Six tips for the last day of the Christmas holidays

We've binged on Netflix – and chocolate – and now the holiday is almost over. But 'almost' is the key word here, says Haili Hughes
2nd January 2021, 11:43pm
Haili Hughes

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Six tips for the last day of the Christmas holidays

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/six-tips-last-day-christmas-holidays
Overhead Shot Of Woman, Sitting On Sofa With A Book, A Glass Of Wine, & A Blanket Over Her Legs

It is fair to say that last term was a term like no other. Although teaching is always exhausting, teachers were staggering to the finishing line this Christmas like never before. 

But now we have binged the shows on Netflix and eaten our body weight in turkey and chocolate, and the new term is almost upon us. Before we know it, we'll be back to work again - whatever form that ends up taking. 

How will you be spending your last day of freedom? Here are six things all teachers should consider doing the day before term starts…

1. Duvet days

There is nothing quite like a duvet day. And for those of us who have been shivering in our cold classrooms, forced to leave the windows open in freezing cold weather for the last few months, the warmth of cosy bed seems almost decadent. 

For me, a day of pure bliss would be to lounge in my bed reading a book, uninterrupted by the call of "Miss!" 

However, many teachers - including me - have their own children at home. For us, this type of rest and relaxation is a halcyon dream. Still, the least we can do is make sure we enjoy that last day of not being rudely awakened by the alarm clock - all too soon, its familiar beeping will once more become the soundtrack to your morning. 

2. Enjoy the great outdoors 

This time of year can be particularly gloomy, as we never seem to see any daylight. It is pitch black when we arrive at school, and then dark again when we are leaving.

For many, the days are illuminated by artificial light, and the only taste we get of natural light is a break or lunch duty, punctuated by the screams of students. 

So, now you have the opportunity, breathe. The weather may be frightful, but the countryside is sure delightful…get your wellies and coat on and go for a walk. There is nothing quite like standing on top of a hill or wandering through a forest to put problems into perspective. 

3. Pyjamas

Covid-19 has certainly not been good for my waistline: what with stress-eating and my yoga class closing, I have been squeezing myself into my work trousers for the last few months as it is. 

Alas, after inhaling Ferrero Rocher for the last fortnight, I fear I may need to move a button. Enter the humble pyjama. 

There is a lot to be said for the expandable waistband, and I think my post-Christmas body may be a little bit in love with elastic. So much so, in fact, that I intend to waft around in pyjamas all day, before forcing myself into my work clothing again on Monday.

4. Channelling your inner Delia

One of the great things about school holidays is the time to cook and eat proper meals. 

If you are anything like me, dinners during the week are rushed affairs, scoffed down between getting the older children ready for rugby and football practice and bath time for the toddler. 

To get ahead, having taken inspiration from some teachers on Twitter, I will be having a go at batch cooking. For a few hours' work, dinners for the next week at least will be nutritious and quick. I know that my harassed, first-week-back self will be exceedingly thankful. 

5. Reality bites

With the last-minute announcement that pupils in secondary schools will now be having a staggered start to the spring term, secondary teachers up and down England will be spending part of their last day of freedom making video lessons or planning remote-learning materials for their students in Years 7 to 10. I will be doing mine with a Baileys in hand, to keep the festive spirit alive. 

6. Family: make the most of it

Some teachers, particularly those in the South, may have been alone over Christmas:  cut off from family or their usual support networks. 

Like many teachers, all that was keeping me going through the 15-hour days and stressful situation of bubbles repeatedly bursting was the thought of seeing my family over the five-day Christmas period. When that was snatched away, I had a little cry.

But I do realise how lucky I am. I got to spend Christmas with my wonderful husband and children, while many may have had to spend it alone. 

Like many teachers, during termtime I have been guilty of waiting for my children to go to bed, so that I can boot up my laptop. Over the next few days, I will be squeezing my children a little tighter, taking the time to play with them and enjoy their company. 

These moments of peace will help to get me through the term ahead, and no doubt deal with the tough challenges that lie ahead. 

Haili Hughes is an English teacher at Saddleworth School in Oldham, Greater Manchester. She tweets @HughesHaili

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