The Importance of Rest: Hooray for Monday

December 21, 2020
By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching

Hooray for Monday is a weekly blog filled with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students. 

For those of us whose professional lives involve doing serious work, like teaching children, a vacation is a sacred thing. Whether or not it is sacred because we celebrate a religious or spiritual holiday, vacation is sacred because it is time away from work. And even those of us who love our work benefit from making time to rest.

According to Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson, authors of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, if we want to develop resilience, we need the opportunity to be stressed and experience challenge (check!), and also the opportunity to recover. Even our muscles know this, as rest allows muscles to repair and heal after strenuous exercise, and prepares them for additional growth during the next workout.

Vacation offers time for rest and offers us more say in how we spend our time. And just as we are intentional in the way we structure our teaching time with our students, we can be intentional in how we choose to rest. Binge-watching Say Yes to the Dress, sleeping late, going for long walks, reading a wonderful (or ridiculous) novel, singing multiple songs in the shower, doing Zoom calls with friends or family with no agenda other than to say hello, spending time alone… All of these are ways we can choose to rest.

Especially in this year when so much has been out of our control, making choices about how we want to spend our time can be rejuvenating in itself. If you live with young children or elders or others who require constant care, you may not get to choose to spend much time alone. But you can choose what to do at least some of the time with the people in your life. You can choose to bake and eat your favorite cookies together. You can choose to put on old records that make everyone feel good. To listen fully to the stories your family members want to tell. To play poker or bridge, or even Go Fish! To stand in front of the toaster oven together for a full 3 minutes watching the cheese melt on your grilled cheese sandwich. To do an online yoga class together. To commit to telling each other a joke a day.

You can also make the intentional choice to waste time – as in I am committing myself to accomplish absolutely nothing for the next 60 minutes (or 5 minutes, or 6 hours, or 2 days…).

Of course, many of us will need to use our vacation time to catch up on work, try to get through our inboxes, take care of household chores, meet the needs of family members, and more. But setting an intention to choose some time to rest our minds and bodies deserves a place on our vacation to-do lists.

Rest well. Refuel. And I hope you feel the gratitude from me, and from the many students, parents, and others whose lives you have enriched during this deeply unusual fall semester.

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