Summer Teacher Challenge: Slow Down & Carpe Diem

I was working the other night at a local wine shop, which is my fun part-time/summer gig because, you know, teachers often need part-time/summer gigs. In my case it’s as much about getting some adult interaction (and, frankly, some quiet time) as it is about making extra cash. You see, I have spent the last 8 days with my girls, ages 6 and 9. I LOVE my girls, don’t get me wrong, but despite my facilitating multiple crafts and borrowing lots of library books and planning an outing EVERY DAY, they still manage to tell me at least once a day about how booooored they are.

But I digress…back to the wine shop. The other night three customers asked me for a cabernet sauvignon called Carpe Diem. It’s a wine we carry but don’t really sell that often. I thought it odd that three people asked for it in one night.

Later that night my husband and I were watching Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix (so gross, yet hysterical – a great summer binge show), and the theme of the episode was focusing on what is most important in your life.

The next day I logged into Facebook, and a teacher friend had posted about how she was going to spend this month living in the moment and not glorify being busy. I’m not a superstitious person, but I couldn’t help but think the universe was trying to tell me something.

So today I decided to listen. I woke up at 6:30 to my 7-month old labradoodle licking my armpit but decided to be happy it wasn’t my shrieking alarm and that I didn’t have to race around getting kids up, dressed, fed, et cetera, before heading off to school.  I bought bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, a favorite of my girls that we won’t have often. We lounged in our pajamas for a while.

Then I surprised them with a trip to a local splash park since the weather was gorgeous. My oldest initially protested because most of the kids there were “babies” (by this she meant 3 and 4 year olds). But the allure of the shooting water eventually got the best of her and soon both girls were darting through the sprinklers, daring each other to stand under the big bucket that fills and then dumps gallons of water.

I laid back on my towel and stared at the sky, the rushing water and shrieking kids falling to a din in the background. I just breathed in the fresh air and relaxed, really relaxed, for the first time in the last 8 days. Sure, there was laundry piling up at home and the dishwasher needed to be loaded and the bathroom scrubbed. But for that moment, I was just going to lie there in the sun.

When we got back from the park, I told the girls we were going to RELAX for the rest of the afternoon. We had lunch, played a game of UNO, took the dog for a walk, and the girls are now playing an elaborate game of “animal hospital” while I type. Later we are making dinner together at my youngest’s request because she wants to learn how to cook this summer (amen, sister…I’ll let you take over that job ASAP). As of today, I am vowing to plan less and just go with the flow more this summer, even if that means my girls are booooored. They will just have to get creative and go find something to do, which will be good for them in the long run.

Teachers, in general, are a tricky bunch. We are the most giving, kind, resourceful, organized, hard-working people out there. And we are so used to being so BUSY teaching young people all day that, when summer hits, many of us find it hard to STOP MOVING. We love to organize activities and plan trips and volunteer and work summer jobs.

But maybe what we need to do this week is slow down and find time to enjoy the moment, this very moment. We need to embrace the true definition of carpe diem, which is not doing a million things to “seize the day,” but instead being aware of and enjoying the present without worrying so much about the future.

So this is my summer teacher challenge to all teachers out there, inspired by my Facebook teacher friend: spend quiet time with the ones you love. Listen to some great music. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read. Binge watch that show that’s been in your watchlist for a year. Try a new recipe, if you enjoy cooking, or eat at a new restaurant if you don’t. Exercise a little each day if you can. It doesn’t even matter what kind of exercise it is; it will be good for your mind and body.

We have weeks to go until school starts and “busy” becomes our favorite word again. For now, RELAX AND ENJOY THE MOMENT!


Megan Panek is a secondary Language Arts teacher and instructional coach. She currently teaches and coaches at a career and technical education (CTE) center in Virginia and believes in CTE with all her heart. She considers herself a life-long learner and is always looking to improve her craft.”

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