time summer hit, I’d be stuck with a massive to-do list — and it’s not like the season started as an endless empty calendar.

During this time off, many teachers must complete several days of professional development, and most of us spend a lot of time preparing our classrooms and planning for the next school year.

Some teachers don’t have summers off at all. According to a recent survey conducted by We Are Teachers, 49% of teachers in the US work a second job during summer break. Many of us are also parents who take on our family’s primary childcare duties, too.

Although I love spending extra time with my son, I’m basically switching from working mom to stay-at-home parent every summer, and it doesn’t exactly feel like a break.

This year, I’ve had enough. I really need the summer to recuperate from teaching — and I don’t want to feel guilty about it.

Adjusting the way I spend my summer means changing how I use my time all year

I feel immense pressure to show up as my best self for my students every day. But to do that, I have to take care of other parts of my life during the school year and actually rest during summer break.

I’m done pushing my basic needs and self-care management to only two months out of the year.

Maybe if I care for myself during the school year better I’ll burn out less often — after all, some data suggests K to 12 teachers have the highest burnout rates in the US.

There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to take advantage of vacation days, weeknights, and weekends like folks who work through the year without summers off.

Moving forward, I’ll try not to feel guilty for using PTO during school hours for the occasional doctor’s appointment. I’m going to push myself to run errands after work and complete small home projects on weekends here and there, too.

Maybe I’ll even outsource some chores, like preparing dinner, or ask my husband to pitch in more when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

A large part of why I chose to be a teacher was so I’d have the same time off as my son while he’s school-age. I want to make the most of my summer by spending quality time with him.

I’ve prioritized my to-do list so I can take time to rest

Although I still feel I should use my break wisely, I’m shifting my perspective on what it means for my time to be well-spent.

This year, I reevaluated my summer to-do list and determined what would be most helpful to accomplish and which things don’t really need to happen.

For example, organizing my desk at home is an important task that will help my school year run more smoothly. But I don’t need to paint every bathroom in my house this summer just because I’m craving pops of color.

As I’ve let myself take these kinds of home projects off of the summer list, I can breathe a little bit easier. Plus, I’ve caught myself enjoying the planning process much more.

Looking for design ideas in books and online has been exciting — and far more relaxing than tackling a DIY project in between errands I waited months to run.



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