105 Ways to Make the Most of Winter Break
Preparing for the Rest of the Year Made Fun
The final bell rang yesterday after our all-school assembly to start Winter Break! Congratulations fellow educators, we made it to break. This is the time of year when teachers get to rest and rejuvenate. How will you spend your winter break? Here are 105 different ideas on how you could incorporate some self-care into your Winter Break broken down by mental tips, physical tips, practical tips, social tips, writing teacher specific tips, and general teaching self-care tips.
Mental Self-Care Top 25
Read a book. May I recommend We Are Never Meeting In Real Life? by Samantha Irby. Not serious at all and it will make you laugh in a good way.
Journal. Write down plans, thoughts, feelings, and any residual tension from pre-winter break.
Start a bullet journal and feel ready for 2018. Trust me. This community gets planning in a creative way.
Sit by a fire, Christmas Tree, or my current classroom favorite...a fireplace on Youtube...and soak in the atmosphere.
Reflect on ways to say, "NO" to more responsibilities or tasks at school.
Celebrate what you are saying, "YES" to things that are helping kids.
Ask Alexa to play something relaxing in the morning while waking up. I play "sounds of the ocean" to remind me of water in the summertime or vacation.
Write down positive affirmations to remind yourself of the great job you are doing throughout the school year.
List 10 things you are amazing at when it comes to your job. I bet the list surprises you. Post this when you return to work.
Journal about gratitude. What are your grateful for at work? What are you grateful for at home? What are you grateful for that you are able to to today?
Listen to podcasts or audio books. I love listening to the ones that pay particular attention to my hobby, blogging. What is your hobby?
Put the phone, computer, tablet, chromebook, general electronic device down...at a reasonable time.
And at the same time, feel free to watch make-up tutorials on YouTube.
Clean! Give yourself time after the holidays to recover from cooking and entertaining, and then clean out that one closet that is full of stuff. Cleaning this out removes physical and emotional blockage from your home and life.
Clean your sheets. Trust me on this one. There is nothing like clean sheets or warm towels.
Buy new pillows. I tried washing our old pillows and they turned into puddles in the washing machine. I went and got new ones at Target. Our bed feels like vacation bed.
Start a brand new New Year's Eve tradition. We get caught up in "starting fresh" for the new year. I am going to try reflecting on the accomplishments of the old year first.
Snuggle a pet. I am the dog mom that takes her doggie to dog day care; however, I want to spend some time with my girl because she won't be clocking in-the-crate hours as much as when we are both working full-time.
Netflix? Hulu? Any of the above! I just wanted the whole Alias Grace season on Netflix. Plan a veg-out day.
Get into the habit of keeping the same notebook or journal on your night stand. Wake up with a lesson plan idea at 3am? I do. Write it down and be able to go back to sleep. Give that information to the notebook.
Make a mental mantra. Write it down so you are ready to repeat it in times of stress. Think: "All things are temporary" or "Be still and know" etc.
Meditate. There is an app for that in case you do not know how to start.
Listen to this guided meditation. You will want to laugh and zone out at the same time.
Make a "Happy Things" board on Pinterest. I look through mine whenever I need a pick-me-up.
Google teacher memes. They are surprisingly accurate...all the time.
Physical Self-Care Top 15
Work out. The time is available, and you will feel better. I doubt this every. single. time. Then, I get sick for three weeks. Start working out again? Sickness gone.
Sleep. And don't feel bad about it. We feel guilty for not setting an alarm sometimes. This is a time to relax, not "get ahead."
Drink your morning cup of coffee in your pajamas, or in bed, or on the couch under a blanket. We are often rushing out of the door to go to school or a meeting on time. Enjoy the time where you can actually not feel the stress of your body on a schedule.
Drink water. We get to pee whenever we want. Hydrate while possible!
Yoga. Serve your body and mind in a single practice. Namaste my teaching friends.
Grab a vitamin to start a regimen now.
Pin ideas on Pinterest about meal planning.
Buy under eye masks. I really like the ones from Burt's Bees. I look refreshed and awake after I take them off.
Invest in a good face moisturizer. I turned 30 and realized the value of moisturizer. It also is making my skin look amazing.
Cook a great meal for your partner or significant other. I don't know about you, but my partner often ends up cooking because I am grading or just down right tired. I like to return the favor on breaks as much as possible.
Dry winter skin is begging for lotion. This doesn't have to be fancy. Put lotion on your feet and go take a nap. Hop out of a bath and put lotion on. Try to choose a scent that makes you happy.
