Self Care

Music Teachers’ Guide to Self Care During the Holidays

The Holiday season is the best time of the year. Everyone is a little happier and gives a little bit more. It’s full of sparkle and music and peppermint everything. But everyone knows the Holidays can get stressful. That is even more true when you are a music teacher. If you are not careful, music teachers can quickly burn out during the Holidays. So this year, I– and now you!– am getting super intentional with my self care during the Holidays.

December is the absolute busiest month of the year for me, and I assume for you as well. My students perform in concerts, we have parties and field trips, I perform in concerts, my church kids have concerts– and that is on top of the normal Christmas festivities. Both my family and my husband’s family live near us, which means we have a lot of Christmas festivities. And then there is the end of the semester madness with grades and assessments…. it’s no wonder that music teachers are especially stressed out this time of year.

My usual strategy for music teacher self care during the Holidays is to basically do my best to sleep when I can and hold on for dear life until Christmas break.

But let me tell you, that is not a strategy for music teacher self care during the Holidays.

My wake up call came when I looked at the schedule for this school year. Normally we have at least a week off before Christmas– and during that time, I clean, shop, wrap presents, etc. This year, we get out on Friday the 20. That means there is the weekend, the 23, and Christmas Eve. Now, the whole reason I shop over winter break is because no one is at the stores. But surely people will be off that Monday and Tuesday. Which means there is no peaceful I’m-off-work-but-no-one-else-is shopping.

In addition, between church program and mom’s birthday and seeing all of the family, I don’t have a lot of time left over for baking and cleaning and making presents, which I usually do, and wrapping.

Now, I don’t say any of that to sound ungrateful. I love the Holidays. I love the concerts. I love the programs. I love seeing all of the family.

But I also know if I normally am stressed out, this year has the potential to be extra stressful.

So, my point in all of this is to say that I am being very intentional about my music teacher self care during the Holidays this year– and you should too! So let’s talk about specific ways that you can do that down below!

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Music Teachers' Guide to Self Care During the Holidays-- Being a music teacher is stressful enough, but the holidays magnify that. Between concerts and field trips and parties and grades and then all of the normal holiday stuff, it is really easy for music teachers to get really stressed out. This post includes actionable, practical tips to help keep you sane this holiday season! Becca's Music Room

Write Down Everything

I know, you thought that I was going to start by saying that you should take a bubble bath or get a coffee, right?

Wrong.

We’re going to kick off this guide to music teacher self care during the Holidays with getting your life together. how do you do that? Write down EVERYTHING that you will need to do during the stressful season. Grades, choir kid presents, wrapping, shopping, baking, field trip planning, etc. Write everything down. It is going to be a massive list. It’s going to get overwhelming.

Then…..

Automate, Delegate, and Eliminate

Once you have all of you items down, look and make sure that you actually have to do them all. Chances are, there are some things that you could delegate to someone else.

For example, I don’t need to spend a bunch of time cleaning my classroom when I could hold a few fifth graders back and have them clean up the room right after class. This gives me an extra five-ten minutes of work time, and allows me to reward some of my hard working students.

Or maybe you could delegate baking or decorating to your spouse of your kids if they are old enough. Or maybe you buy some lessons of sub plans off of TPT so that you don’t have to come up with them.

There may be something you could automate to make life easier– like maybe you order your meal plans or use a Roomba to vacuum the floors. Maybe you automate procedures, like having your choir students come into your room for rehearsal and immediately start stretching on their own instead of you guiding them through stretches.

What can you eliminate from your to do list? Surely there are some things on there that are cool, but not necessary.

Something I am eliminating? This year, in December, I am not writing blog posts. I usually do, but as I looked at the things I needed to do and thought about how busy I would be, I decided that I needed to drop something. I decided that would be blog posts.

Something else I am dropping? Grading a bunch of papers. I usually give my students one-two written assignments per month. In December, I am doing almost all of my grades through observation so that I won’t have to grade, keep up with, and store a whole bunch of papers. It is something super small, but I think it will make life just a little bit easier.

Music Teachers' Guide to Self Care During the Holidays-- Being a music teacher is stressful enough, but the holidays magnify that. Between concerts and field trips and parties and grades and then all of the normal holiday stuff, it is really easy for music teachers to get really stressed out. This post includes actionable, practical tips to help keep you sane this holiday season! Becca's Music Room
Weekly spread from my TPT product.

Schedule it all in– Including Your Self Care

Now that you have your super overwhelming list– which is hopefully a little shorter after your last step– you need to assign those tasks to a day. The problem with to do lists is that they are just overwhelming piles of tasks. But when you actually sit down and determine when you will do those tasks, it is a lot less overwhelming.

I use my weekly spread from my to do list product on TPT, and I just go ahead and print out enough for the whole month. Then I start with this week and write things down. When I get to the point where I know I will not get anything else done (especially on days when there are meetings or field trips), I don’t add anything else to that day– it goes to the next day.

