I’m a big fan of rest and recovery, mostly because I work best in intense bursts of energy and creativity.

Today we return to classes after Spring Break, an entire week of respite from a quarter year’s worth of effort. Spring Break is right where it belongs, perfectly timed for us to stop and take a whiff of freshly blooming flowers.

I got to thinking about Spring Break, not because we were just on it, but because I recently finished the book Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte.

As you might have guessed, the book is about how the speed of life has kicked into overdrive, how demands on our time and mental energy have skyrocketed, as well as Schulte’s perspective on what to do about it all.

If you read it you may get the impression that she’s neurotic, yet the research she quotes confirms that it’s not just her, it’s most of us.

The reality is this: always going, 24-7 is bona fide NUTS.  Even the Sun will burn out eventually.

When I started SMAA about 17 years ago I was on all-day, every day because:

(1) a new school needed that much energy to survive and run successfully

(2) All I had was 3 people to help me — me, myself and I

(3) I was single with no kids 🙂

One several occasions I recall thinking to myself,”this is nuts. Why am I doing this like this?” and “there’s got to be a better way.”

So, by degrees I started pulling back, first with resorting to the old 6-1.  Six days of work, one day (Sunday) of rest.

Seemed like a good formula, and I immediately felt the good vibrations.

As I started to achieve a better sense of balance between the school and the rest of my life, I got bolder.

For awhile, I closed on Saturdays.

Bad move.  While I got some well-needed recovery time, Saturday was Prime Time for many families.

I relented on Saturdays.

Then, I went big.

To fight “The Overwhelm” (Schulte’s words), I grabbed an annual calendar and decided to plan out the whole year.

Holidays and breaks are on the calendar for good reasons, so I chose to align our year-round school to it.

Christmas/New Year’s was the first, then 4th of July Summer Break, followed a few years later by Thanksgiving and finally to Spring Break.

Part of overwhelm is the feeling of letting other people down. Fear of letting down any one student coerced me into staying open when the staff needed a recharge so they could return energized and prepared to teach at their best.

Here’s what I noticed: The more regular breaks we scheduled in, the more comfortable EVERYONE was — students, parents and teachers.

I realized that regularly scheduled breaks gave families a breather as well; they had a chance to not feel overwhelmed.

Many thanked me for stopping the treadmill.

ASIDE: I just read that a school-wide snow day has ZERO effect on children’s school performance. It’s only individual absences that really matter.

One of the best trends in Fitness is High-Intensity Interval Training, where you go all-out, then rest, then go all-out in CYCLES OF WORK AND RECOVERY. Again, not all work and no recovery.

Recovery is an end in itself, leisure should be cherished, yet it also has the effect of making us more productive and creative when we get back to work.

How cool is that?  That’s a win-win.

Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

I hope you had your play last week, because now we are back in action.