I had not long finished my NQT year (first year of teaching) when I had Arthur. I then had Eirlys when Arthur was 15 months old. I spent just over two years off work in total. It was then time for me to go back to work. Tom and I both applied for positions at our current school.
Whether mums should work or not is a topic many people feel strongly about. I personally don’t think there is a right answer or perfect option. It depends on so many things! Lucky those who get to choose the option they are happiest with. I could have stayed off work. We would have managed on one wage. But we wouldn’t have been able to save for the future, going back to visit family would have stretched us and holidays would have been a definite no. Short of pimping Tom out for extra cash, going back to work was the best, although not perfect, scenario. I loved being at home with my two and in some ways more time would have been nice but it was also hard keeping them entertained all day!
I have been very lucky. My school runs a crèche where Arthur and Eirlys both went in my first year back. So when I had to hand them over for the first time they were only going about 200m away from my classroom. Made my tears seem pretty daft! We also finish work at 2pm which gives us a whole afternoon together. We start school early (7am) but early starts and toddlers go hand in hand anyway. May as well embrace it!
There are challenges. Maintaining the necessary levels of enthusiasm for a classroom of 7/8 year olds (I teach year 3) and then for two toddlers at home can be tricky. There are days where reading to my two can feel like a chore because I have just finished reading a mountain of stories written by my class. Or it can be hard to remain patient with a misbehaving child in my class after Arthur and Eirlys have spent the early hours of the morning refusing to put socks on. We all have our limits!
It is also hard not to feel pressure as a teacher parent to produce children who are hitting their “age related expectations” and are well-behaved. If we can’t get ours right, then why should we be having a go with anyone else’s?! *Touch wood* Arthur and Eirlys seem to have turned out OK so far. So that’s a start. I also think I would be a competitive parent anyway, teacher or otherwise…I have decided to just accept this. I have a ridiculous need for them to do well at school. I do know they are only small though. Tom laughs at my need for them to do well, but let’s see how he reacts when it is football matches they are playing in!
The days sometimes feel like they are one blur. Waking up, getting in the car 45 minutes later (got that morning routine down), school, back home, play/read, make tea, bathtime, storytime, bedtime, do work for school, grown-up/stare-at-TV time, bed…wake up again! We also only have 15 minute breaks at school so that whizzes by.
There are upsides though! Teaching means I get to spend a lot of time with my family. We have weekends together, finish work at a sensible time and have long holidays. Being an expat teacher helps this even more as there is less pressure than there currently is in many UK schools. Seeing Arthur and Eirlys around school is also lovely. Arthur’s eyes lit up today as he saw me across the hall in assembly. His big grin and wave from where he sat with his friends was fabulous.
Being a mum myself has also made me more understanding of parents in some ways. It is easier to imagine how they might feel receiving reports, at parent’s evenings and assemblies. Easier to understand what is important to them. Not that teachers without kids don’t empathise with parents, that’s just how I felt! Teaching is also what has made it easy for us to move abroad as a family. There are jobs available all around the world that we can apply to, jobs which are safe and welcoming for all of us. I also love the variety of teaching and being at work. Something different happens every day! I enjoy teaching, being in school and watching my class develop over the year.
So there we go. A little bit about what it is like being a teacher-mum!