Thriving School Psych Thriving Students

Well Hello Summer Break. I've Been Expecting You.

One of the obvious perks of working in a school district is the summers off. And friends, my summer vacay has officially started! It has taken me 10 years of working in a school district to figure out how to relax and recharge over the summer. One would think this would be a no-brainer. I think of it as running 60 miles an hour for 191 days of the year and then hitting a brick wall. It’s not really relaxing, because you have to recover from, well, hitting a wall. It is an art to learn how to relax over the summer.

[Cut to corporate job people and their sneers and sarcastic tiny violins because they only get a few weeks off a year].

Prebuttal to sneering people who don’t understand the summers off situation: Sure, we have summers off, but we also carried the weight of children’s mental health and entire life trajectory in our hands for 10 months. We also did it without sufficient materials, functioning electrical plugs, the fancy “world wide web” access, electronic mail, VOICEMAIL, lunch rooms, fridges free of vermin, box seats to sporting events, and expense accounts. I don’t know, maybe with the recession all you get is the world wide web now, but still. And maybe since I’ve only had a corporate job for one summer, I’m not being fair. But at the same time, you have never been in my shoes, trying to combat the cycle of poverty from a janitor’s closet. So there.

I have totally digressed from my zen speech on how to relax. See how hard it is to shut it off? My summer relaxation project is done in phases. I’m in Phase 1.

Phase 1: The Still at Work Even Though You’re Not at Work Phase. I still think about all my kids, all the testing and reports left undone, all the un-done to-do lists, all the research I should be reading up on, all the ideas for next year, all the therapy games I want to try, all the templates I’d like to update, all the play therapy toys I want to get, etc. I still have residual dreams about IEP meetings and wake up at 7am ready to go to not-work.

Phase 2: The Annoying Phase: I have shed the end-of-school year anxiety and am beginning to relax. I make an unrealistic to-do list of summer tasks that includes items such as 1) Become bilingual, 2) Learn how to reupholster vintage furniture, 3) Write a book, and 4) Train dogs to always do their business in a certain corner of the yard so I can walk barefoot in the grass whenever I want.

When the to-do list gets daunting, I then start pestering people with jobs. Before I got married, it was my roommate. I would call her or IM her with super unimportant thoughts or ideas as they dawned on me. “Hey, Beth, do you think that the couch would look good on the north side of the room?” “Beth, what do you think about the color pea green on me? I mean, my eyes are green, so it could be cool, but should I go with the opposite side of the color wheel, like a purple?” She put a one-call per day quota on me, and I ended up jotting down everything throughout the day, then rattled off my 8 random thoughts to her around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, which would carry me through until she came home for dinner.

Now, husband gets the inane news report, often in video form (thanks, iPhone). I text videos of the dogs to his iPhone, using my very best dog voices to pretend like they are having a conversation about their day. “Hey daddy, guess what I did today? I saw a baby deer and chased it. Then, I took a nap.” Sometimes, husband just gets a picture of the animals in cute sleeping positions. My old roommate, Beth is so happy I got married.

Phase 3: The Relaxed Phase I finally get into an awesome relaxing rhythm that may simulate what it would be like to be a Lady of Leisure Who Lunches. I get up, go to the gym, take animals for a hike, finish a house project or two, knit a little, and write a little. I sip herbal tea and reflect on important issues like whether or not I should go to Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond later. Target wins, because there is a 2 story one near my house. TWO STORIES! Can you believe it?!? I love it so much. Then, I may or may not “do lunch” with someone, and then take my nap before preparing dinner. I am rested, and the first sign of back-to-school signs at Target gets me excited to start all over again.

As I’ve gotten used to the abrupt marathon of the school year ending with a brick finish line, I move through phases 1 and 2 rather quickly now. In fact, I may just be halfway to Phase 3 already.

But my husband is still going to get a picture of the dogs laying on bunk beds, one on the top bunk, and one on the bottom. It’s just cute.

And to my educator friends, may you reach whatever your blissful Phase 3 is right away. You deserve it.

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Comments on Well Hello Summer Break. I've Been Expecting You.

  1. Steve G. says:

    I've never really cared for the people who complain about teacher's getting the summer off. First, where I live, that's only a stretch from about June 15 to Sept. 1, about 75 days or so. This is also assuming they don't take a day or two in the summer to clean / setup classrooms, or to analyze curriculum.

    This is on top of the regular school weeks. I worked just as a sub five days a week for a year, and that was 40 hours a week. I didn't correct any papers, or meet any parents, or any of that assorted work. So, yeah, I imagine when you tally it all up, teachers work as much or a bit more than a typical 9-to-5 worker.

  2. halpey1 says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post and am going to 'pimp' it on my facebook page. 🙂

  3. I absolutely LOVE and relate to your post on so many levels! I hope that you are enjoying summer now, whichever phase you are in. 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    I'm in stage 2, I think. I just made a to-do list that is aobut a page long…will I get through it all? Who knows, but it's nice to have a purpose.

  5. Kathy says:

    EXACTLY! So well put. I've decided I'm moving into stage 3. I'm no longer dreaming about school every night and I've even started thinking that some of the items on the to-do list could wait till Christmas vacation…Spring Break…next summer.

  6. NANCY RUIZ says:

    I HAVE NOT GET TO THE FIRST STAGE OF PHASE 1!!! A few undone reports yet! 🙁 After this week, I'll just jump into PHASE 3!! I was wondering if you became bilingual by your Phase 2! You can practice your Spanish with my page on FB! Just able the Google Toolbar Translator and point with your cursor if you don't understand a word. 😉

  7. luckeyfrog says:

    Today was our last day of summer school, and I don't know what to do with myself. I know I need to go pack up the room, but beyond that… what am I supposed to do for the rest of the summer?

    I did at least start a To Do list so massive that it has since been divided into categorized To Do lists. I'll get to it, eventually.

    Hopefully in the 6 weeks I have left, I can get the To Do list done AND get to Phase 3.

    Also, I don't mind animal pictures. In fact, random thoughts and animal pictures sound like what a lot of people do on Twitter or Tumblr. You might consider it! 🙂

  8. Rebecca says:

    I'm so glad you all commented. I posted this blog and then an hour later thought, "Great, you just admitted you were a total workaholic freak." Phew! 😉

  9. Amity says:

    You are so dead on with these three phases. You have just been added to my Google reader, because I can tell right away I AM GOING TO LIKE YOU.

  10. joycemocha says:

    You're so, so correct.

    From an admiring SPED teacher who's just had her fave school psych cut…sigh.

  11. I so heart this post. I didn't get out of my PJs till 3pm. Did a little bit of blogging and had to make the decision whether to tan or go to best buy.

  12. Rebecca says:

    @Amity: Holla! I love finding kindred spirits on the world wide web.

    @Books That Heal Kids: 3pm–Awesome! Doing a blog post AND an outing is a big day. 😉

  13. Beth says:

    SO happy you got married. But…um…only because I know he makes you happy and that's the only, only reason.

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