Respect contributes to creating the safe, welcoming space our students–and teachers—need. But it’s also a word we need to take to heart for us. Now that so many are on break, it’s time to give ourselves the gift of respect. What does that look like? To help you–and me—not lose this precious downtime to the holiday scramble, I have devised an acronym to remind us of some important things we need to do for us.
The seven steps that spell out RESPECT are not meant to go in any particular order. We just need to be mindful of all of them, so we don’t drop any out. Here is how I plan to RESPECT myself, and I hope you do the same.
R is for Read, Relax, Rejuvenate
I cheated here with three words, but they are all related. As librarians, we always read, but much of it is for the job. Now is the time to read for yourself. Start digging into the books on your night table. Give yourself time to read what you want to read. Immerse yourself in some other. Relax means allowing yourself to sleep late, stay up late watching a television show, or binge watch something you haven’t had time to see. Permit yourself this free time without fretting about what you could be doing that is more productive. Rejuvenate is about doing something that gets you excited again about your job. This maybe the time to listen to an archived webinar you haven’t had the time to get to or check out a Twitter Chat. Perhaps you might contribute to a thread on your PLN.
Be fully present with your family and friends. Too often, our minds our only half there when we are with our family. We are busy thinking of what we have to do the next. We are missing the most important moments in our lives and that drains us, making us less enthusiastic (another “E” word) about our jobs. Listen to what others are saying without thinking about your response or anything else. It’s good practice for your job, and it helps build relationships at home. We count on our families to love and understand us, but if we always put our work first, we lose an important part of who we are. Now is the time to rebuild those connections and hopefully continue it throughout the year.
S is for Self-Care
Much has been written about this. It’s part of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), but we have a tendency to overlook it. Take time to pamper yourself. Get a massage or facial. Take a walk (one of my favorites). Buy yourself flowers for your office. Go to a favorite store, whether it’s for stationery, crafts, or clothes, and buy something just for you. See a movie. And yes, reading falls into this category for a lot of us.
Do this early or late in your vacation so you don’t have to think about it at other times. Reflect (yup, another “R” word) on how your school year has been going. What worked? What could have been done better? What isn’t working at all? What can you differently? Where do you want to take the library program next? You have some time during vacation to create a plan that will power your program for the rest of the school year. Give yourself a specific time to do this so it’s not on your mind for your whole break.
How many of you eat lunch every day? So many of us grab something -or skip it- because we have a class to teach. Holidays may not be the best time for healthy eating, but it’s worth trying to incorporate getting enough fruits and vegetables into your diet, hydrating, and not going much over three hours without eating. Of course, it can also include eating out at a special restaurant, which means it doubles as self-care.
Acknowledge yourself. Write down all your accomplishments. Include small successes such as a students thanking you for a book you found for them. Glory in the big successes—those programs the kids loved and which attracted attention. Did you finally get a teacher who was a holdout to collaborate with you? Did the principal make a positive comment on your program? If you don’t write them down and take time to recall them, they will slip away. You will be a better leader and librarian if you make time to celebrate your achievements.
T is for Try Something New
This is a good time to explore (another E word) a new hobby or a variant on one you have. Look for an exercise you might like and therefore enjoy doing regularly. Maybe it’s time for a new recipe or to check out a video game recommended by your students. We’re lifelong learners too.
Give yourself the RESPECT you deserve. Reflect and act on your priorities. Enjoy your time off fully. Socialize with friends and family. Be positive about yourself and your accomplishments. Explore new possibilities. Connect with others – consider sending snail mail messages. Thank those who have helped you grow and learn.