It’s that time of year when almost every educator I talk to is feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and just plain unsettled. Back-to-school always brings mixed emotions, but this year’s back-to-school is especially uncertain. The “normal” we were once holding onto is a distant memory. How can we push forward and continue to take care of ourselves? As we all know, we can’t pour from an empty glass.
I am a mother of two incredible teenage daughters, who although occasionally increase the level of worry in my life, mostly provide me with endless love, pure joy and inspiration. If you are raising teenage girls, you may be familiar with the boho store, Natural Life. I have to admit, the vision and mission of this company speaks to my soul, as it does to most teenage girls. Their website shares messages such as:
“We believe it’s the little things that mean the most… that kindness really does matter… you should always be yourself… do what you love… and try to make the world a better place!”
In addition, if you so choose, Natural Life will send inspirational messages to your inbox called the Daily Chirp. Each morning, in addition to meeting reminders, schedule changes, and parent emails, etc., I receive a happy little message. This week, just in time for back-to-school, I received the following Chirp, “Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.”
This quote got me thinking. Many of us spend most of our time (especially our school year) looking forward to or counting down to summer vacation. Why do we spend most of our life longing for something else? It also reminded me of one of my most favorite mindful practices, “The One-Minute Vacation.” This is simply a quiet break in which you close your eyes and imagine your most favorite vacation spot in the world. When considering both, I decided to deeply consider a new self-care approach for this year…How can I bring the things I love most about vacation into my daily routines and lifestyle? This way maybe I won’t be living a life that I need a vacation from.
I realize that I can’t disappear to the beach during the average school day, but there are many things about those beach days that I can certainly bring to work with me.
First, vacation often has a “scent” to it. I think it might be time to bring a tropical, coconut scent to my work life. Scent can be so powerful that even a tiny whiff can take us back to a fond memory or create a strong image in our minds. This tiny moment might be just what we need to get through the rest of our day.
Secondly, there are things that I always make time for on vacation…drinking coffee slowly in the morning, naps, indulging in cheesy “beach reads”, spending time with the people I love the most. It’s time to fit more of these things into my everyday life. We constantly say, “I don’t have time for that.” It’s time to make time. If these are the little things that can bring us that sense of calm, we must make time.
Finally, I hear many of my friends and family talk about using vacation to unplug. This should be a strong consideration throughout the year. Delete those social media apps that only increase frustration and fuel the “I NEED A VACATION” fire. Give yourself parameters on checking school/work emails or simply talking and thinking about school/work. Remember, almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a while, including you.
It’s time. As you begin this school year, hold on tight to all of those things that make your everyday life be one you don’t need a vacation from.
Amanda Ensor is a Title I Family Engagement Specialist at Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.
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