Look at protein shakes. How can you make the trip to the copy machine easier and healthier?
Don't jump the gun on a gym membership for 2018. I admire those teachers that can work out regularly and also teach. However, I know that I cannot fit this into my grading and work/life schedule. I am going to skip the membership, and try to do a barre or yoga class 1-2 times a week instead.
Get a massage. Go to the doctor if you have been putting it off. Go get glasses. Stop by the dentist. See the people you need to see to get healthy.
Nap. Why? Because we can.
Practical Self-Care Top 10
Get new school supplies. Something about a new set of gel pens makes me want to look at that stack of final drafts that is sitting in my to-grade tote.
Restock on ink for your printer. I don't know about you, but as I get more tired approaching the holiday season, I forget to get the ink. Make your life easier when you return to school.
Dig out a new school bag. Nothing feels better than getting a new work bag organized for school when you return.
Clean out your IN BOX. Don't respond to parent or work emails unless they are urgent... you are on break. However, you can make folders, delete, and mark those that need response right away when you return.
Put positive affirmations on your alarm clocks for work. This will be a great surprise when you are headed back to the old grind.
Service your vehicle. I never have time during the school hours. Get the oil change, the new tires, or the tune-up that is needed in the winter months.
Reflect on budget. Where can you save money? Where should you be spending it? Think minimalism for 2018.
Figure out ways to leave the expandable crate that carries all of your papers home in one fell swoop. I am setting a goal in 2018: I am only taking papers home that fit into my teacher bag. Not in a giant box on wheels.
Buy a new travel mug or ask for one as a gift. These feel like small luxuries during school time. I love my new Harry Potter Tervis from my teacher friend because I can fit TWO cups of coffee in one cup. Double the productivity when I return to school.
Watch episodes of Fixer Upper on HGTV because they will make you want to redecorate your house. Inspiration leads to the results here. If no actions are taken, think of ways to improve your house or fix it up.
Social Self-Care Top 20
Get on social media...in a good way. Check out other teacher instagrams or twitters. They offer some amazing support!
Schedule coffee or tea with a school friend. It is amazing being able to sit down and speak to a friend from school when you aren't trying to eat lunch, grade, and run around.
Schedule a meet-up with a non-school friend. I value other perspectives that are not in the school buildings each day.
Go out to dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. We don't often get to do these luxuries like sit down and eat or even go out to eat.
Call family or friends you haven't spoken with in awhile.
Bake cookies with kids. You get to eat the cookies. Kids feel like they made something.
Cook a new recipe from Pinterest for the family. I swear Pinterest may be one of the main reasons that I started cooking in the first place. Invite people over to enjoy.
Go to a new restaurant, coffee shop, or local shop in your city or town. Take the time to explore.
Join Facebook support groups of teachers. Again with the social media....there are great connections and supports out there with amazing ideas.
Network with community organizations that can help kids. These are great places to find programming for kids, build partnerships, and make connections that are helpful in your classroom.
Schedule time for family. Literally put it into your planner. I like to put TV watching time with my husband into my planner. Season 1 of The Punisher? Yes, please. Book it.
Go see a play, museum exhibit, art gallery, or show. Even the movies count. Go see other peoples' work to help inspire your work.
Grab a coffee and walk every inch of Target. Look in each section slowly and carefully. I am not advocating spending all the money. I am advocating spending the time browsing and looking. Window shopping can sometimes be the best medicine to stress.
Take a road trip with a friend. I have a bookstore that has been on my to-visit list that is 45 minutes away. I want to schedule a day trip.
Plan a trip with friends for the summer. Now is the time to start planning bigger trips in the summer so we can get excited. We can start saving, planning, and dreaming.
Comment on teacher blogs and become an active voice in your community. Subscribe to those same blogs to stay current on new posts, strategies, and issues.
Join Twitter conversations about teaching. I have talked to some great authors that I never would have spoken with because of the magic of Twitter.
Put a gift or a card in a neighbor's mailbox.
Host a friend get-together at your house. Plan fun appetizers or fancy drinks. I tried to muddle basil once...
Attend a New Years Event. We have a downtown community New Years Fest...attend and join your community.
Writing Teacher Specific Self-Care
WRITE! Whatever genre calls to you. Get out a fresh notebook and write some words down of your own. Fiction story? Yes! Kids book? Oh, yes. Poetry? Please and thank you!
Research ways to cut down on grading or paperwork during the school year.
