Happy Teacher Series: How Happy Teachers Spend Their Time Off

How happy teachers spend their time off might surprise you! Are you making the most of your vacations?
As teachers we know that we work more hours during the time we are in school than most other professions. We also work when we are not in school, particularly over the summer by attending professional development opportunities, prepping for the school year, and planning with our colleagues. While these are all great ways to stay on top of our teaching game, they are not always the best for our mental health. 

When you think about time off I want you to think about all the time you are away from school. This means that evenings, weekends, breaks during the year, and summer vacation are all a part of time off. When you shift your thinking from just vacations to all of this time, it is easier to make some choices on how to spend your time.

The truth of the matter is that there are a few distinct ways that happy teachers spend their time away from school that seem to make a big difference, and they aren't a stretch either!

Happy Teachers Make Time for Family

Do you find yourself still at school late into the evening when your own children or family are at home carrying on with their lives? While it is bound to happen from time to time don't let this become the norm. Prioritize your family, because they should come first. 

I chose one day a week that I would stay late and take care of everything that needed to happen. My family knew that Thursdays I would be home later, and we tried not to plan anything for that day. The reason I chose Thursdays is that it was also the day most likely to have after school events such as family nights or PTA meetings. This way I didn't have to rearrange my schedule when those events occurred. Some Thursdays I would still be at school way after the sun when down, but most of the time I was able to get out the door just a bit later than I would normally leave. 

By choosing one day and committing to taking care of business on that day I was able to spend more time at home without the worries of when things would get done at school. 

Spending time with your family, and friends, is like hitting the recharge button on life. Getting together, laughing, and enjoying yourself is the best way to reground your life. While it might be hard to step away from something you could be doing for school, you will never regret it. 

Happy Teachers Have a Hobby

Do you ever find yourself with some time off and don't know what to do with yourself? While it happens to everyone, if you have a hobby to fall back on you can feel like your time is more meaningful. Hobbies also give you a chance to look forward to something when you aren't working. 

My personal hobbies include reading, quilting, racing cars, and napping while Netflix plays in the background. All of these hobbies require a time commitment, but some more than others. There is nothing I love more than a day when I can feel a sense of accomplishment from doing something that I want to do. A rainy day of quilting and reading all day? Yes, please! 

It is important for us to remember that before we are teachers we are people, and people need to enjoy themselves. On top of this, when you take the time to do what you like it leaves you more refreshed to re-enter the classroom when the time comes. 

How happy teachers spend their time off might surprise you! Are you making the most of your vacations?Happy Teachers Know When to Unplug

These days we are all so connected at every moment of every day. Between laptops, tablets, cell phones, and everything else we are almost always reachable, and that can be a good thing or bad. When I really want to relax I turn it all off. I put my phone in do not disturb, I turn off the TV, I have even been known to unplug the wireless router to remove all temptation. 

By unplugging I am able to get back to my roots. I read a book, go outside, play with my dog, and just be me. Screen time can be a dangerous thing when we are already overwhelming by life, so while it has its place, it feels amazing to turn it off. 

Lately I have been trying to turn off all screens for two hours before bedtime and I have never slept better! 

Happy Teachers Know When to Rest

When you are a teacher there is always something that can be done, but the happiest teachers know when to stop and rest. This might mean saying that enough has been done that day so you go home and take a nap. It could also mean making sure that you go to bed before that last load of laundry is folded or choosing to sleep in on a Sunday when you could be up and cutting out laminate. 

I know it is popular to utter the words, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," but why? Why would you do that to yourself? When your body is properly rested you are able to be a better you. Your thoughts are clearer, you can make better choices, and you are better to be around. Our bodies need rest. Now this doesn't mean that there won't be times when you are totally exhausted, because there will, but you can choose to limit them. 

Happy Teachers Know How to Work Hard and Play Harder

Teaching is hard work, and we work year round to make sure that our students are getting our absolute best. This means too that when we have the time off we should do something fun. I don't mean sit and read all day fun, even though that is dreamy, but really cut loose and party it out a bit. 

This is going to look different for each person, because while I think a backyard potluck with friends who all bring their dogs is an idea for a great night others are going to think more about a night out on the town or skydiving. The key is to make it something you want to do, and have maybe been putting off. 

Happy Teachers Know When to Think About Work

Up until now I have been talking about turning your school brain off and focusing on  your life outside of school, but the truth is the happiest teachers don't ignore school during time off. When you think about the tasks that need to be done and how you can get them done in the most efficient way, sometimes this means doing them in your time off. 

For example, the summer is the longest period of time in which we have few commitments to school. This is the time in which I would print, color, laminate, cut, and put together math stations or things of this sort. Doing this during the school year would totally stress me out, but doing it during the summer while binge watching my favorite Netflix shows is just something to keep my hands busy. 

Along the same lines, I am a sucker for a great professional development session. Even more, I am a sucker for a girls trip. Why not get a couple of teacher friends together, choose a fun destination with a great PD opportunity, go in on a hotel room together, and make a trip out of it? I am not talking flying across the country, although you could, but driving a couple of hours to get a little space and check out another city with your friends. This can also be a great relationship building experience with coworkers! 

Do What Makes You Happy!

In the end, I could tell you what makes me and many other teachers happy, but you have to decide for yourself what works. The important thing to remember is that how you spend you time off should be fulfilling, restful, and leave you feeling ready to conquer your classroom!

For more ideas on how to be a happier teacher check out
11 Things Happy Teachers Don't Do

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