Also important to schedule? Your self care. This is normally done outside of school, so I do it in my Full Focus Planner (you can get it here or watch a walk through video I did here). I decide on some things that I am going to do to take care of myself and I write. Them. Down. Just like any other task I need to do. This includes things like have lunch with husband or go for a run or take a bath. It also includes intentionally not scheduling anything for periods of time– especially if we just ended something big. So if I just had a concert last night, I am going to schedule in extra time where I don’t schedule in any time the next day.

Yes, I schedule in time to not schedule anything.

Is anyone else over here a 1?

Why? Because being a music teacher during the Holidays, if you don’t get intentionally about blocking off time in your schedule for you, IT WON’T HAPPEN. Life will happen and the to do list will happen. You need to schedule in time for you– even if that means scheduling in time to do nothing.

Music Teachers' Guide to Self Care During the Holidays-- Being a music teacher is stressful enough, but the holidays magnify that. Between concerts and field trips and parties and grades and then all of the normal holiday stuff, it is really easy for music teachers to get really stressed out. This post includes actionable, practical tips to help keep you sane this holiday season! Becca's Music Room
Full Focus Planner before I started to schedule everything in.

Get Things Done Early

I have the benefit of time right now– as I am writing this, we are only half way through November. If you are reading this on December 24, then you may want to just file this away for next year.

Get things done early. If you know that a particular week is going to be really busy, do anything you can ahead of time. That may mean cleaning the weekend before, or freezing dinners to eat that week, or doing extra grades the week before so that you don’t have to stress about those things the week of all of the stuff.

You know grades will be due. You know that you will need to make a Christmas program. You know that you will need to rehearse with your kiddos. You know you need to buy presents for your parents. Don’t put those things off!

Don’t get bombarded with things to do– if you know it is coming, get it done early!

Stay Present and Enjoy Yourself

Newsflash! The Holidays are supposed to be fun.

And so is music.

You probably started music because you enjoyed it and you liked performing– don’t let that get buried under a mountain of to do lists.

I know its hard, but try to stay present. That means keeping your mind on the RIGHT NOW, not on the other stuff. That is the whole reason why we wrote them down and scheduled them in– now that they are down on a calendar, you don’t need to keep all of those tasks in your brain anymore. You can be confident that they will get done when they should, so you don’t need to worry about them.

So don’t worry about them. When you are making cookies with your kids, just focus on that. If you are driving around looking at Christmas lights, just do that. If you are working on your Christmas program, then just do that. Focus on what you are doing, and remember to enjoy it.

Music Teachers' Guide to Self Care During the Holidays-- Being a music teacher is stressful enough, but the holidays magnify that. Between concerts and field trips and parties and grades and then all of the normal holiday stuff, it is really easy for music teachers to get really stressed out. This post includes actionable, practical tips to help keep you sane this holiday season! Becca's Music Room

Alright, so that is the ultimate guide to music teacher self care during the holidays. Looking for ideas for what to do for self care? You can read this post (Ways to Destress After a Long Day of Teaching) for specific ideas of what to do for yourself this Holiday season.

What would you add to our list for self care during the holidays? Let us know down below!

Happy Holidays!

Music Teachers' Guide to Self Care During the Holidays-- Being a music teacher is stressful enough, but the holidays magnify that. Between concerts and field trips and parties and grades and then all of the normal holiday stuff, it is really easy for music teachers to get really stressed out. This post includes actionable, practical tips to help keep you sane this holiday season! Becca's Music Room
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Self Care

Summer Anxiety: What it is and how teachers can deal with it

I love summer. Like, I really love summer. People talk about getting board during the summer, and I have to say… I do not. I love summer. But do you know what I do not love about summer? The summer anxiety that goes along with it.

Also known as back to school anxiety, summer anxiety is that feeling of dread and terror every time that you think about the upcoming school year. It often includes nightmares about all of the terrible things that can go wrong next year— or that did go wrong last year– and causes stress shopping in the Target Dollar Spot.

For a long time, I thought that I was totally alone in this whole summer anxiety thing. Then one day, of the the administrators made a comment about having back to school nightmares.

I couldn’t believe that other people had this same problem– but I was so glad other people have this problem.

So if you have this problem as well, I want you to know a few things about summer anxiety, and also about how to combat it so that it does not ruin your summer.

If you prefer to watch/listen, then you can check out the video version of this post on my YouTube– I really believe this is an important subject!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

What causes summer anxiety?

Summer anxiety is cause by the fear of the unknown– it is as simple as that. New school years bring new students, new teachers, new curriculums, new administrators, new rules, etc. Everything can change over a summer– and you will not know until you return for preplanning in the fall. All of the unknowns cause you to feel stress.

Summer Anxiety is Normal

When we hit one month before preplanning, I started to freak out. I was already starting to have nightmares, and every time I would think about school, I would get a feeling of dread in my stomach.

And when you spend all summer workings on Teachers Pay Teachers, my new teacher-centered Etsy shop, making YouTube videos for teachers, and my new book all about teaching, it is not something that I could get away from. Well, I could, but that would cause me to have far fewer YouTube videos and TPT products, which I would regret once school starts and I get truly busy.

