Treat Yo Self: An Educator's Guide to Self Care

(Oh hey y’all – guest blogger here! My name is Erin and I have the honor of being able to work with Adam every day.)

Every so often, a social media game of sorts will make the rounds, to the tune of “Describe yourself using three fictional characters”. I’m a sucker for mindless self-reflection, which is the same reason I love a good Buzzfeed quiz. (“Tell Us What Kind of Potato You Are and We’ll Tell You Where You Should Go To Grad School?” Sure!) Anyway, my “three fictional characters” usually end up being Liz Lemon, Maggie Simpson, and Chandler Bing.

If I’m being completely honest with myself, though, I could probably narrow down every aspect of my personality to one show and one show only:  the NBC hit Parks and Recreation.  I would consider myself to be equal parts Leslie Knope (hardworking, optimistic, planner of Galentine’s Day events), Ron Swanson (grizzled, no-nonsense, lover of breakfast meats), with just a touch of Jennifer Barkley (no kids, go-getter, loving life) but my temperament could be described most by referencing the baller-ass duo of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle.  

Why Tom and Donna?

Like Tom Haverford, I’ve been a baller since birth. As Tom says, “Sometimes you gotta work a little, so you can ball a lot.” I relish in any opportunity to take a party to the next level. I love amenities.  My playlists are full of bangers only.  I judge restaurants based on their quality of apps and zerts.  I follow the Meagle mantra of: “If you don’t like what I post, don’t follow me.”  But more than anything, I most embody the spirit of these two characters when I take one special day each year and spend it buying and doing whatever I damn well please.  That’s right, folks – I celebrate my very own TREAT YO SELF DAY.

Watch this short video for reference.

Although some people use the original airdate of this episode (October 13) as the official Treat Yo Self Day, mine has always been the Monday after the Super Bowl.  Not only do I get to enjoy staying up later to watch the game instead of my usual insanely early bedtime, February is smack-dab in the middle of the school year’s winter blahs. It’s the perfect mid-year opportunity to get refreshed, and I look forward to it every year. This year, I just so happen to be lucky enough to see our own Philadelphia Eagles play in the Big Game, but that’s just a coincidence. I request off for this day every year in August as soon as school is back in session.

Once summer is over, the planning begins.  I start to sock away any gift cards, cash, and reimbursement checks (which is money I already spent anyway, but feels like an extra bonus) and save it for the day that I can blow it all on whatever catches my eye.  For weeks prior, I start to compile lists of what stores to attack first and what items are prioritized.  When the day finally comes, I gather everything up and focus on my game plan.  My first stop is Wawa, for breakfast and a giant coffee.  This is also the first spot where you might be able to find one of my Kindness Bombs.  What is a Kindness Bomb, you may ask? About a week or so before the Big Day, I set aside a bunch of gift cards that I will drop in random places for people to find, so that they can also have an opportunity treat themselves.  It makes me feel a bit better about all the money I’m about to spend.  This year, I’m dropping over $150 to places from Starbucks to Amazon.  

The rest of the day is devoted solely to splurging.  Boots. Perfume. Jewelry. Mani-pedi. Tipsy lunch. It’s obscene in the most decadent, delicious way. It also provides the solitude and quiet “me time” that an only child like me needs more often than not.  I try to get home earlier than I would on a normal work day, in order to beat rush hour traffic.   The overindulgence of that one day is enough to get me to the next major milestone: Spring Break.  

I feel compelled to stop here with a disclaimer: I am NOT a complete spoiled brat.  I work DAMN hard every day and rarely take the time to spend significant money on myself. You might already be familiar with the phrase “you can’t fill from an empty cup”.  There’s a reason why there are so many blog posts on self-care – it’s because we don’t do enough of it! Or we feel guilty when we do it! (Well, other people might. I don’t.)  This is especially true of teachers.  So many of us are in a constant state of beating ourselves up for not taking those extra minutes to grade one more paper or plan a little bit more of that lesson.  And while being thorough is great, it’s not worth the exchange of your mental well-being. It’s time to stop the madness!  If we want to serve our students to the best of our ability, we need to be able to give them our best selves.  The world will keep spinning and the school will not burn to the ground if you take a day off.  

In conclusion, I challenge you all to find your own Treat Yo Self Day, whatever that may look like for you.  When are you in most need of a mental health day?  Take that day off!  What activities speak to your soul as being an extra special treat? Go out and do them! And don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it!  I know the saying “Life’s too short” is pretty cliché, but LIFE REALLY IS TOO SHORT!  When you look back on your life, will you be patting yourself on the back for how many personal days you racked up? NO!  Take the time now to enjoy the journey and give yourself what you need to be the kickass educator you can be.  

(PS: If you waited until Monday to read this, the city of Philadelphia might be burning to the ground, either in revelry or in anguish. Here’s to revelry. Go Birds.)