Cardiff, connection and self-care

Two years on from a planned trip to Cardiff to the Principality Stadium to cheer on Wales against Scotland, we finally made it yesterday. It was meant as a pre-A level exams eighteenth birthday treat for the son who is now nearly twenty and a second year university student. Yesterday seemed more of a reward for endurance. Teaching and learning through a pandemic has taken its toll but this blog is not the place to air that grievance. Let it be enough that I refuse to feel guilty for taking most of a day off to connect with my family and do something we all enjoy. When the children were much younger and we were strapped for cash, our days out consisted of picnics, treasure hunts or exploration of National Trust or English Heritage sites. Now we can afford to buy rugby tickets and eat out but the key elements remain – shared family time, outdoors with food and drink.

I enjoyed listening to the various conversations on the train which suggested that there are a whole heap of folk who rest, recuperate and take time out for connection and self-care at the weekend. The couple next to us were planning a DIY project – although the colour of the bedroom paint and the exact delivery date for the bed was up for discussion. Someone else had spent time pottering in the garden. (Note to self – this is a neglected part of my own self-care routine.) I caught up on the adventures of a lady who has thrown herself – quite literally – into wild swimming in the winter. And in the stadium itself the five of us with 74,000 others spent a couple of hours united in song, jokes, stories of past matches and appreciation of a sporting contest which meant so much to fans and players alike. A day to remember and one that might go some way to balance a Sunday spent marking and working in front of a computer.

And balance is the key. Teacher, doctor, professional, human – know that you can’t fill from an empty pot. Efficiency and creativity is the gift you bring as an employee when self-care and connection with others lies at the heart of your life. Employers, especially school academy trusts would be well-advised to recognise this. Whatever you do this week, make time for yourself and those you love. An exhortation made especially poignant upon learning out of the blue on Friday afternoon of the death of a dad whose children are contemporaries of our own.

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