Yes I am still here, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. I realise it may appear like I disappeared as I haven’t continued my online presence and my blog has been sadly neglected for the majority of 2017 and 2018. I’ve just been absent for a little while. Not that I’ve been on a long holiday, believe me I could use one of those! No, I’ve simply taken some time off work and being a teacher to become a mum. Yes, I am a mum! The most rewarding and challenging job I’ve ever had. Loving this precious time off with my baby boy, his name is Edison and he is now 15 months old. Here are some photos of him: (cue adorable aaahhh sound)
I thought I’d take this time and rare opportunity to blog whilst he is napping! I have started this blog post four times already and am finally finishing it after many attempts! I figure it’s best to get started and persist with my blog as best as I can. Here we go!
So, what is my purpose for this post? I’d love to share what I know, and seek some feedback, support and a listening ear from other working mum’s (and dad’s), especially those who are teachers. I would also like to ease my way back into my profession by documenting my experience as a teaching mum and share my observations of the women (and men) I know who teach in this career and continually strive for a healthy work and family life balance.
Going Back to Work
I am incredibly fortunate as I had the opportunity to stay at home with my baby for 11 months. I know a lot of parents who have had to return to work a lot earlier for varying reasons, some wanted to, others had to financially either way I just don’t know how they did it. Hats off to them 👏.
I returned to work part time in a teaching asssitant role in Term 3 of this year, so that I could ease back into a work routine and prepare my son, Edison, for not having his mum home all of the time. He has settled into childcare well but still has some separation anxiety issues, pulls on my heartstrings when I leave him every time! This has been a real eye opener, I have much more empathy for those parents who have children who still get upset when they drop them off at school! I get it!
My Top Tips for Teachers
Plan Your Return
Have you thought about the days, times, hours that would ideally suit you as an individual, family member and teacher? Work out what you want to do and have a few ideas up your sleeve as to how you could manage this. Plan and arrange a meeting with your employer to discuss your return to work. Be prepared with questions and suggestions in case your employer cannot support your requests.
Have you got your child care arrangements sorted? Whether it be an Early Learning Centre or the good old grandparents, aunties or uncles, do your homework and figure out who can take care of bubs whilst you’re at work. The trickiest in this situation is if you are planning on doing TRT work, which can be unpredictable. You will need to source care last minute, which is not ideal or have your childcare booked in on certain days and let the schools you plan to relieve in know when you are available.
Prepare Yourself and be Organised
I now understand the true value of time and organisation. I have always been a fairly organised type of person, but becoming a mum has made this trait even more important. Being organised at home is crucial. I suggest meal prepping, cleaning schedules, having a visual/ virtual timetable or calendar for your whole family to know who is doing what on which days/nights and make sure everyone is on the same page. In my family we have my partner (who is also a teacher), his two teenage daughters, one starting university and the other starting Year 12 in 2019, baby Edison and myself. We all have varying timetables and roles to play within the family unit and we are a team. I’m lucky to have their support and somehow we make it work. Also, being organised at work is key, use all of those useful strategies to make sure your lessons, planning and general responsibilities are being covered. Use your release time wisely, answer those tricky emails at appropriate times and try to stay on top of those deadlines by setting timeframes, using reminders and working productively in the time you have at work.
Know Your Limits
You can only do your best on any given day. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will feel guilty for missing things, not spending as much time with your family as you’d like and you will drop the ball from time to time. Make sure you don’t overwork yourself. I know from experience that teaching can be an all consuming career. The day doesn’t start and end at the school bell. We have a multitude of teaching responsibilities outside of school hours, planning, marking, writing individual student support plans, report writing, parent interviews, staff meetings, cocurricular activities to run, school events to attend, professional development courses, it goes on and on. Know what you are willing to do and remember that it is okay to say no and not take on anything extra, especially if you’re feeling stressed. Ask for help when you need it, your year level team members are usually the most supportive people to assist you here, support one another and go to leadership if you feel there’s something you can’t handle or need support with.
Its a Balancing Act
I’m going to learn this one eventually, but finding the right balance is tricky. Becoming a mum has taught me the importance of self-care.
You Time: We all need a little time out once in a while to recoup and feel good. Do what works for you, a little time out reading, exercising, shopping, getting a manicure or pedicure, massage, your favourite hobby, whatever it is that you need, take a little time every so often to give yourself a break.
Family Time: I once read an article about parenting and something struck me, it was about not spending quality time with your children but quantity time. Children don’t remember the one off things and small amounts of time together, they remember you being there and making special memories all the time. I’m not sure how true this is but I thought I’d prefer for us to have memorable family times. Meals together, family outings, walking, exploring, just being together, find the time as children grow up quickly and this time if the most precious.
Work Time: We all have to work, jobs vary, but we all have responsibilities at work and it helps us to provide for our families. Be productive when you are at work, get as much done at work as you can so you don’t take too much work home with you and allow it to cut into your family time. Plan for the events out of school hours and make sure you have someone to support you, babysit or manage the pick ups and drop offs, meals, general running around (for us it’s taking the girls to their part time jobs or soccer training and games, childcare for Edison). Do what works for you.
Finally, good luck to all working mums and dads returning to teaching. Wish me luck on my return to work. I’m excited and nervous but also feeling good about being back in the profession I am so passionate about. I’m also sad to not be spending as much time with my baby boy, who I love more than life itself, but I understand this is how it’s meant to be and he will be learning lots of things at childcare too. If you have any tips for me, I would be very grateful, please post a comment below.