Here Comes the Summer! Achieving a good work/life balance!


Well time is almost upon us. The time when I drive home from work with the car windows rolled down and the effervescent tones of Feargal Sharkey blasting out a classic from July 1979 “Here Comes the Summer!” I know most people opt for Alice Cooper and ‘School’s Out!’ but due to the fact I left School in ’79’ I’m an Undertones man all the way!

(Check out the YouTube clip at the bottom of the page)

Yes, my friends it’s the School Holidays! The Big Holidays! The Six Weeks Holiday! The holidays that all your non-teaching friends really hate! The one holiday they all despise you having! (I know that our friends in Australia and NZ feel this feeling later in the year.)

Little do your friends know, or even care, that by the time the holiday arrives you are physically, mentally and spiritually on your knees; especially for the first two weeks anyway. You and I know the pattern:
Two weeks to recover and become human again.
Two weeks going on holiday (if you’re lucky and can afford it)
Two weeks to prepare physically and mentally for the next term!
Yeah we really have a great time during our SIX weeks off – don’t we?

The purpose of this week’s blog is not really to really inspire or encourage but mainly to share how the Thought Weavers spend their ‘Big Holidays. Hopefully some of you will share your holiday experiences with us. Also we could explore some of the ways that we seek and find that elusive Holy Grail AKA ‘Work life Balance.’

The first thing to try and remember is that we are on holiday and school MUST come second place. As my wife once said “David it’s great being everything to everybody else’s children but remember you have two of your own!” Partners know instinctively how to make you feel special – don’t they?

So here goes with our ‘Thought Weaver Tips’ for the holiday season.

Now some of you may scoff at planning your time off but hear me out! Most of us are slaves to the clock/time table for 10 months of the year. For example I know exactly what I’ll be doing on the third Tuesday in June 2012 at precisely 1.30pm; my class and I will be having PE, Friday afternoon its Guitars, Monday morning Maths and the list goes on!

As teachers/lead learners we have come to accept that this is our lives (sadly) and therefore during the holiday period many of us like to go off-piste so to speak! However, the new found freedom that we all experience can cause some of us to become lethargic; we can waste precious hours on basically doing nothing. So often I hear my colleagues say, “I’ve been off for three weeks and I haven’t done a thing!” This may cause us to become a little resentful. Our suggestion is to have a basic outline of things that you wish to achieve whilst your off work, this can be as simple as fetching the newspaper, go shopping, visit the pub (visit lots of pubs) at least we’re doing something positive!

Holiday time is a great time to catch up with family and friends that we haven’t seen for a term or two. We could meet up and have a coffee, a beer (lots of beers), BBQ etc.

Last year Lee, my son Leo, and I caught the train to Manchesterand visited the Lowry Centre. (The home of the Salfordbased painter L.S. Lowry)

Leo loved everything about the trip: the train journey, the big city, the gallery and twelve months later he still talks about it.

Therefore log on to obtain information about your local museums, galleries and places of interest. There will be loads of FREE activities planned for the summer; once again you’ll be super dad/mum and earn Brownie points by the barrow-full.

You MUST have a holiday reading list (It’s the LAW). Whether you opt for sentimental tosh (sadly I love these), or books on special interests; why not try the latest offerings on educational research (Sadly once again a favourite of Lee and I). You may want to read the newspaper or ‘Hello’ magazine it’s up to you. But try and read as it keeps the old cogs of the brain going!

Over the years there have been a wealth of people who tell me they have ‘a book’ lurking inside them – a book they long to write. The holidays are a perfect time to start. I have friends who have spoken about writing a book for nearly twenty years but still they struggle to put pen to paper – don’t talk about it – do it! Here’s a question for you: When do you become old?

“A man is not old until his regrets replace his dreams” John Barrymore

So don’t dilly/dally and your let your dreams become regrets when you are older – get a pack of cheap pencils, a note book, a good coffee shop and the world’s your oyster.

