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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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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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!