The Boredom of Summer

I like the rhythm of school year and summer; it’s one of the reasons I became a teacher. But even though the summer brings a welcome change of pace, I don’t usually hope for unstructured weeks on end. During the school year, my life is segmented into 45 minute blocks and so to wake up with unscheduled hours before me can feel overwhelming.

This is the first summer in 19 years that I haven’t had some sort of paid employment. It’s an incredibly strange feeling. I’ve had to find ways of making little schedules or to-do lists for myself to keep from going absolutely mad. I’ve done yoga, gone swimming, read books, gotten massages, played games on my phone, run errands, and cleaned house, but there’s also been plenty of time where I’ve just felt bored. Boredom can be a good thing, especially for kids, and it’s certainly pushed me to check out places I hadn’t been before and do some things spontaneously that I likely wouldn’t have had the energy for in a more scheduled day. pool

(I’m aware there’s a great deal of privilege in how my summer is playing out. I have the advantage of a salary spread out over 12 months and an employed spouse. I have the advantage of not needing to work at a physically demanding job at the end of pregnancy.)

One of the great gifts and challenges of this summer is the reminder of how much I love and miss work, specifically paid employment. I suspect this feeling will continue into the early part of the fall. We’re expecting a baby any day now, and I’ll be taking a couple months off at the beginning of the school year. (No, seriously, baby, any day, given that your estimated arrival date was last Tuesday.) It’ll be the first time in 30 years that August has not included a return to school for me. I’m sure there will be challenges with going back to teaching come October, but I’m really looking forward to a classroom, students, and a schedule again.

Cinnamon fully embraces the boredom of summer

Cinnamon fully embraces the boredom of summer

Relax

This morning, Matt tweeted out an article about the relative stress levels of different professions. He noted that teachers were in the top five and encouraged educators to relax over the summer.

I retweeted the article after I read it. But after I did, I realized I struggle with what relaxing means. Today, for example, I read one book and got through a good chunk of another. I walked to a restaurant about 1.5 miles from my house and had lunch. I took a nap and bought some school supplies. I watched a documentary. I imagine that kind of day might be some people’s dream, but at the end of the day, I’m feeling gross and unfocused.

I’ve taken a little good-natured ribbing recently because I’ve got a fair amount on my plate this summer, but I’m not sure how to do things differently or if I’d want to. I certainly can get over-committed during the school year, but I feel equally daunted by the free time of the summer.

How do you relax without feeling like you’re wallowing?