Gotta love that scene in Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Roberts' character is sitting on the floor in comfy (yet attractive) sleepwear, reading the paper, sipping fresh coffee out of china cup, slowly eating yummy breakfasty sweety things, all while casting away her cares in Italy. Sigh.
But let's check in on the average teacher perhaps one week into summer break...
Frantically driving to dentist and/or doctor appointments, wearing shorts and a teacher t-shirt, scavenging through Dunkin Donuts' bags, and gulp-drinking coffee that's so d***ed hot that it sucks the soul out of your body through its little plastic flap, all the while stressing over next week's classes on certification in ____(insert new district program, here).
Can it be done? Can teachers taste the sweetness of doing nothing in the summer? How important is this time, actually?
To a large extent the planning of the summer is in our hands. However, teachers tend to wait to do that planning until after school's out or tend to over-plan, with the thinking, "I can do that in the summer."
Enough of that thinking and you're moving at light-speed all summer.
Henry David Thoreau advises us:
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life...When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.
Yeah right, you're probably thinking, Easy for him to say while he was sitting there on Walden Pond.
However, we have to remember that Mr. Thoreau did mindfully make the choice to live this way. He specifically designed this time in order to work through whatever it was he wanted to work through. Nails, ants, seeds.
We CAN do the same thing with a little planning, but teachers are selfless group. We tend to put others' needs before our own.
If you don't take at least one week for yourself in the summer, free of all but the most remote responsibilities and driving and schedules and this and that, you are actually doing a disservice to your family.
This doesn't have to be an expensive week at a spa; it just means that you need to plan out a way for your kids to maybe spend a long weekend at a friends' house (share/trade off!).
More than anything though, it's a matter of attitude, this living slowly. It first means turning off the computer, the television, the radio. This is just for you--let others do as they may. But you, you're going to live slowly and purposefully. You're going to step away from all things education, teaching. You're going to schedule things to provide yourself this time.
Eat yummy stuff. Be unhurried for even a weekend. Use the good china. Be wise.
You'll be a better parent, teacher, and person for it.