As a high school teacher, I am often counting down the days, hours and minutes until the next school holidays. This year, after an unseasonably hectic Term Two I was well and truly ready for winter holidays. Normally I have some sort of plan for the upcoming holidays. The last three school holidays have seen me move to a new house and travel to Hawaii and Bali. Yet these winter holidays didn’t have the promise of anything exciting. This made me nervous. Would the cold of the winter in our tiny house squeeze all the good will out of me? Would I be driven insane with boredom in the absence of Dave and any family or friends living close by? What do you do, when you don’t have anything planned to do?
Here are my top tips to make the most of your holidays and ensure that you are achieving goals and taking care of yourself.
Number One: Create a list.
Before your holidays start create a list. Actually, I create two lists. List number one is for work. What are all the little bits and pieces I would like to get done before term starts back? Some people think that teachers don’t work in the school holidays. While I cannot speak for other teachers, I personally SMASH out the work. I usually dedicate the first week of the holidays to this and aim to have it so that when I return to school, I have all my lessons and assessments for the term already created. I also make a personal list. What are the jobs I haven't gotten around to? Who are the people I would like to see? What things can I do purely for enjoyment?
Number Two: Relax and Read
Some teachers can read during the term. I'm so stressed out by all the stuff I have to read for school that this is entirely impossible. When holidays come, I have a pile of half or un-read books. This school holidays I resolved to read a number of them. 'The Girl on the Train' was a birthday present from my sister. I loved the movie and the book was just as thrilling. I had read 'Animal Farm' previously but only just bought a copy for myself. These two were finished easily. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was half read from last year and I began my journey of finishing it off. 'The Illustrated Man' and '1984' are waiting in the must-read pile.
Number Three: Get some Vitamin D
In this cold weather, and in my even colder house, sitting out on the back deck has been the highlight of my holiday. It seems like in the winter time I'm less inclined to do anything. But sitting on the back deck soaking up the rays provided a serene scape for school work, reading watching videos and drinking countless cups of tea. This small space provided me with little moments of happiness. If you are going to do something, do it in the sunshine.
Number Four: Exercise
Remember that gym membership? The term has been so busy, chances are you forgot about it. But the holidays are the perfect time to get back into the swing of things. I found that after indulging in a morning sleep in then getting stuck into the 'must do' stuff, lunch time or thereafter seemed to be the perfect time to hit the gym. Have you ever noticed how great you feel afterwards? These holidays I spent four or five days a week at the gym. It has got me in such a positive head space that I feel ready to face all that term three has to bring.
Number Five: DIY
I love fun, crafty activities. Yucky winter days are the perfect time to DIY. I redecorate the house and get into some deep cleaning. I also like to print off a number of pictures from my phone and stick them into my scrapbook. Keeping tickets, cards and other small memorabilia can also be used to give your scrapbook pages interesting features. Colourful backing paper and stickers give your pages some texture. I have a scrapbook for each of my overseas trips as well as other significant life events. Looking back on them is nostalgic and whimsical.
Number Six: Choose who deserves your time
"We should catch up while you are on holidays" seems to be the catch phrase. Sometimes you feel obliged to catch up everyone who puts the offer out there. But remember, your time is precious. Choose who deserves your time. Not everyone needs a slice of your time, unless of course your happy to give it out as if it was Cherry Coke you were trying to get rid of. These holidays I was cautious with my time. If someone made plans with me but didn't follow through, I didn't bother chasing it up. I reached out only to those who are important to me. I think it's better to have a few close friends than a multitude of acquaintances.
Number Seven: Be Alone
I love the movie 'How to be Single'. at the end of the film the protagonist narrates something to the effect of "There may only be a handful of moments in your life where you are truly alone". This resonates with me. We spend our time at work with our colleagues. At home with our partner or family. At the gym with random strangers. Or doing things with friends. But how much time do we spend alone? Be alone. Take in the quiet of aloneness. I ride my bike. I sit in the sun, not doing anything, just basking. I drive with the radio off listening only to my thoughts. Soon the holidays will ve over and you will no longer be alone and chances are, you miss it.