I’m living the ‘back to work’ chapter; I’ve almost survived the first half term as a part-time teacher and first-time mum! Looking back over the last six weeks, I can reflect on the ups and downs. Things have changed. Have I changed?
Teacher Vs Mamma
After the birth of Little Lass, I’ve gone back to work part time for a few reasons really but simply put, I don’t think the job lends itself to being a new mum because of the workload. Hats off to anyone doing it full time with children. I applaud you. And who’s to say I won’t change to full time in the future? Right now, part time is more than enough for me.
Still wanting to prove to myself that I can still have a challenge as well as being a Mum, I applied for extra responsibility when I returned which helped my confidence. I’d heard horror stories about women being overlooked in the workplace because they’ve been off work to start a family. It doesn’t make us useless does it? In September, I was ready to return work: New Mum, New Start, New Chapter but with the bonus of being able to do it in a familiar place with familiar faces.
In reality, it feels like I haven’t found my feet yet. There have been tears. Changes. Successes. Doubts. My ‘work’ days aren’t consecutive so my head is in school mode for two days then my head has to be at home for two days before it has to be back at work again the next day. I am yet to find what works for me and my family.
Things have changed
Nothing ever stays the same does it? I’ve had to adapt to a changing school. The way things are taught are different because of the new GCSE Specification. The way we are encouraged to present lessons has changed because of a new approach to teaching and learning. There are new faces. New pressures. New classes. It’s like being brand new again. Like a child’s first day at school – without the time to settle back in. Because you were always an employee and so should know what you’re doing, right?
What work/life balance?
Monday and Tuesday are my ‘work’ days. On those days, I teach lessons, plan, mark, have meetings, observe trainee teachers, meet with students and have an endless list of things to action. Following staff meetings on a Tuesday evening, I’m usually ready to put actions into practice. Wednesday comes and I have play dates, washing, ironing, food shop and general jobs. Then on Thursday I might plan or mark when my baby naps and when lad gets home, I’ll read emails to catch up on what I’ve missed being ‘off’ then amend my planning ready to teach again on Friday. I regularly read online articles about women ‘having it all’ and being ‘boss babes’ in the hope that their successes will rub off on me. I can’t imagine that any of them are teachers! We’re like a different breed altogether.
Focused or Emotional?
I had tears after a frustrating situation and then was afraid to be seen as too emotional or vulnerable just because I’ve had a baby – but for a week or so it started to become true. I was being emotional. I felt a sense of anxiety about work and about who I am. After reaching out to friends and colleagues (old and new), I felt a renewed sense of confidence. Ready to face work again.
I’ve found that I am constantly adapting & I’m learning to expect the unexpected. I had to take a day off as my mum was ill and couldn’t look after Little Lass for me. The week after, Little Lass fell victim to a case of hand, foot and mouth which meant I had to take another day ‘off’.
[Off = visit to GP, chemist, administering calpol and ibruprofen at regular intervals, cuddles, bottles, nappies, tidying up…].
I felt so much guilt about letting students & staff down but felt equally guilty about Little Lass being poorly and needing her mummy. Then there’s catching up on the work you’ve missed and attempts to keep up with everything that happened while you’ve been off.
I feel like everything is only getting half of my attention at the moment. Some people are very good at saying enough is enough or are satisfied that they’ve done everything they can. I need to learn this! Some very wise friends have been telling me to go easier on myself and that’s something that I will try to do. Why is it that many women have an inherent quality where they feel that they’re not doing enough?
Next week we break up for half term. We have lots of Halloween things planned with friends and family. I’m looking forward to spending time with loved ones. And most of all my Little Lass and my Lad.
Let’s see what the next chapter brings…