20 ways to enjoy the summer holidays

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Get September sorted and the rest will take care of itself, writes Andy Stanley

1 CLEAN UP YOUR ACT

The school will be subjected to a "deep clean" and minor premises works over the summer. You don't want to get back to find your stuff moved, painted or dumped in a skip, so keep it secure. Your cleaners are a valuable part of the school - ask what would help them, and buy them some chocolates.

2 BE PREPARED

Get your preparation done before the holiday starts, even if you're tired, then it won't hang over you. Badger colleagues into co-operating. If necessary, come in during the first days of the break. Ask the caretaker when the building is open (and which doors) and ask to be let in.

3 EARN SOME CASH

You're probably in debt and it isn't ideal because you need the rest, but many of us have subsidised our teaching salaries by working in the summer. If you do, plan a block of work rather than a few days a week over the whole time. There will be teacher-related jobs such as summer play schemes, but the pay is poor. Temp in an office for real money.

Stop when you have enough for a holiday.

4 VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME

If you have no money, try a working holiday. The National Trust runs hundreds in the UK, and there are lots of volunteering opportunities abroad where your teaching skills will be welcomed: www.nationaltrust.org.ukvolunteeringworkinghols.asp, or www.i-to-i.com

5 SECURE YOUR FUTURE

You won't because you are young, immortal and need to enjoy life, but you will still be dithering at 55. You are going to have to work until you are at least 65 and you won't be able to get your pension before then without it being savagely reduced. At the moment, the average male teacher retires on Pounds 11,851 a year and the average female on pound;6,933. For advice call 08080 133133 and start planning: www.teachers-group.co.uk

6 SORT YOUR FINANCES

You probably never know what goes in and out of your account, so set up internet banking where you can check your balance regularly and set up standing orders and direct debits at will. Don't let your credit cards get out of control. Look for 0 per cent deals and move balances around. If you're bad with money, visit www.moneysavingexpert.com

and click on the "Budgeting" tab to download a user-friendly budget planning spreadsheet, then sign up for the weekly updates on deals.

7 BRING HOME THE GROCERIES

If you hate shopping, do it online. The first few times take as long as walking round the supermarket, but once all your usual stuff is saved on your account, it gets quicker. You'll spend less on take-aways too as the groceries will turn up every week.

8 DO THOSE SMALL FIX-IT JOBS

Holidays are the time for DIY. But think before you attempt anything - a floorboard may squeak and just need a nail banged into it, but there may be a water pipe or gas pipe underneath, so ask your neighbours if they know a reliable plumber, electrician, and so on, for emergencies. Never go to a DIY superstore if you need to do something difficult. Go to one of those intimidating little DIY shops where, although you will be patronised by the blokes in brown coats, you will get good advice. Tool hire shops are great. Don't struggle with bare hands.

9 KEEP OFF THE GRASS

If you like gardening you'll be out there anyway.

Otherwise, sod the flowers and flame everything to the ground so there's nothing to do until next spring. Chainsaws, rotivators, trimmers and so on can be hired and one day is all it takes to flatten an average garden.

There will then be space to sit in untroubled by bees and stinging insects if the sun comes out.

10 A NOVEL IDEA

You probably haven't read a book since last summer, and if English is your specialism you'll be feeling guilty, but don't launch into Turgenev or Trollope immediately. Build up to them with trashy novels, and with luck the summer will be over before you have to read a serious book.

11 SLIP, SLAP, SLOP

If the garden, book and weather are sorted, get a tan.

Forget about malignant melanomas, the restorative effects of sitting in the sun with a cool beer after a long hard term can't be underestimated. Slap on something with a factor in double figures and relax.

12 BUFF UP

Perhaps you're a gym junkie, but if not, the summer is a good time to get fit without stumping up membership fees. Get out on your bike, go to the swimming pool or do brisk walking for 10 minutes. When the weather gets cold, you may have got the exercise bug sufficiently to join a gym.

13 EAT WELL, FAT CHANCE

It's the holidays so you have time to cook. Look for healthy recipes, especially ones to see you through next term so you don't have to resort to fat and salt-laden ready meals. Forget Jamie and Delia.

Buy Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food. Every recipe takes less than 30 minutes from walking through the door to first mouthful.

14 REKINDLE YOUR LOVE LIFE

A few weeks into the holiday, you may have become human. Look around - is there someone in the house who seems to be sharing a bed with you? If so, get reacquainted and have great times together. If not, a few weeks away should have turned you from a stressed control freak to warm, desirable potential partner material.

15 BECOME A DAY TRIPPER

It's easy to vegetate at home, especially if you have a working partner, but don't feel you ought to cook dinner.

Investigate your neighbourhood and beyond. Shops, castles, cathedrals, gardens, galleriesI

16 GO OUT AND SOCIALISE

You probably have parents, grandparents and other relatives who may like to see you. Assuming this can't be put off, put aside a few days to do them all at once. If you're dreading a family Christmas, now is the time to spend an extra day or two with them and break the news. Similarly, visit your friends, or at least the ones worth keeping that you may have neglected by being too tired.

17 CONTEMPLATE YOUR CAREER

If you've had enough and don't see yourself staying in the profession, the summer is the time for looking for an alternative career. Your old university careers section will help and the net is full of resources. Browse the postgraduate course offers, or look at the Open University.

18 TEACH ANOTHER LANGUAGE

Get some teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) experience and a certificate, then try out some English teaching at a summer school. The students will be well-motivated and a pleasure to teach, and there is often a social life attached. This isn't always well paid, but it could be the start of something that will enable you to travel round the world.

19 TAKE A BREAK

Obvious really - beg, steal and borrow to get away. If you can, book the holiday for when the A-level and GCSE results come out so you can't be emotionally blackmailed into going in for results day.

20 LOOK FOR A JOB SWAP WHILE YOU'RE AWAY

If your holiday is abroad, investigate job and house-swapping possibilities, then this time next year you may be planning for 12 months tossing prawns on the barbie while some unsuspecting Aussie shivers in your flat.

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