RE-ENACTMENTS: You must have seen the many re-enactment societies that operate the length and breadth of the country? Check out their website: National Association of Re-enactment Societies:


Lee and I are involved within our very own re-enactment society: it involves Rigger boots; trackie bottoms and an old football/rugby shirt and hey presto – we’re builders! Once we break up from school; we have a whole agenda of slab laying; fence erecting, shelf building – our project this August is decking out Lee’s back garden – the point we’re trying to make is that all this work is nothing to do with school/learning; basically it’s a chance to charge up the mental batteries and visit the most exquisite ‘bacon buttie’ suppliers in the land. Why not start your own re-enactment society? You could become a chef; landscaper; train spotter (Lee’s one – but it’s our secret); football coach; tour guide; once again anything that chills you out and recharges the batteries.

Well that’s it for another term! The Thought Weavers will be taking a month’s blogging holiday but we will be back at the end of August with our preparations for the new term.

Thanks for all the tweets; blog hits; comments and words of encouragement over the past few months; we really, really appreciate it.

Best wishes and have a great (relaxing) holiday.

Lee and David (The Thought Weavers)

so take it away Fergal…

‘Sorry this is where you have to pretend there’s a seamless link to the video below – you’ll have to manually click the link – our apologies! – So take it away Fergal…’


5 thoughts on “Here Comes the Summer! Achieving a good work/life balance!

  1. That’s great! I envy you a little right now, but I’ll get my six weeks off in December… I will take your advice then.
    I’m looking forward to you new posts in August.
    Enjoy your holidays!

  2. Happy holidays, gents! You speak wise words; I find it very hard to switch off so perhaps I should plan my time. If Lee’s patio paving goes swimmingly, you’re more than welcome to come and clean my car… 😉

  3. There’s my path you could come and fix too! Have a great summer, I have enjoyed your posts and look forward to your articles next year.

  4. Some wise words here. The 3x2wk pattern is one that I had to smile at because it is the pattern of my working life thus far.

    I’m 55 this summer and am ‘stepping back’ a little in September; reducing my working week by 40%! I still love (nearly) every minute of my working life but the energy levels are sadly not at the level they used to be and I think my children (all 487 of them – with only 2 being fathered by me) deserve me in tip top, firing on all cylinders best; and I just can’t keep that going for 5 days a week now!

    My wife (also a headteacher) retired 2 summers ago. Her body started to start wearing out as well and you can’t really argue about the statistics regarding age of retirement vs longevity. The younger you are when you stop full time work – the longer you live! The current ‘pensions debate’ boild my ****! (calm down, calm down – nearly let the demon out onto his soapbox there)

    Blogging, baking the most amazing cakes in the world, walking our 2 westies, Lily & Rose and ‘pottering about’ has transformed her life and she regularly tells me that she doesn’t know how she managed to work 12 or more hours a day for 34 years herself!

    My summer? Well I’m back into school on Monday and Tuesday to finish stuff off, review the School action plan, chase up the 11 writing scripts that had been so poorly marked that, if it had been one of my staff at school moderation that had marked so poorly, I’d have been pointing them in the direction of our assessment co-ordinator for some extra intensive CPD! Preparing some marketing material for our new venture as a national training school for ECC and specialist PE CPD/Support and arranging a schedule for my caretaker!

    After that? Family, friends, my birthday, 2 weeks in Meloisey with my wife and her sister and husband and a fair bit of eating drinking and slobbing out! Before we know it – we’ll be prepping up for next term!

  5. Two weeks of pottering in the garden, gazing at vegetables and herbaceous borders whilst smoking my pipe… Two weeks in Germany with extended family… Two weeks pottering in the garden once more, reading and writing notes on things. If the weather relents, there may be trips to Southwold and Walberswick. Oh, and boating, my son’s been promised boating. I also hope to get some brickwork done for the new greenhouse. There will be planning and resource making, but after dark.

    Enjoy your summer.

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