Anxiety, Education, High School, Middle School, Secondary ELA, Secondary English, Teacher, Texas

Taming Summer Anxiety- What I Do During the Summer to Combat Teacher Guilt

Being a teacher is great. I’ve always loved that I get summers off from going to school to be with my daughters. Notice I didn’t say “I like having summer off from work” because as most teachers I know will tell you, they work during the summer. Even if they swear they aren’t going to. Even if they promise themselves that they are going to take it easy. They work.

If they’re anything like me, they know that the things they do during the summer will only make their school year that much easier. Plus, you actually have time during the summer to make cute things and take your time.

For me, there is another reason I work. TEACHER GUILT. Let me explain: My husband goes to work all the time. He doesn’t get summers. Granted, he doesn’t have to teach teenagers and he can eat lunch at a normal pace and pee whenever he wants, but he doesn’t get summers off. I figured out really quickly, once our girls didn’t actually need me to take care of them all the time, that I needed a plan to deal with summers. Here’s why:

I CANNOT sit around all day, do nothing but watch TV, and not feel guilty. My husband has NEVER told me, “Hey, could you clean up the place?” or “How about cooking some dinner?” He knows how stressful teaching is, and knows how important summers are for hitting that reset button. He’s fine with the TV watching and being lazy.

I’m not.

If I sit around all day and accomplish absolutely nothing, I feel so much anxiety that I need Hyland’s Nerve Tonic to sleep. If he comes home from working and the house is a wreck, I practically break out in hives. I just can’t do it. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I work pretty hard at teaching. I love my job, and I’m proud of what I do, so I take time and effort to be the best I can be. That doesn’t just turn off because I’m not going to my classroom.

Because of this, I knew I needed to find a way to strike a balance between working and resting this summer. Inspiration struck when I was thinking about cleaning the house that first week out of school. I made a schedule of things to do each week day so that I could do them and check them off. After I’ve done those small chores, I don’t feel bad about reading all day (another assignment for myself this summer) or watching movies with my youngest. I’m on third day of my second week of using this schedule, and I have to say it’s going really well! One thing I’ve figured out is that the first week was a little harder because it was the first big clean. On this second go ’round, it’s been so much easier because it’s just upkeep now!

All in all, I’d call my schedule a success so far, and I’m happy to walk around my clean house and read all the books. Those will also hopefully get cleaned up because I’m taking all the ones I finish to my classroom library. Between chores, reading, TPT, and lesson planning, I’m just busy enough to feel productive but not overworked. And my anxiety is in check.

If you’re the kind of teacher who can leave on the last day of school and not think about one school-related thing until the first day of PD, you’re lucky. For those that struggle with the summer guilt, I’d love to hear the ways that you combat it!