As an elementary school music teacher, you deserve an actual break during your summer break. In this episode, we address a common challenge faced by music teachers: the tendency to dive straight into summer tasks instead of taking time to relax and recharge. It’s time to shift that thinking and embrace a more balanced approach. Rather than overwhelming ourselves with a never-ending to-do list, let’s explore the importance of dedicating at least the first month of summer to self-care, rest, and enjoyment. Don’t roll your eyes at me . . . if you have small children at home, I’ve got strategies to help you too.

Join me as we delve into practical strategies for finding relaxation and rediscovering the joy of the summer months. It’s time to compose a summer symphony of rest and rejuvenation.

Follow these simple steps to help you have the best summer ever:

For the first month:

  1. Get caught up on your sleep for the first week
  2. Take time to relax and enjoy your summer for at least 2 weeks (don’t plan, don’t do any projects, don’t follow a schedule)
  3. Put together a to-do list, use a decision matrix, and put together a calendar and do one project a week but not every day. 

What if you have small kiddos at home?

3 Ways to Relax When You Have Littles at Home

  1. Have a book party
  2. Visit the park or another outdoor setting
  3. Get outside
  • Take a walk
  • Set up a slip & slide
  • Get out your tiny pool 

What if you don’t have kids at home?

  1. Learn a new skill
  2. Take some quiet time just for you
  3. Start tiny Exercises


What we talked about:

Kaitlyn Traylor’s Etsy shop

Insight Timer free app for meditation

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You know, I'm the stories that Sing Lady, and that means I'm here to answer all of your questions about how to integrate picture books into your elementary music classroom. So you might have questions like, what kinds of books do I read? Or maybe you're asking what lesson topics do I pair with those books?

Or you might be asking what kind of lesson ideas can I use to tie books into my normal elements of music lessons? Well, Whatever you're asking, you are in luck because this month until June 30th, I am holding a flash sale on my course. Simply Music Skills. This course is designed to teach you what storybooks to use in your music classroom and how to use them.

To teach music skills and so much more, and I am so excited because this course is on sale for over 80% off. You can take advantage of this special offer of over 80% off by going to stories that music skills. Be sure you get to that link as soon as possible so you can take advantage of this special offer.

This podcast is a proud member of the Teach Better Podcast Network. Better today. Better tomorrow and the podcast to get you there. Explore more podcasts at Now let's get onto the episode. It's a happy music teacher.

Are you an elementary music teacher who's frustrated and overwhelmed? I'm Jeanette Shorty, a happy music teacher who loves teaching every day. But it wasn't long ago, I was in your shoes. Join me Wednesdays to help you find happy in your music classroom. It is. Summer for most of you anyway, unless you teach in a country, for example, I know Australia is not out of school.

In fact, they're probably only about mm, halfway through their school year at the very. Most, but for those of us in the US it is summer and probably you're out of school. I've been out of school for about, this is my third week, believe it or not, and I know everybody's sort of on a different schedule. But the point to this is if it's not summer for you yet, it will be summer for you soon.

And here's what I want to tell you, please. Take some time and relax. Do not go full throttle right into everything you need to do. I know you have projects, you're cleaning out your closet, you are cleaning out your refrigerator, wiping it all down. I mean, you've got all of these projects, and I know this because I have them too.

But here's the deal. If you go to my blog post, you will see this week's blog post. You will see some stats about what relaxation does for the brain. So it's really, really important. We are exhausted. It has been a long, hard school year. No matter what your situation is, it has been a long, hard school year for you and.

It's really, really important to take some time and relax. And this is what I've always done, is I usually take, well, to be honest, it takes me at least two weeks to stop falling asleep every time I sit down on the couch. Right? And, and you know this, I read somewhere recently that. The way that a teacher's brain has to work when we are teaching and redirecting and thinking all the things that we have to think and remember is truly more activity than a surgeon when they're performing surgery.

