“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day Five: Dread-Free Mondays

I'm a slow learner, so it took me most of my life, until just this fall, to find a way to stop dreading Monday morning.

I'm not talking about the summer, when we educators get to write and travel and fix up our houses and injure ourselves trying to learn new things to do outdoors.  I'm talking about the academic semester when we're "on."

I like teaching, I love my students, but my problem was that no matter how well I planned, or how much I tried to manage my time, I always brought too much work home with me on the weekend.  I would spend all weekend grading papers: Friday night, Saturday, Sunday.  So when Monday came around I felt cheated.  I thought, Whoa, Didn't we just do this?  Years passed.  I got older.  This way of living got old too.

I was like this as a student too.  I procrastinated doing my homework, or did it inefficiently, taking break after break, and on Sunday I had to make up for lost time.

The first thing that helped happened eight years ago, when Zoe came into my life.  When I made the commitment to walk Zoe every afternoon before dinner (my husband does the morning walk--to be discussed in another post) I suddenly had a daily deadline.  Maybe I could knock off by walk time and then do something else, I thought.  Like, you know, socialize.  Like, with normal, fun-loving people who weren't working all weekend.

Flash forward a few years, to those months we spent in France.  Every Sunday we would have a long, leisurely lunch, either at home or in a restaurant, and I realized that this was how normal people are supposed to spend the last day of the week: at rest.  Whether there's a religious service in the mix, or just a religious refusal to work, it's how people with balanced lives live.

So when I got home this summer, I made a pact with myself: no grading on Sunday.  I can read the books I teach--reading relaxes me, and I can do it on the couch--but grading and other rigorous course prep has to get done beforehand.  And somehow I found a way to reorganize my workload so as to get everything done by Saturday afternoon.  So that I could actually have a weekend.  And since I started this tradition, I haven't broken the rule once.  (See yesterday's blog: Day four: How Sunday Became My Favorite Day of the Week.)  Besides, the students bring their own stress into the classroom, especially after a Sunday of making up for lost time.  Things go better when at least one of us is in a really good mood.

So on Sunday, after the midday feast, I get my clothes ready for the week.  I read.  I walk Zoe.  I kick back.  And I get to sleep early.  And when the alarm rings on Monday, I'm game.

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