I put a poll out on my Instagram stories (Do you follow me on Instagram? You definitely should!) and almost all of the teachers who answered said that they also felt summer anxiety. This is of course not a super professional study, but it did tell me that two things:

  1. I am not alone.
  2. Other people might need help navigating this.

Summer anxiety does not make you a bad teacher

I would venture to say the opposite– if you are spending part of your summer worrying about the next school year, then you must be a good teacher. One who wants to do her best and make next year as good as possible.

Summer anxiety is all about wanting this year to go well. That may manifest itself in dread (guilty!), but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be a teacher, or that you are a bad teacher. It simply means that you know some of the realities of things that can happen in the course of a school year, and that you want to be good.

If you are worried about the school year in the summer, than you are a good teacher. Period.

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room

So what can we do about summer anxiety?

So, we have established that you are not alone, and that you are a good teacher. But…. we still do not want you to spend the whole summer stressing.

There are plenty of things that you can do in order to decrease the anxiety and help yourself move on. Here are a few ideas:

Accept that you cannot fix everything now.

One of the main causes of summer anxiety is all of the unknowns about the upcoming school year. Want to know the real, scary truth? You cannot fix all of them right now. You will not be able to find out your schedule or your roster until it is time for school to start. And that stinks. But, you need to accept that some things will be unknowns until preplanning. Tell yourself that you can deal with it once school starts, and move on. As best you can, at least.

Focus on the positives.

I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel anxious about the school year, I am thinking about all of the things that went wrong. I am thinking about the one time that a student with autism ran out of the room. Or the one time that there was a child jumping off of the tables (that hold pianos!) and his parents told me, “Well, he’s 6. He has some energy.” (True story, by the way.) Or the time that I had to physically restrain a student who hadn’t taken her medicine because she tried to attack another student in the class, which resulted in me getting hit, kicked, scratched, pinched, and bit (Which, by the way, prompted me to write the post Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day.)

Now, honestly, I do not normally get quite that real in my blog or my YouTube videos or my Instagram. Not because I do not think that I should, but because I know that there are a lot of teachers who read that last paragraph and totally changed their opinion of me. Some people cannot relate, and therefore think that 1. I am crazy or 2. I have no idea how to manage my class. Just so you know, I am not crazy, and I do know how to mange my class. But I have some really difficult children who are in really rough situations, and sometimes they manifest themselves in behaviors such as the ones above.

In this post, I want to be as real as possible, because I know that there are people in similar situations with similar problems who are currently stressing out about those kinds of things. And I want them to be able to know they are not alone. If you read that and think that clearly I have lost my mind, then just count yourself lucky and pray you never have a situation like that.

I do not want to get too deep into this, but may write a whole post about this subject by itself.

Anyway.

When you have really rough things that have happened, it is really hard to stop thinking about them. And you may have a really hard time not dwelling on them and being terrified that they will happen again.

I get that I have been there. You are not alone.

But in order to have less anxiety and stress, try thinking about some of your favorite moments from the last school year. Think about the things that went right, and things that you cannot wait to experience again.

Negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity. If you think about the positive things, then you will have a much better outlook on the upcoming school year.

A few things that I am reminding myself to look forward to:

  • Having a whole 1st grade class using their singing voices
  • Having students request a song
  • The first performance with my choir
  • A class that goes as planned
  • A student telling me that I am their favorite teacher

Those are just a couple of really amazing things that happened last year, that I am looking forward to and focusing on. The more I focus on them, the less I focus on those bad things that happened.

Start planning.

Now, we established that there are a lot of things you do not have control over and cannot deal with yet. But there are also a lot of things you can do now to feel more prepared and less stressed.

Make some goals: What are some things you want to accomplish this year? What will you do better? Start thinking of ways that you can have your best year yet now. Maybe come up with new routines (check out this post!) or make a plan to get organized (and I have the lesson planning templates for that!).

Planning your curriculum: Start looking for some things you would like to incorporate this year! Now is the best time to pick a couple of fun lessons out. You can peruse Pinterest, or look on blogs (if you teach music, I have tons of free lessons on here that you can check out– you can also gain access to the free resource library by clicking here!)

Plan your classroom: Now, I do not like to spend a lot of money on my classroom, but I do like to buy or make a few little things here and there to help me “nest”. Having a new book or a new rug or a new banner will help you the feel a little more excited and a little bit less stressed for the upcoming year. Check out my classroom tour here.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Strategies

Do you experience summer anxiety? How do you deal with it? Let us know down in the comments!

And don’t forget to sign up for access to the FREE resource library! I send out weekly updates, plus monthly free resources! Sign up here!

Happy teaching!

Summer Anxiety: what it is and how teachers can deal with it. Are you a teacher suffering from anxiety about the back to school season? Every time you think about the upcoming school year, you feel a pit in your stomach or a sense of dread, you have summer anxiety. Read through what that means and how you can deal with it. Becca's Music Room
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