So, And if you don't know this yet, let me tell you, brain activity makes you tired. You could sit all day and never move out of your chair. Not a good idea, by the way, but that's another day. But you could sit all day in your chair and if your brain is working super hard, you are going to be just as tired as if you ran and ran and ran all day long.

So it's really important to. Relax your brain, relax your body. Give yourself some time to kind of ease into the summer. Here's what I'm recommending. These are my three steps, and then I'm gonna get into some how's, because I know some of you're already listening going, um, Jeanette, I've got like a baby at home and I've got a two year old and I've got a 14 year old and I, I don't have time to relax, so, I feel you.

I do. I, I'm not in that space right now. My kiddos are grown and out of the house for, oh my gosh, mine are 28 and 29. My 29 year old, we will be 30 in November. So I'm not in your space. But I remember what it was like to be in your space, and I remember how hard it was to come home after school and be like, oh my gosh, I really wanna spend time with my kiddos and I just don't have it.

So I. This is your time, right? This is your time to do all those projects in your house and do all those projects with your kids and all that kind of stuff. I am going to recommend to you this three step process. First of all, take some time to get your sleeping schedule back in order so. Try and even though it's summer, try, if you wanna stay up a little later, like we've been staying up like an hour later, so instead of going to bed at 10 o'clock, we're going to bed around 11 o'clock.

And we really try hard to always go to bed at the same time. And I know that can be tricky, especially when you have kiddos at home. But if you set up a good schedule for yourself, that's going to help And. Maybe, maybe you spend the first week just getting yourself all like back into sleep mode. Like if you wanna sit down and rest and relax for a few minutes, I'm gonna tell you how to do that even with small kiddos at home.

So, Take some time to get your sleep schedule in order. Take some time to catch up on your sleep. There are people, experts, you know, the experts out there that say, oh, that's not possible. You can't catch up on sleep. I think it is possible. I don't care what anybody says because the first two weeks of summer I always spend catching up on my sleep and then like I can sit down at eight o'clock at night and actually watch a couple of TV shows.

I mean, I can do that and it's amazing because normally I sit down at eight o'clock and I'm falling asleep at like eight 15. It's ridiculous. And I know you're in that. Same space. So take some time, first of all, to get your sleep schedule in order and to just catch up on your sleep. And if you can't catch up on actual sleep, at least do more relaxing than you normally would.

So that is step one, step two, take some time. To relax and enjoy. I know you've got those projects. I really do. But if you take some time to relax, just just take, I'm challenging you. Take two weeks and relax and enjoy your summer for two weeks. Don't follow a schedule. Do whatever your kids want you to do.

If they want you to go out into the yard and play soccer with them, go out into the yard and play soccer with them. I used to do that with my kids all the time. That's why. Uh, and we, we would go into the parking lot cuz I lived in a townhouse and that was hysterical because we would just have this tiny little parking lot.

And we had the goals were the, um, the, the parking spaces and. We would just play and I would trade back and forth between my two boys being on one boy's team, being on the other boys' team. Sometimes they'd be against me, and here was the funniest part. None of us knew the rules. We really just like kicked the ball back and forth, but it was something they wanted to do.

Go out in the rainstorm. I. Have you ever done that with your kids? It's the most fun thing we'd get on our galoshes and our raincoats, and we would go as long as it wasn't thundering, of course, but it rains in South Florida almost every afternoon in the summertime. So we would go out and we would just splash in the puddles.

I mean, you can't imagine how much fun it is for you, let alone for your kiddos. Now if you're not like a person who likes that sort of thing, then you know that might not be. Up your alley. But for me, that was so much fun and I loved watching the Joyful. I love listening to those joyful giggles and watching those smiling faces.

So that is step two. Take some time to relax and just enjoy, even if you're not going on a vacation, do a little staycation and I'm gonna give you some recommendations on that in a little while as well. Step three. Put together a to-do list and make sure that your to-do list does not encompass every single day of your summer.