Volunteer to lead a writing workshop for a local organization or community center. Give back.
Read books on writing...not just the teaching of writing. I love Stephen King's On Writing or Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.
Plan specific days to tackle papers. And do it early. Do not wait until the last day before break to handle the stack of papers. I try to get my stack out of the way on days when my husband has to go into work. I do often procrastinate on planning...but that is the fun part.
Check out rubric codes. Seriously, they have changed how I do business.
Work Pixar shorts into your teaching of writing. Kids love them. You will love them. You can use them for teaching dialogue, description, or sequencing.
Look at Joy Writing.
Look at creative writing platforms like Write About. I have been using this for Friday Free Writers, and the kids were actually mad about having to stop writing to go to an all-school assembly.
Get a hold on grammar instruction with an online platform like NoRedInk. This is grammar that incorporates student interest. It helps students teach themselves how to correct their own grammar, and it does it in a way that is similar to live editing.
General Teaching Self Care Top 25
Open up a book on pedagogy, strategy, or something with your content area. I was really revived after reading Kelly Gallagher's In The Best Interest of Students this past summer.
Write out days to rest in your planner. Stick to it.
Make a self-care kit. No, self-care is not about bubble baths. However, self-care is also about being prepared. Make a self-care kit.
Buy a new 2018 calendar to hang in your classroom. Choose one that has positive quotes or one that you will look forward to turning its pages. I adore the one that has the Underwater Dogs. It makes me smile every time.
Collaborate with other teachers about how to work more in a cross-curriculum format. I am getting close to my paper that I collaborate on with my social studies teacher for 7th grade...
Start a snow day prediction tradition. In Michigan, we have two more months of snow day potential days. I know a teacher that puts up snowflakes in her classroom and if they fall down a snow day will come true. Anything is game.
Revisit how you assign homework. I love the Article of the Week. What do you do for homework? Is it working?
Figure out a morning routine. This may be morning pages or journaling, or some kind of start to your day that can focus on mind, body, or soul. Start practicing now over break!
If morning routines don't work for you, think of an end of the day routine. How do you want to end the school day? How do you want to wind down before bed? Start rehearsing this routine now!
If you get a plan time during the day, develop a routine for plan. Start with copies and end with phone calls? Get into the habit of using this time wisely and planning it out. We often lose time and it is often because we are overwhelmed and sit and dote on plan...instead of working.
Ask Santa or whoever asks what you want for the holidays as a gift for some headphones. Use them at school. This music will help you focus your time during plan or after school. These are the times when minds wander.
Plan out days to use those sick days. I think I currently have over 50 saved up...teachers need to feel alright about taking some time once and while. Look at January and February and pick a day to schedule.
Create a new sub binder so leaving is easier. I want to focus on this as a post soon. There are also some great options on TPT.
Plan time to leave your building during the day. Even if it is just stepping outside to get a breath of fresh air or go grab a coffee. I want to start working this in to once a week on plan going to get a treat from the local coffee shop.
Think of your classroom. Does one area need some love or attention? Maybe plan out a new bulletin board or pick an area to add some flexible seating. Show that spot in your room some love when you return.
Keep positive notes from kids in a notebook or box. Write down amazing things they say or write them on stickies and put them in books or journals. These small sentiments are what drives us as educators. A simple, "I get it now!" or "Why do we only write in your classroom?" mean the most to me when I am tired.
Figure out ways to work self-care into the classroom for kids. Mindfulness minute? Deep breathing? If we need self-care, they need it too.
After taking some time off. Do some future lesson planning. Give yourself permission to dream of exciting new lessons. I am going to be working on a TED TALK Unit for 7th grade after I am rested...can't wait.
Put some of your favorite lesson plans on TPT. 1.) Make some side hustle money for that much needed cup of coffee later on in the year. 2.) Share resources. We are in this together.
Think of a way to thank a co-worker or give a compliment. These notes and words are appreciated.
Preview texts or books for kids that are in their age range. I love reading YA novels because then I become the master recommender during library time. I also love looking at picture books because I like to think of ways to incorporate them into my lessons.
Avoid boredom. Plan a new twist on an old lesson.
Try out a new planning platform. I love Planboard on Chalk.com.
Look at new teacher apps and figure out how to incorporate them into your classroom. I love Google Classroom, and I love using new platforms in the classroom to see if they work out or not.
Writing Mindset Reflection: What ways do you rejuvenate over winter break? How do you gear up for the rest of the school year? Share below in the comments!