The Pressure of a Day Off

My schedule in the summer is wildly irregular. Not only does it change from day to day but also from week to week. Which sounds stressful but I actually enjoy being able to be flexible and accommodate my students’ changing schedules: summer camp in the afternoon one week, evening swimming the next, afternoon camp and evening soccer the third, etc.

My policy states that I expect to see my students for a lesson unless they are out of town; there is no scheduled break in the calendar other than spring break, a week after Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Thu through Sun, and the week between Christmas and New Year, but students have the option to take a week off every ten weeks if they wish (many don’t). So it seems only fair that I try to work around their schedule as much as I can. Some students even change the lesson format: two 30-min lessons in a busy week, two 45-min lessons when there’s more time; others try to keep it more regular. Whatever works for them, I’ll try to do.

Because an unusually high number of students are taking two lessons a week this summer, all of them Mon/Thu, those two days are really full. Not much the other three days. Last week, it so happened that all Wed students were out of town. Which meant that in the middle of the week I unexpectedly had a day off. A glorious nothing-on-the-calendar day.

Maybe it’s the heat – it’s been unusually hot, or maybe it just feels like that – maybe politics which cause a great deal of stress these days, but on this day off I felt a lot of pressure to ENJOY THE DAY! or at least MAKE GOOD USE OF IT! so that it feels like the special day it was. So much on my list of things I would do if I had a day off from teaching and nothing else on the calendar either – ARE YOU RELAXING ALREADY??

It used to take me a couple days to get into vacation mode but over the last two, maybe three years I have been able to switch gears more quickly, so I was surprised that on this day off I only felt pressure, no relief, and that I couldn’t get into “vacation” (if only for a day) mode. At the end of the day I had accomplished a bit of what I thought I SHOULD! do, taken a bit of time to relax, but mostly I was struggling with how to make this day off worthwhile? count?

During the school year I teach Monday through Saturday, but in the summer I take Saturdays off. And every Saturday I say, Thank God it’s only Saturday, Thank God I have two days in a row, enough time to get stuff done, and also some time to just be off.