Because again, you need that relaxation. I know you have projects to do, and if you're like me, the projects are going to it. Completing those projects is gonna make you feel really good. Like I'm already, I'm. Like I said, this is my third week, so this week I've got a project. Every Monday I decided I'm doing a project.

Now I don't have small kids at home, so you know, it's first of all, easy to find a time to do those projects. And second of all, I don't have as many projects as I know you do if you have small kiddos at home because you start, like you have them clean up the playroom and five minutes later the playroom's a disaster again.

So just. Put those projects on your list, but don't do it for the first three weeks. Take that first week to catch up and, and kind of like regroup and, and feel a little more healthy in your brain, healthy in your body. Take the second and third week and just relax. And then week number four, start doing your projects, but don't.

Take a project every single day. You know what, nothing bad is gonna happen. The walls are not gonna fall down around you. If you don't get every project done, then you know you'll have a project for another day. I mean, I know it's stressful to, to have projects that you. Just can't get done. But make a list of them and put the first one, the one that's most important, the one that's been driving you crazy since Christmas time.

And it might be putting away your Christmas decorations. I know how I rolled when I had little kids, so I know, you know, you may be in the same situation, whatever it is. I will tell you, don't let anybody else tell you what to do with your time. I know that sometimes our partners, our spouses, our significant others think, oh, she or he is on vacation.

They are able to do things, so I'm expecting things to get done. Don't let anybody. Tell you what to do with your summer. You make the decisions. I'm telling you, it's not gonna make you feel any better to pay attention to what somebody is telling you that you should do with your summer. Okay, so here are three.

Everything's in threes today. Three things you can do. To help you relax when you have kiddos at home. And the first one that I love to do, loved to do, cuz I have no little kiddos at home anymore. I can't wait to have grandchildren, but someday, um, is a book reading party. So let's say that you need to get.

Um, I don't know, the kitchen cabinet's cleaned out or maybe you need to get your closet cleaned out and that is on your list of things to do. You can have a book reading party with your kiddos and even those kiddos who don't really love to read, if you assign like the bigger kid to read to the smaller kid.

Or maybe you have them each. Like I loved my boys both loved to read. So that was, it was pretty easy for me. But, and this may not work for you at all, but it's a suggestion. So if you have a book reading party, either with your kids or. While you're doing a project, they're doing a book reading party. And what you can do is you can make it kind of a game where each kiddo has their own, um, say chart.

Maybe you do a little chart on a whiteboard and they are reading and you make it a contest. How many books can you read? While mommy finishes her closet, but you have to make sure, I mean, it can't be like I skipped through the pages and bam, it's gone. Right? You have to actually read it. I have to see that you're actually reading it.

So that's one way to do your book reading party. A second way to do your book reading party is, let's say, You've been going, going, going, and you just need a minute, right? So if you sit down with your book, and I do highly recommend if you do cross stitch or you love to craft, or you love to do scrapbooking, or you are really into making t-shirts, whatever it is you sew, whatever it is that helps you relax for me.

It's reading a book. That is my favorite way to relax. So, What I would do is my kiddos eat, had a stack of books and I had my book, and I would set the timer, and it really depends on your kids. And we would say, okay, we're gonna read for 15 minutes. And it's going to be so exciting. Let's see how many books you can get read in 15 minutes.

So that is one thing you can do that is not sticking your kids on a device and not sticking your kids in front of the tv. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't do that. I would never say that because you know what? Sometimes it's, I mean, My kiddos watched a movie probably almost every day. We would have been out, like at the pool or the playground or you know, running, running, running, running.

And they needed kind of a little break. So, and they needed to be in the air conditioning for a little while. Cuz growing up in South Florida, if you've never been there in July and August, it's super humid. Sometimes they need that downtime and. I'm giving you permission. If you wanna put your kiddos in front of a movie for an hour and a half, put your kiddos in front of a movie for an hour and a half.

