Parents & Teachers: Need Recess Too
Recess for most of us and for kids today, was and still is one of the best parts of the school day. It’s time to get a break from the classroom, run around, play, climb, socialize, or just sit under a tree and contemplate. Over the last two decades, recess has been shortened, cut back, and in some cases, cut out completely to give way to a more rigorous schedule. Its only savior has been the research revealing the undeniable benefits recess has for improved focus, academic success and overall physical and emotional well-being. It’s an interesting social phenomenon that we’ll take a stand for and insist on for our children but won’t insist on it for ourselves.
As I work with parents, teachers, and school leaders, I always come away with a jaw-dropping list of topics to blog about. How lucky am I to bear witness to the love, care, and determination so willingly given to make it work for students under quite unworkable circumstances? My vision is to raise the important work of families and schools and bring attention to the uniqueness of their roles. Unique because they don’t do it for the financial gain (quite the contrary for parents), they do it for the moral compensation which can’t be measured.
Today, my heart is heavy. I can’t bring myself to offer an ounce of encouragement to “stay with it” or to say, “keep going, you’ve got this”. The behind the scenes view is troubling. The 24/7 grind is showing. No matter who I met in recent weeks, parent, teacher, building principal or superintendent, they looked bone-weary, dare I say physically and emotionally bankrupt. So, with things so dire, taking a break, going out for recess seems like a logical thing to do, but then why isn’t it happening?
As dubious as it sounds, its guilt, and there is an outpouring of it! And let’s face it, honest to goodness self-care just isn’t popular! Not to mention the unfounded shame involved. We perceive that setting a boundary to take care of yourself and saying, “I need a break,” will cause judgment to be cast upon us. It might appear that you’re not doing your job or you’re not keeping pace or worst of all, you don’t care. No doubt, that perception is accurate; however, the logic is skewed. When we by-pass our exhaustion and our feelings, we pay a price and, spoiler alert, the kids pay a price too. Think about it, we’re modeling for our children that it’s not who we are that matters, it’s what we do that reigns supreme. Yep, Big Ouch!!!
There is a cure for this pandemic of self-neglect, but it takes courage and most important, baby steps. Parents and educators have been generous in granting grace to each other, now it’s time to extend that same grace to ourselves. Can you find five minutes a day? Good, use the five minutes to try these three simple things:
Take a deep breath. Stand up, get your feet on the ground. Close your eyes and take a deep breath and hold it until you feel the tension, then release. Do this three times. This will help you ground yourself. The exhale will help you release and rejuvenate.
Draw an imaginary arm’s length circle around you. This is your boundary. The space you take up in the world. It is what you have control of and the knowing of what you value. This boundary helps you to feel safe and protect what is important to you.
Get quiet and notice one sound in the room. This is your sacred time to come back to yourself, the wise, unique you. Allow and notice all of your feelings. Don’t ignore the vulnerable parts, like the fear, worry, anxiety, confusion, anger. We spend a lot of energy pushing away feelings rather than honoring them. This quiet time heightens your intuition which is always there and paying attention. It is what helps orient you to change.
I have seen countless wise teachers, stop instruction because the kids desperately needed to get out on the playground and move. The school bell is ringing for the caretakers. Let’s grace ourselves with a five-minute recess. If I haven’t convinced you, then let me just say this, the best way to love your child is to love yourself.
Here is to a happy, healthy and memorable school year!
Founder Parent Action for Healthy Kids