The 10 Stages of School Vacation for a Teacher/ Parent

Vacation. Such a beautiful word to the school teacher. Such a necessary word. I often hear jokes about how we “Are always on vacation” and “Must be nice to have paid vacations all the time” or something like that. It’s funny- really it is. It makes me laugh deep down inside. Or maybe I’m laughing at the idea of karate chopping your throat, Melissa McCarthy style. Anyway. Either way, I laugh.

So, here I am, the Sunday before school is scheduled to start back and I’m thinking to myself, Holy crap I didn’t do everything on my list and I start berating myself for not being more proactive and working during my ‘vacation’. Procrastination has snuck up and hit me square in the forehead, much like when you attempt to walk through a freshly cleaned, glass sliding door. And it hurts.

So yeah, Sunday. I have dishes to do, lunches to prep for the week, and all I can do is sit on my unshowered rear telling you all about what vacations are like for a teacher (procrastination at its best). In my defense, though, I had “Write two blogs” on my to-do list. So, technically I’m doing what I should, right? So, here are the 10 stages of vacation for a teacher/ parent.

Stage 1- Pre-Vacation Planning- This stage may not be considered a stage to some, but to me it is. This stage usually starts two weeks before vacation starts. It’s when you start making a mental to-do list. You say to yourself, “I can do this during vacation! Yes, I will run every day, meet up with my best/ worst friend Jillian Michaels and enjoy/ dread our love/ hate relationship. I will do that and I will work on these projects I’m putting off. I will do this then. Yes vacation- I will be productive.”


Stage 2- Pure euphoria- You know that moment when the stars align and everything goes your way? Picture being 13. Picture dreading the big test scheduled for the next day. Picture yourself falling asleep studying and waking up in a fervor, realizing you are going to be late. Then, imagine your mom walking in and saying, “Snow day!” or “The sewer pipeline exploded, no school today” or something like that. Remember that feeling? That’s the feeling of the first day of vacation. Pure, unadulterated euphoria.


Stage 3- Planning- The most important stage, if you ask me. This is when you make your to-do list. Mine was 27 items long. 20 were things for school, which a few branched off into multiple items. 7 were things for home. 0 were for me. Okay, maybe the blogging item was for me, but still. I’m not complaining, I enjoy helping others. But people’s image of blissfully sitting home, sipping coffee, reading books, and watching Netflix is not reality of a teacher/ parent vacation. Maybe you attempt it one day, but then your kids start fighting, the cat starts puking, and your husband starts vacuuming. Talk about a mood ruiner. Anyway. This stage proves to show you how much you actually could accomplish if you put your mind to it.


Stage 4- I have plenty of time- This is the trickiest part of the 10 stages. This is the stage that gets me. Every. Time. This is the stage that will make you think something that is not entirely true. It usually sets in on day two of vacation. Day one you chill, because you can. You also make your list and stuff. Day 2 makes or breaks you. If you do not attempt to tackle items on your list, your whole vacation will be shot. It will actually be a vacation filled with self- hate and guilt for not using every waking minute to get stuff done. Anyway- this stage makes you feel like vacation is equivalent to eternity and your to-do list is still doable to its entirety. It says to you, “You can start on this tomorrow.” (Please see the glass door metaphor from above.)


Stage 5- Pride- This is when you decide that you probably should do a few things on your list to get it done early. Yes, that’s it. You’re going to tackle your list so that you can rest and relax the final days- no stress before school starts for this teacher/ parent. So, you tell your kids, “I’m putting on a movie so mommy can do some work,” and your husband, “I have shit to do, don’t bother me.” So, you look at your list and tackle a few items for school. You are on top of the world. You feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment. You think I’m going to make this vacation my b. Yes, I’m a teaching rockstar. I’m incredible.


Stage 6- Self-deprivation- This is when you decide that you’re on such a roll that you can take a break. A vacation from your vacation. This is usually Tuesday/ Wednesday. You decide to be a mom and housewife. You don’t need to always do school work, there’s more to life than your job. You attack 3 or so items from your home to-do list. You cook, do dishes, make baby food, etc. Your laptop is dead and that’s okay. You even avoid Pinterest so you don’t try to do things for school.


Stage 7- The classroom visit- If this stage happens before Wednesday, it’s just as dangerous. If you visit your classroom too early, you may decide that you have “Plenty of time” (see step 4). If you visit around this time, it’s still pretty dangerous because you add (YES ADD) things to your list. You went to school with the intention of knocking 3-4 items off and leave with 11 more than you went with. And you just cleaned. Shit, forgot to put ‘clean classroom’ on my list again.


Stage 8- Defeat- This is where teacher/ parents start getting sad. You realize that you’ve been defeated. This vacation actually made you its b. You did not do half of what you wanted to and you will not be ready. Therefore:


Stage 9- Screw it- This is when you spend your last Saturday watching movies (or high school basketball) because, after all, you won’t get it all done so what’s the point? You don’t even clean. You’re in a teacher depression. You’ve lost all want to live and perform tasks. You just want to be. You don’t bother even trying to grade anything or plan anything because it’s over. It’s all over.


Stage 10- Scrambling- This stage usually hits around 7 PM on Sunday night (Note: I’m not there yet, but I know it’s coming). You usually spend the time between stage 9 and 10 cleaning your house or cooking or blogging because you know you aren’t as good as you think you are. You just want to get the bare minimum done so when stage 10 hits you’re ready. Scrambling looks like this: Flesh out a couple days of plans, make your seating plan, to-do list your planning period, pack lunches, etc. This stage lasts until 8 AM Monday morning because you don’t finish Sunday night and you set your alarm to wake up at 3 AM on Monday morning. But you snooze it until 5 because lunches are already packed and you have plenty of time. Then you rush out the door, get to school by 7:30 AM and have to hurry and copy everything you added to your plans the night before. Your vacation is officially over. Stage 10 brings on reality.

This my friends is what vacation is like for me as a teacher/ parent. It’s currently 10:30 AM and I will ride the transition between 9 and 10 knowing that tomorrow is inevitable. Unless I get a cold *Cough, Cough*.


Claire Pelletier

About Claire Pelletier

I'm 30. Boy am I 30. I have three children: Shelby (almost 8), Harper (3), and Aidan (1). I work full time as an English teacher, full time as a mom, part time as a wife, part time as a cook at a Diner (this is actually a paid position), and a per diem house cleaner. Basically, I do it all. Oh and I like to write (revert back to my full time teaching position). This life is crazy, people are even crazier, and online blogging has given me a voice. Some may think it's a loud and obnoxious voice, but I kind of like it. I do my best to write about things that interest people, mainly about myself. Sometimes I verge into the political land, but that place scares me, so I mostly write about every day things that make me laugh, cry, or scream. Thanks for reading!