Take The Time (December 2013 #3)

As educators, one of our most valuable resources is time. What can we do with the time we have during extended breaks to respect and honor ourselves

In the midst of this week’s Monday Musing, my partner requested that I consider something on the lighter side as many are preparing to spend extended time with “family”, away from school – feeling both the joy and stress of various holidays.  (Perhaps I should put a bow on that idea, as I will count its fulfillment as one of his gifts this year.)

So, how do we spend our extended time away from our normal, daily rituals?  I realize that some within our communities don’t have the luxury of thinking about this as the answer is defined by prerequisites of childcare, travel to and from family, and multiple jobs.  For those of us who have some choice, this can be a great time to dedicate some advance thought and intentionality towards reaching goals that sometimes fall between the cracks of busy lives.

How do you prioritize your lists?  Do you think of the tasks to do for ourselves first?  Others close to us?  Our jobs?  Do you consider what must be done vs. should be done… vs. would be nice to do?  Why?

As I think about the importance of being intentional about my own time, it makes me wonder what my expectations and beliefs are about my students’ time.   Where do these come from?  How do I check these assumptions, and how do I communicate them through my stated expectations?  I frequently consider how, when I was in the classroom, I frequently communicated to students how break was the perfect time for students to ramp up and do a lot of extra work – while I was expecting that for me it was the perfect time to shut down and take a restorative break from work (neither ever played out.)

What is possible beyond the normal rituals of this season? Before we let the rush of the season take us over, how much would it take for each of us to answer for ourselves, “What do I need to do… what do I want to do with the time I have?”  After asking around, some of my favorites are listed here:


  • What is the book that you need for your own professional growth?  Read it… after the  one you have been wanting to read to escape the pressures of responsibility.

  • Take out a map and consider the communities within driving distance that you have not experienced – go for lunch with the goal of talking to a set number of strangers.

  • Write a letter – a real letter with a pen or pencil!  Mail it with a stamp.

  • Play a board game while sipping warm beverages.

  • Talk to an old friend at the kitchen table.

  • Think back to your childhood and a favorite memory for this season – how can you re-create it with someone you love?

  • If you are one who finds yourself cramming on tax day, maybe this is a good time to get some home business in order – while sitting at an outdoor café.  (It doesn’t have to be taxes, you can organize photos or mend socks or do whatever helps you to relax and feel a level of accomplishment).

  • What is the dish you love to make (or eat) that your normal schedule rarely allows you to make?  Bon appétit!  (Mine is 12-Hour Vegetarian Chili.)

  • Remember all those people you love who you always say, “I can’t believe how long it has been.  We have to make the time to get together!”  Reduce that list by one.

  • Repot a new houseplant to freshen the air in your home.

  • Take at least three unscheduled naps.

  • Listen to the song that always makes you dance – but they don’t play on the radio anymore.

  • Go to the local museum/ galleries you know least about.  Bring a sketchbook.

  • In one day – write one poem and take one great picture.  (I actually do that one on my birthday.)

  • Make a list of all you have to be thankful for – and every morning, commit to holding one in your mind, your heart and your hands.

  • Pay it forward.  Find some way to give back (service, resource, etc.) during this time.

  • Think about the student you do – or should – have a personal relationship with.  Reach out and connect with her/him… just because.


Happy Holidays.  Happy Winter.

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