What I'm saying is this book Reading Party is an option for if you don't want it, let's say they've already watched a movie that day, or you're on like a device free month or something like that. So that's just one option. Second option. I found a visit to the park. One of the most relaxing things I did when I was a mom of little kids, so even when it was hot, I would get, I had one of those little fan thingies that like sprayed you and we would go, I would always invite a friend and.

Nine times outta 10, the friend would come with me. I had a couple friends that somebody would always be free to go and my kiddos would play at the park and I would get, even if it was only, I don't know, 20 minutes, I would get 20 minutes to chitchat with my friend and just relax at the park. So a park visit is a great option.

There are parks everywhere. Everywhere. You just have to find and, and if your kiddos go to the same park all the time. You know, maybe take a little trip down the road and see if you can find a different park that's more of an adventure for them. Number three, get outdoors with your kids. Take a walk or, um, set up like a slip and slide in your yard or, and invite your friend over.

Have, um, either an iced tea, a lemonade, an adult beverage with your friend. Chit chat and let your kiddos play outdoors. We used to have those pools, you know, like the little tiny, um, pool that you buy at Walmart and you fill it up with water. I mean, that would entertain my kids when they were little for hours.

So those are three options. Three things you can do to kind of help your kiddos relax, give you a relaxing break the more you get outside with your kids. The better. Right? And because they're running off steam, the outdoors is really good for them, et cetera, et cetera. What else can you do with your kiddos in the summer?

Now, my kiddos did not like, To go to camp. So we had camp mom and I don't know why they, but they were always like, please, please don't send us to camp. And I know a lot of people really love camp and I don't know why they didn't like camp because they never went to camp. Cuz to be honest, I couldn't afford camp.

So I, I was a single mom and, and I had two children. And, um, you know, the, we won't get into that today, but let's just say. I could not afford camp. So I did camp mom instead. And I had two super, super besties who were, one was the art teacher at my school. The very first school I taught at, and one was the kinder.

Again, a kindergarten teacher happened to be my son, Taylor's kindergarten teacher. And the three of us, our kids were all right around the same ages. So we would get together and every day we did something new. Now in South Florida at that time, Tuesday and Wednesdays, they had free movies. But even if they don't have free movies, you can do a movie day.

And I liked to do it. One of my kiddos, Devin, likes to be very structured, so every day we had something to do, except Fridays was kind of a different day. We wouldn't spend the whole day doing something, but usually, We'd get up in the morning, we'd have a leisurely breakfast, and then we'd go do something.

Monday usually was projects in my house, so that was the day that I would have my book reading party for my kiddos or you know, or maybe whatever. I mean, whatever we did, and I would get a project done and then usually Monday afternoon, I'd take them across the street to the pool. Tuesdays are Wednesdays.

We did free movie day, and if they don't have free movies, Usually they will have very reduced price movies at like 10 in the morning. It was the best thing ever. And I would bring, you know, I brought one of my big bags and I'd bring my own popcorn and I'd bring a soda or a, um, you know, whatever, whatever they were drinking that they loved, a couple juice boxes in my purse, whatever.

So it was, Super cheap Thursday. Usually we got together with friends and we would get together at somebody's house, um, and we'd go to the pool or we'd go to the park or the kids would ride bikes or whatever it happened to be that we did. And then, and this was usually in the morning-ish, sometimes we'd do it around lunchtime, and then Fridays was field trip day.

And on field trip day, we explored like, All the most beautiful places in South Florida. Now, let's say you don't have kiddos at home, so I'm gonna tell you the same three steps catch up on your sleep. Take two weeks and relax and enjoy and don't do any projects. And then set up a calendar for yourself where you, and it feels so good to check those things off your checklist.

