With two small boys, my summer is full before it has even started, six weeks packed with trains, Mr Tumble at festivals and splashing in the sand. Finding time for having a BBQ with my department is proving a struggle, as I only have five days out of 6 weeks unplanned.
But it wasn't always like this before toddler I was occasionally bored over the summer. My husband and friends were working, and after planning lessons, I had long days to while away.
Here are ten things to do with those 6 (gloriously) long weeks...
1 - Travel
This is an obvious one, but if you didn't take a gap year and go inter-railing, then this is the perfect chance. Especially if you're single and childfree. Run away from the day-to-day life for a few weeks (what another career can you do this with!?!) If not, pop that toddler on a train or the baby in the sling and visit Paris for the day. Or visit any other European city for overnight. If your toddler is like mine, they will love the train/ aeroplane more then the city, and you can enjoy the culture for a few hours. Take the chance when you can, and please post the photos so I can live vicariously!
2 - Christmas Shopping
Yeah, I know it's four months away, but there are good reasons this should be near the top of your list. You have a lot of time over the summer, so you can think about the perfect gift and find it at the best price. If you leave it until December, you'll be facing a (potentially) massive task at the end of the darkest term. You'll be tired and not have the time. Getting it done in August, saves you the hassle in December.
3 - Get pregnant
This involves a bit of planning, but the summer is a great time. If you're lucky enough to get pregnant naturally then having some of those precious first 12 weeks at home in a stress-free environment would be a blessing. If the worst happens and the pregnancy doesn't make it past the first few weeks, then you can deal with it without hoards of teenagers or clutches of toddlers.
We planned all my IVF treatments for the summer for some reasons. A significant amount of nasty drugs turn me into a massive bitch; I'm not a nice person to be around, so it best for my colleagues and students that I'm at home. You need to visit the clinic a lot, my HoD would freak if I needed every other afternoon off for two weeks, but that's what happens with the monitoring schedule. It's uncomfortable; the drugs make me bloat like a water balloon. The idea of putting on heels and a shift dress and walking around a classroom for 5 hours is not appealing, sitting on the sofa watching a box set in pjs is. And when it doesn't work, I'd rather have the time at home to cope, rather than facing bottom set the next morning.
4 - Festivals
The big ones are obvious. But throughout the summer there are thousands of tiny, small, start-up festivals. I have been to many, many festivals and the best was one organised by my friend. Berrylands only ran for one year and didn't have any headliners, but it was an awesome weekend. Godstonebury is so much fun. Beer festivals, book festivals or youth festivals, all are fantastic days out! This year we're taking the toddler to Standon Calling, a small festival but with an amazing atmosphere. You don't need to spend a lot of money to go to the big festivals to have a fantastic time.
5 - City breaks on the cheap
While university students are on holiday universities, let out their accommodation on the cheap. You can get en-suite accommodation in major cities for many lessons than any hotel. They are generally centrally located, have parking and are well serviced by public transport. I have been back to stay on campus at the University of Bath several times, it revived youthful feelings, and my husband had to endure being dragged around every corner of campus. Only the arrival of the toddler meant the last time we stayed at the Hilton.
6 - Booktube-a-thon
Ok, maybe you don't want to sign up to an online book reading challenge but that pile of books isn't going to read itself, and please don't read just teaching books! I like to have a mix of teaching books, books I want to learn and books I can talk to my students about. I maintain an ever-growing bookshelf in my classroom, I teach science, but I still think it necessary to encourage a love of reading in students. Finding a connection with students over reading books (most recently Looking For Alaska) can make teaching them much more manageable. It helps students see you as a multidimensional person, they are always astonished to learn I love reading books ", but you're a science teacher!"
7 - Your closest city
I feel privileged to live close to London and Cambridge (90 minutes to either city), and both have so many things to visit. These both (and other cities) have loads of big and small attractions that you haven't visited. My favourite place in London is the South Bank and on it the Dali museum. The magnificent pieces the museum holds are not something my toddler (or husband) would be interested in, but I try and visit as often as possible. The toddler has been pushed around walking tours of London and colleges of Cambridge. I've enjoyed a day out, and he liked the trains!
8 - Return all those missed calls
Do remember those people you used to spend a lot of time with? Before the term started? Well, they would love to hear from you! In this first couple of weeks of the summer I've seen my BFF 5 times, my parents three times and next week I'm lunching in London with uni friends twice! These are things I don't have the time or energy to do during term time. Today I sat in my parents garden and drank tea for 4 hours; it was delightful! No stress, no pressure just sitting and drinking tea!
9 - Write worksheets
This is fun masquerading as work, as I chased the toddler through the Natural History Museum I had half a thought that the Earth exhibit fits well with the GCSE spec. I would LOVE to have the time to wander around a museum and write an excellent workbook for a trip. I accept this may just be me because I love writing worksheets! My year 8 class were overjoyed when I pulled out Ice Age 2: The Meltdown at the end of a topic, that delight didn't last very long once I started handing out the detailed worksheet with questions on. Over the course of the 91 minutes, they generally write about two pages including food webs, animal adaptations and the impact of climate change on endangered species. These lessons required more time planning than normal ones (you have to watch the whole film or spend a day at the museum) but are excellent lessons!
10 - That kitchen...
I have just finished this task (4 weeks in) but all my kitchen cupboard are clean and fish, sorted and organised. It's a good feeling! Meal planning, shopping lists and packing the freezer. At the start of the Autumn term, I like to have all my lessons planned until Christmas and my meals planned until half term.