It’s only a week and a bit into the UK summer holidays and, even though I was at work all last week, I’ve already achieved a state of near Nirvana as I can, quite literally, feel the stresses of a challenging year drain away in almost direct comparison to the diminishing number of emails in my in-box.
All term long I’ve been putting those chunky, time-hungry, boring jobs into a pile marked ‘holiday work’, knowing that they need the time, attention to detail and brain capacity that my term-time school day doesn’t allow me. So I spent a week, displaced from my normal office by building works, with my nose the grindstone, cracking out so much stuff that I cleared a huge amount of my to-do list and still had time for 3, yes 3 cups of tea a day, a chat with my site and IT guys and a therapeutic shredding session which cannot fail to bring joy.
Wellbeing note: The deep release found in shredding the personnel files of those that have caused you pain cannot be underestimated.
School in the summer holidays is a completely different world – a lovely one at that. It’s a time when you can slip down into fourth gear, maybe even third, and take a look out of the window at the scenery passing by. You can pass a civil word with the UPS driver, the window cleaner and the postman – people who you never otherwise get to speak to. You can archive, you can file, you can clear out, but you can also walk your school and see it as it truly is – without the distraction of students, staff and ‘stuff’. You can see the scuff marks on the walls, the carpet stains, the tattyness of forgotten noticeboards and the sheer volume of unwashed mould-growing mugs in departmental offices.
Mug Fact: If all the UK schools had a mug amnesty and handed over their mug stashes, there would be enough pottery to build a ceramic stairway to the moon. Fact.
I realised, as I unwound, that my days had been so tightly packed that I had not had a chance to breathe, I had even been choosing food options based on how quickly I could consume them (breakfast smoothie anyone?) so as to avoid stopping working for more than a couple of minutes a day. Seriously though, how nuts is that? And it’s not just me – check out the #SBMLunch hashtag on Twitter so see what a hopeless bunch we SBMs and SBLs are at looking after ourselves.
But I’m a lot better at managing myself these days, and I do take much better care of myself than I used to. In fact, I did so well in week one that I took week 2 off as leave, and I’ve spent the week with my family, riding rollercoasters, hanging out at the beach, watching films, walking dogs, playing daft games involving plastic chickens, drinking blue curacoa cocktails (you can take the girl out of Essex…), lolling around reading trashy novels and, yes, answering the occasional email, oh, and spending way too much time on Twitter.
And I feel completely refreshed and ready for, well, ready for work next week. Which is a brilliant place to be – I love my job, my kids have had a fabulous week, my husband is desperate for me to go back to work before I bankrupt us all, and everything is pretty much re-balanced to where it should be.
Motivational ending bit: So, all you other summertime school folk, remember to shift down a gear or two this summer. I like to drive fast, but if you stay in 5th gear all of the time you’ll either hit a wall or break your car. Take care of you.