So, you know, check, check one or two off every week. And you may not get them all done, but that's okay. So if you don't have kiddos at home, or your kids are bigger, maybe they're driving, you know, that sort of thing. Or maybe they're like, Middle schoolers and they don't really wanna be hanging out with you.

Then you have sort of some different options. So here's what I'm gonna recommend for you. I've got three recommendations. Learn a new something. I recently. Last year really, I learned how to wake surf. And that may not be in your wheelhouse. It may not be an option for you, but for me, this was something new that I learned how to do.

And I can't tell you to this day, like every time I go wake surfing, it just feels amazing because I'm like, huh? I'm 58 years old. Yes, 58. And I have learned a new skill, and it had been such a long time since I learned a new skill. Take some time this summer. And it doesn't have to be big and dramatic. It could be you learn how to cross stitch.

It could be. And I have a link to a um friend, a personal friend, and also a member of the Happy Music Teacher Academy. Her name is Caitlin Tray and she has an Etsy shop with the most adorable cross-stitch pattern. So I will link that in the comments. Maybe you love, you might love pottery, or you love to paint, or maybe you've always wanted to learn to paint, or you wanna do photography, or you wanna, this is my new one for this year.

Play pickleball. Whatever it is. Get out there and spend a couple weeks and learn a new skill. Take one. Day a week and learn a new skill, you will feel so amazing first of all, that you've learned something new. Second of all, that you've accomplished something that has nothing to do with work. And the third, it is going to give your brain a break in a different kind of way.

It's gonna add some sunshine to your day. So that is option one. Learn a new skill. Option two. Take some time for yourself. Take some time to be quiet, to be on your own. Start some meditation. Or, and by the way, meditation does not have to be, I'm sitting silently and my brain stops working. That's not how meditation works.

I will put a link to Insight Timer in the show notes, and that is a free app. It has literally thousands of meditations anywhere from like one minute. All the way up to like 30 minutes. I've never done a 30 minute meditation. I'm not sure I ever will, but it's not about shutting your mind off. It's about refocusing and it is the best thing anyway.

So maybe do some meditation, maybe take a walk on your own and just. Focus on listening to nature. There are so many beautiful places in our country, in our world. Take some time for yourself. If you get really dramatic, maybe you take a trip to the beach by yourself. I mean, wouldn't that be fun? So do something like that.

For yourself and something that that gives you some quiet, I will tell you that every day on my way home, I turn off all sound. I don't listen to the radio, I don't listen to a podcast. I give myself time to just. Turn off my brain, turn off my ears because one of the really difficult things about being a music teacher is your ears are always getting input.

So, and, and it's not always the most beautiful input if we're just saying so. So you know, give yourself some quiet moments. Go to a park, whatever, and, and not reading quiet moments. Quiet moments where you're just being. So that is option number two. Option number three. I'm gonna tell you, I've been exercising since I was in my early forties, and I started with seven minutes a day and I would do one or two things.

And I found that I really enjoyed that. It was first thing in the morning. As soon as I got up, I, I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier and I did like wall sits and walking lunges, something like that. I that I remember that being a couple of the things Then. I just gradually increased it because I found that I was really enjoying it, and now I exercise between 30 minutes and an hour every morning.

It does not have to be anything dramatic. You don't have to go out and start lifting like a hundred pound weights. We're not talking about that. We're talking like invite a friend and take a walk or run up and down your stairs like 10 times something. Some kind of movement for your body. Movement is so important for your brain, for your body.

Get yourself into the habit while you're at home and make it a habit that you think you can continue during the school year. Even if you have to get up a little bit earlier Now, you may be rolling your eyes at me and be like, oh no, no, Jeanette, this is, that's totally not me. I'm not doing that. And you know, these are just suggestions.

They're just thoughts, right? If you got some great tips and tidbits that are going to help you become a happy music teacher, I would be so thankful if you'd leave me a review. Thanks so much for your time. Well, that's all I have for you today, but before I go, let me remind you. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep being fabulous.


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