The #1 Mistake Teachers Make Before Breaks

December 15, 2020
The #1 Mistake Teachers Make Before Breaks

A really weird thing happens to educators the week or so before a break comes up...

We go into this tailspin of trying to wrap things up at school while simultaneously obsessing about all the things that must happen or “get done” while we're on break.

Am I right?

Almost every educator I have ever met - colleagues and clients alike - experience this duality of truly desiring some legit time off while also feeling the real pressure of getting caught up on things that never seem to get accomplished while school is in session.

So what ends up happening?

We over plan and we overcommit.

We spend weeks dreaming about our upcoming time off, counting down the days like an advent calendar while a little part of our brain is actually already on vacation. Meanwhile, the other part of our brain is going straight into planning mode - thinking about painting that hallway in the house, meeting a friend for lunch, cleaning up the shed, scheduling appointments, and the list goes on and on.

Before you knew it, the weekend after Thanksgiving was booked solid with tasks and appointments, and - if you’re lucky - you might've been able to squeeze in a happy hour with a close friend that you rarely get to see. 

Fast forward to the Friday before Winter break and you’re so antsy to get out of dodge that you don’t have the time or energy to properly close up shop. Instead, you are throwing a bunch of things in the bag or rollie cart you’re schlepping to the car, thinking that you’ll find some time over the break to take care of it all.

Sound familiar?

Whether you are teaching in person or virtually, the mentality is there: You can’t wait to have time to catch your breath AND you’ve already filled every waking minute of your upcoming break with the “doing” of things.

So before your break even starts, it's over.

You head back to school feeling just as tired - or more so - than you were before break even started.

And guess what? You actually really didn’t get a whole lot done either. At doesn’t feel like it because you didn't get it ALL done. There’s still those last few things on your list…

So since 2020 is forcing us to redefine normal, why don't we flip the script on how we approach and prep for our breaks?!?

Instead of creating a task list full of things to DO, first think about how you want to feel. Ask yourself this question (over and over if you have to! Just keep asking until you feel really good about your answer):

How do I want to FEEL when I go back to school?

How do you REALLY want to feel? For a moment, put obligation, guilt, and limitation aside and let yourself get intimate and honest with your answer without worrying about the logistics of making it happen. On that first Monday morning back as you are powering up your computer and getting ready to check email and take attendance - how do you want to feel?

What does your heart say? Do you want to feel…





Charged up?





Once you are really clear how you want to feel, then you can reverse engineer your approach to your break. What can you add to your time off that will allow you to feel that way? And, on the flip side, what can you eliminate from your plans that will most positively NOT allow you to feel that way?

When someone invites you to go somewhere, or you feel pressure to complete a project, or guilt creeps in about your students not having anything to keep them engaged, or when one of a million other things comes up that makes you second guess how you are spending YOUR break, ask yourself one question:

Is this supporting the way I want to feel when I return from break?

If your answer is no, then decline the invite and politely tell the guilt and pressure to fuck off. 

If your answer is yes, then accept that invite, shoot a message to your student, or go ahead and tackle that project.

Super simple. And I am all about simple and easy these days. And when something does feel hard or out of alignment, I just ask myself “How can I make this thing easy?", and even better…“How can I make it FUN?” (And yes, I talk to myself a lot! It actually helps keep me sane - even though I look like a crazy person all the time!)

Once you are clear about how you want to feel, you’ve removed what doesn’t support you in feeling this way, and you've added in the things that do support you in feeling this way, I’d love to encourage you to take it one step further.

Plan nothing. At least for one day. 

Give yourself permission to have ONE day where you get to wake up and do (or not do) anything! This is the ultimate practice of being present. Just listen to whatever is on your heart and mind in that moment - and then give yourself permission to follow through with it. If it’s a “hang out in pj's while reading in bed all day" day - fantastic! If it’s a "get up and go surf" or "take a yoga class" or "journal all day" or "binge on Netflix" or "do a 2021 vision board" kind of day, then go for it!

I know that might sound a bit foreign or even scary to quite a few of you - and in the past I've also been guilty of not giving myself permission to follow my heart and be present on my own breaks. However, one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that giving yourself permission to do and be whatever you need to in any given moment - especially on break - will propel you so much farther ahead than working non-stop, only to show back up to school more exhausted and resentful than you were before you left.

I promise you WILL make a bigger impact for your students upon your return if you focus on making the biggest impact for yourself during your time away.

And if you are struggling with nailing down how you want to feel or taking action in support of those feelings, then give me a call and let's chat about how I can help. Because if there is one thing I know for sure, it's that every single one of you deserves to relax, recharge, and refresh over winter break. And doing that for yourself is truly the greatest gift you can give your students this holiday season!



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