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How Take a Vacation … Even When You Are a Teacher

How to Take a Vacation Even As a Teacher

Let’s face it.  We all love a good break.  But, do we really know how to take a vacation?  Or, inevitably do we end up in the office/studio/couch getting work done instead of taking a real break?

Getting Ready For Vacation

Please tell me if this sounds familiar.

Scrambling the last weeks, days & minutes before vacation to get everything done.  Only to find a few days later there is something that has popped up that “has” to be taken care of.

I’ll admit that this year the hours are longer going into Christmas vacation.  The to-do list is long.  The possible tasks that “should” be done isn’t getting any shorter.  And, wouldn’t you know that I’ve started to dream about resources for students after the break?  WHY!  I don’t have time to do anything about the ideas right now!

Do you find yourself rushing to get “everything” done before Vacation (with a capital V) starts?  And, do you find that the list seems to grow rather than shrink?

Vacation: The goal

Thankfully, my husband reminds me this is completely normal.  The chances of a million ideas going through my brain at all times are pretty high.  And, this is certainly not the first time I’ve dreamt about teaching.  Nor will it be the last.

So, why the rush this week?  Because I am working towards a goal.  No work over the break.  Unless I get a great idea & want to follow the rabbit hole for fun.  Or, I want to get a jump start on a fun composing project.  In which case, is it actually work?

What is your goal?

If your goal is to take a vacation … a real break, then you need to be specific about what needs to be done & what are nice-to-get-done tasks.

You only have so much time & energy.  And, you deserve to have time off to recharge.

The ideal vacation

We all have an ideal vacation.  Maybe it’s being active outdoors, family activities or binge-watching your favourite streaming service.

What does the ideal vacation look like for you?  What will you do (or not do)?

For me, my ideal vacation is:

  • Sleeping in,
  • A lazier start to the day,
  • Spending time with my family,
  • Lots of tea, books, video games & other games,
  • Spending time on my own (I’m still very much an introvert),
  • Freedom to follow the rabbit hole of new ideas … if I want.

See, I know myself.  Those dreams about teaching aren’t going to miraculously go away because I’m on vacation.  Oh, no.  Those ideas are going to hit full force after a few day’s break.  And, that means giving myself the freedom to geek out, be creative, or get lost in research … at least for a little bit.

How to take a vacation

There are a few key steps necessary to take a vacation.

1. Edit your to-do list ruthlessly.

There is no way to get “everything” done when new ideas or tasks come up each day.  Only do what has to happen.  And, let go of the rest.  Be ruthless as you decide what is a need & what is a want.

2. Give everyone a vacation.

I know many teachers are thinking about how to keep students playing over the holidays.  And, I have as well.

Remember that everyone wants a vacation.  A challenge may not be the right decision for already tired families.  Yes, it’s great to get students playing every day.  Yes, it’s great they learn songs on their own.  A Zoom concert for family members would be fantastic.

Is this what your students & their families are needing right now?

Instead of a challenge, I’ve told my students & their parents that I love getting pictures & videos from them.  Whether it’s a first snowboarding session, playing a song they learnt through a YouTube tutorial, an original song, or “just” a picture of my students smiling, I have loved getting each text or email.  

3. Focus on relationships

You are more than “just” someone who teaches kids music.  You have a relationship with each family that goes beyond lessons (I hope). 

Keeping that relationship strong over the holidays is more important than any musical progress your student can make.

Relationships are what keep students in your studio.  Not the spreadsheet of carefully sequenced musical concepts mastered.  There is a caveat here.  If students don’t make progress at all, chances are they won’t stay no matter how much they love lessons.  But, vacation time is not the time to worry about that progress.

We also need relationships outside of our studio.  Vacation is the perfect time to spend a bit of extra time with those people.  Whether it is a family game night, a Zoom call to share dessert with family/friends while social distancing or texting/calling a friend, these relationships are important.  They keep us grounded & open to new ideas.

4.  Remember the world won’t end.

As much as I would like to believe that my students will notice if I don’t create everything from scratch, the reality is they don’t notice.  They notice if they are having fun & learning.  Not necessarily what form that fun & learning takes.

Even with ruthlessly editing your to-do list, there is a chance at least 1 or 2 items won’t get done.  That’s okay.  The world won’t end.

What happens if you don’t create that from-scratch new activity for your students?  Can you purchase a version of it?  Can you simplify the activity so it takes less time to prepare?

I’ve had to do this many times over the years.  My ideas can sometimes get a life of their own & quickly spiral out of control.  And, yes my husband & mom need to tell me the world won’t end if I simplify or (gasp) don’t do the activity at all.  As much as I like to be right all the time … in this, they are always right.  They’re quite wise, aren’t they?

Keep in mind your ideal vacation.  And, don’t let some items on the to-do list steamroll over it!

5.  Give yourself time.

Time is the one thing that we can’t get back.  Vacation time is even more fleeting, so set aside time for yourself.

Maybe you’re like me & need time to geek out, be creative, or get lost in research.  Or, maybe you need time to step away from everything for a bit.

What you need this vacation may not be what you needed your last vacation.  Make time for what you need right now, whether that is time with others or by yourself.

The secret of how to take a vacation is to make time for what is truly important to you.

Take a Vacation

As we head into the break, use these 5 steps to ensure you take a vacation.  A real vacation filled with what you want to do.  This is the best thing you can do to combat burnout, get inspired, & make a difference in the lives of our studio families!

In the comments, let me know which step resonated most for you!

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