The best way to prepare for a new term? Do naff all

Like many teachers, Sarah Simons had a long to-do list for the holidays – and not ticking anything off has been blissful

Teacher summer holidays: I haven't ticked anything off my holiday to-do list - maybe that's why it's been lovely, writes Sarah Simons

How can it be back-to-work time? Surely it’s only been 10 minutes since I slammed my lanyard in a drawer and hollered “Yippee ki yay, mother chuffers!” Obviously, I'm regretting that now, as I waste hours ferreting around my nooks and crannies for the safe place where said lanyard is stored.

It’s been an odd summer, but a wonderful one nonetheless. We haven't had a family holiday and I've been semi-working throughout all of it – teaching a bit, writing a bit, answering emails a bit.


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However, the reason why this has been a landmark summer is the family’s new addition, Walter the enormous rescue hound. He’s a huge dogly jumble of saluki, greyhound, maybe a bit great Dane. Like Roger Moore, he has matinee idol looks, a languid manner and a mischievous curiosity. Unlike Roger Moore (or sadly any of the James Bonds), he hops into bed for a cuddle every morning at sunrise, with Betty the Whippet swiftly following suit. It’s a lovely morning heap of Simons Family – I believe my husband is in there somewhere, too. 

One teacher's summer holiday not-to-do list

As gorgeous as this summer has been, I've been somewhat distracted, and, as a result, I've achieved shit-all of my pre-hol plans. Nothing’s been crossed off my self-consciously-self-caring-yet-ever-so-productive lovely things-to-do list:

1. I haven’t been wild swimming

In theory, I would love to join the trend for swimming in open water. From what I've seen on social media, it looks like an unparalleled act of floaty, invigorating freedom.

In practice, the thought of being so close to nature that one might swallow it fills me with terror. What if in my quest for wellbeing I happened up on a dead body, or a massive floating poo? As a compromise, I bought a paddling pool for the new dog. Turns out he’s not keen either.

2. I haven't Marie Kondo-ed my house

For the uninitiated, Marie Kondo is a cleaning consultant (yes, that is a real job) and author of the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She also has a show on Netflix where she pops round folks' houses and tries not to say "the state of that!". She is so genuinely charming, though, that nobody seems to notice that the suggestion is they're a bunch of filthy hoarding pigs.

The idea is that you've to root through your piles of clutter and ask yourself if each item sparks joy. If it doesn't then you sling it.

My bathroom sparks irritation at best, so after threatening to get it sorted for over a decade, we’ve finally got cracking. While the construction lads have been brilliant, the toilet-less fortnight has been less so. 

Attempting to solve the problem, I rented temporary facilities. I thought the Portaloo would be delivered discreetly round the back of the house. Oh no. Of course not. I returned from the shops only to find an enormous plastic Tardis-like lavatory (The Turdis) plonked right in the middle of my front drive. I’ve never before been able to alert all our neighbours to my digestive regularity. That is no longer the case.

I’ve been trying to frame it as a musicless festival, every time I nip for a late-night widdle, clutching a torch. But alas, that’s a bright-side-stretch too far. And my house is still a right tip.

3. I haven't become an exercise enthusiast

History, as well as my size 22 frame, should have given me a clue that I might not be naturally inclined to shift off the sofa and move my fat arse. So why on earth would my love for sitting still while necking a bun change just because it’s the hols?

I knew this summer plan would be a stretch, so up front, I shifted the goalposts to accommodate. I enjoy yoga, and though I am orb-like in proportions I am ever so stretchy. Plus there’s quite a lot of sitting. So I planned to do yoga at my local gym four times a week. And I did. For a week.

The goalposts have now been shifted so far that you'd need to use a panorama shot to take a snap of them both. This one hasn't been a total failure, though, as I've attended once or twice a week, every week. And if I can't be arsed I can just have a lie down and take deep breaths. Apparently that’s yoga, too. 

4. I haven't immersed myself in a hobby

I friggin’ love a hobby. Making something, learning something, experiencing something. I’m hugely inspired by pal Sarah Ledger, who first conquered a daily sourdough bread baking routine, and now, like Bob Marley, she’s jammin’.

I intended to bake show-stopping cakes, or crochet fancy little cushions, or run up a couple of lovely frocks. Oh, the satisfaction of the home-made. Obviously, it didn't happen. I might just lower my expectations and pop napping down as my number one hobby. I'm excellent at that.

Other things I haven't achieved over the summer

  • Reading The Handmaids’ Tale.
  • Volunteering for a charity supporting homeless people.
  • Learning sign language.
  • Writing a novel, film or TV show.
  • Losing six stone.
  • Protesting about something.
  • Watching all of Hitchcock’s films.
  • Making the most of the city where I live.
  • Getting the hang of meditation.
  • Visiting a National Trust property.

Nah, mate. I've done naff all. It’s been lovely.

Sarah Simons works in colleges and adult community education in the East Midlands and is the director of UKFEchat. She tweets @MrsSarahSimons

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