Self Care for Teachers this Summer

Summertime, and the living is easy….

Wouldn’t it be nice if that were actually true? While summer is definitely one of my favorite times of year, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easy living all the time. As a teacher, I usually spend my summer planning, shopping, and getting organized for next school year. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that!

That’s just part of what comes with being a teacher, I guess! We have summers “off,” but are we ever really off? I’m going to go with no. We are always on, all the time, thinking about next year or worrying about that one student or dreaming (or nightmare-ing) about the first day of school.

Well friends, I’m here to tell you that THAT’S OKAY. It’s totally fine for you to plan ahead and use some of your spare time to get ready for next school year! In fact, I think it’s really wise. When are you ever going to have more time than over the summer? You aren’t.

And personally, I like planning for the next school year. It is my own form of teacher self care. It saves my sanity later in the year, and I enjoy creating resources and organizing so of course I want to spend some of my summer doing that.

But, I’m also here to remind you that it’s JUST as important to take care of yourself! You worked super freaking hard over the last nine months, so make sure you balance the planning for next year with a little R&R. And don’t feel guilty about it, either – you earned it!

I know sometimes it’s hard for teachers to think of ways to pamper themselves after giving so much all year long. It seems selfish, right? I got you, girl (or guy, everyone is welcome here). I’ve compiled a little summer bucket list here for you which includes some self care strategies for teachers. Your mission is to complete this entire list this summer! (But only if you really want to, this is about self care after all).

But first – if you aren’t convinced, a little reminder about why self care for teachers is important.

Why is self care important for teachers?

Ever heard of teacher burnout? Ever experienced it? Yeah, we’ve all been there. It comes from having a job that is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. Teachers have a lot on their plates – lesson planning, copies, grading, staff meetings, IEP meetings, behavior plans, communicating with parents, 100+ hours of professional development, committees, after school events, lunch/recess/dismissal duty, conferences, and oh yeah, teaching.

Teachers also wear a lot of hats. On any given day I feel as though not only am I playing the role of teacher, but also nurse, counselor, mom, coach, referee, and probably a few other jobs I definitely didn’t sign up for.

Oh yeah, and we’re expected to do all of these things in about 8 hours each day. While managing and loving on 20+ children, some of whom come from heartbreaking backgrounds and all of whom have unique individual needs that are ALL expected to be met.

This is not an easy job. In fact, I haven’t done all the jobs in the world, but I would say it’s a pretty safe bet that teaching is one of the hardest jobs. And when you give and give so much of yourself every single day for 9 months out of the year, it takes a lot out of you.

And that’s the importance of self care for teachers. Because you are important, too, and like those kids, you deserve to be taken care of.

Summer Self Care Bucket List

Here are some ideas to get you started on your self care mission this summer. Certainly this list can be expanded on, but it also isn’t meant to be a to-do list! If something on this list isn’t relaxing to you – don’t do it, plain and simple. These are just some ideas to get you started, but it is 100% a living, breathing document that can (and should) be modified to fit each person’s individual needs (hey, something else we do all the time as teachers).

  • Take a bath. Add in bubble bath, or bath salts, or a bath bomb for extra relaxation power.
  • Get a mani/pedi. Bring a girlfriend or two, or bring your husband! Guys can totally enjoy the nail salon, too. (My husband does!)
  • Get a massage. Pricy, but worth it.
  • Read a book, or two, or ten. And not just the PD book you were assigned for the summer.
  • Go on a trip – either a long vacation or just a day trip to a neighboring town. The point is to just get away from it all!
  • Sleep in. I know you don’t want to get too far out of your routine, but even an extra hour a day adds up! Or choose one day a week to turn the alarm off and just see what happens.
  • Take naps! Don’t feel guilty if you need to stop whatever you’re doing and just take a nap. You have that freedom this summer.
  • Lay out by the pool. If tanning isn’t your thing, then maybe lay under a nice shady tree instead.
  • Binge-watch a show on Netflix. Or all those cheesy romantic Netflix original movies. I won’t judge. (In fact, I’ll bring the popcorn!)
  • Take up a hobby. Whatever it is you like to do for fun – sewing, crafts, cooking, gardening – set aside a little bit of time each week to work on that! As Marie Kondo would say, do things that “spark joy!”

Again, this is just a beginning list of self care tips for teachers. Please take it and make it your own! Just promise me one thing – that you’ll take some time this summer and take care of you. Hopefully it will re-energize you and trust me, you’ll need that energy come August!

What is your favorite way to take care of yourself?

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