Balancing Act … Life by Naomi

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I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work. I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work. Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.

My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.

So, this week it’s over to Naomi at Life by Naomi.

1. Tell me about your family

My family is small: myself, my husband Tim and our son, Ben, who is 2. Here is a family selfie from Easter Sunday.

Life By Naomi

2. What was your job/position before you started your family?

I was a Full Time English Teacher in a Secondary school – I had quite a bit of responsibility within the school as well, leading various Teaching and Learning projects, which I loved. I had been doing it for 7 years before having Ben, and had mostly kept my work in school, often working 7am-7pm if necessary. I really enjoy teaching and do think I make a difference for the students I teach.

3. What was your work-life balance like?

Not very healthy to be honest – I think I was a bit of a workaholic! But I did manage to keep the balance by keeping my work at school where possible, and I tried to avoid doing a lot of extra-curricular work. I have done quite a lot of exam marking too, which took over in the summer term, but was worth it for the money – it paid for us to have several nice holidays.

4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?

To begin with, I loved it. I had Ben in August, and I didn’t even think about school when September rolled around. I promised myself that I wouldn’t even think about work for the first 4 months, and I didn’t. I thought I’d miss the social side of teaching, and the general ‘buzz’, and this did become more obvious as the year passed.

By 9 months (I had a full year off), I was a bit bored, and started planning lessons. I really enjoyed my Keep In Touch days too. This surprised me – I wondered if I’d want to become a stay-at-home mum, but I think I’d be too bored! I missed the creativity of teaching and planning, even if I didn’t miss the marking and classroom management.

5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?

After maternity leave, I went back 3 days a week, and it was perfect. I had slightly more time at home with Ben, and enough time in school that I felt that it was worth it. I enjoyed my work days and enjoyed my time at home. Being part time made the marking and planning manageable, although I always worked on my days off.

I did that for a year, and then we moved house and I got a job at another school. I could only get a full-time position, and deliberately didn’t apply for anything with any responsibilities. I started in September, and, to be honest, it has been really hard. I think it’s the combination of starting at a new school (new schemes of work, new systems, different exam boards), and all the recent changes in English, but the thing that makes it so hard is being full time.

Now, my days run like this:

7.30am – Either drop Ben at nursery or arrive at work, depending on what my husband is doing. If I drop Ben at nursery, I arrive at work around 8am. I think do any last minute setting up, a bit of marking or some planning.

8.35am – 3pm – Teaching – I do as much as I can in my free periods and certainly don’t get time to have a cup of tea! We have half an hour for lunch, and I try to spend at least 15 minutes of that with colleagues.

3pm-4pm – Booster classes or Enrichment – I teach two Year 11 classes and run an English enrichment activity, so this takes up quite a lot of time.

4.30pm – 7pm – Rush back to pick up Ben from nursery (I usually get him around 4.30pm). Spend time with him, cook dinner, do laundry and any urgent housework.

7pm – Ben’s bedtime.

7pm-10pm – Marking and planning. I often end up working until 10pm, and always have more to do at the weekend. When there are extra jobs to do – mock exams to mark, for example – I have to find the time somewhere. Tim often comes home, asks how much work I have to do, and then tells me that he’ll ‘take over’ bedtime. That’s hard, because often I’ll have spent 11-12 hours working, but only 1 with my son.

Sometimes, it feels absolutely relentless, and I have to remind myself that we do get excellent holidays – even if I do often have to spend 2 or 3 days of it working!

6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?

Personally, I thought I’d become much more tolerant, much more relaxed. But actually, it’s the opposite, especially with behaviour. I find myself thinking – “Actually, if someone was behaving like that in my child’s class, I wouldn’t be happy.” I’m a lot stricter as a result! I think I’m actually a better teacher for it.

I’m also much stricter about what I will and won’t do – and I need to do more of this. It’s hard, being in a new job, because you want to appear willing to go the extra mile, but I have to weigh up the cost of that extra mile to my family. But I won’t do anything in school in the holidays, for example, because that’s my time with my family.

In terms of the job changing, it has changed massively in the last 2 years. In the first three months that I was back, there were huge changes to the curriculum and to exams that happened mid-year. That all took a lot of planning and resourcing – education ministers never seem to factor in that time for teachers when they think, “Ooh, let’s change GCSEs!” or something similar. But that’s the same for all teachers, and isn’t anything to do with me going on maternity leave.

Technically, with my job change, I suppose I’ve lost some responsibility – I’m a bog-standard English teacher now, rather than a Lead Teacher, but I don’t mind that. I’m actively avoiding any additional responsibility for the moment!

I still really enjoy teaching, and even enjoy the marking and the planning. It’s a challenging and a creative job and no two days are the same. But the impact it has on my family at the moment isn’t right.

7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.

Unbalanced. Stressful. Guilt-inducing. (Can I get away with hyphenating two words?)

8. This might be difficult to answer, but are you happy with your work-life balance?

No, I’m not. I have to do too much at home, but I don’t know what the answer is – the lessons have to be planned, and the books have to be marked!

9. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?

If I had the chance, I’d go part-time again. If the powers-that-be could give us planning time for the changes they implement, that would be appreciated too!

Details

Website: http://lifebynaomi.com

Twitter: @lifebynaomi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Life-by-Naomi/166293933526455

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/naomilynas/

For all the previous posts, see the #BalancingAct page.

If you think you’d like to get involved in this feature and share your story, please leave a comment, tweet me @mamavsteacher or email me mamavsteacher@outlook.com.

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Balancing Act … A Little Bit LoCo

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I have been fascinated by the reactions that people have had to me when I was on maternity leave, when I was getting ready to go back to work, and now that I am back at work.  I find that some people are very judgemental about how they expect families to work.  Well, I’ve got news for you everyone, we’re all different, we all have different needs and that is one of the amazing things about us.

My aim is to share the stories of families of all different types and spread the word that we are all playing a #BalancingAct to get through and raise our little people the best way we can. Let’s celebrate the diversity between our families, let’s not judge each other.

So, this week it’s over to Lois at A Little Bit LoCo.

Lois Cooper

1. Tell me about your family

I’m Lois, 31 and a half. I am married to Dave also 31 and we have two children – Felix is four & Juliette is two and a half. We also have a mad cat. We live in Chatham, in Kent.

2. What was your job/position before you started your family?

I worked as a pattern cutter for a Fashion Supplier in North London. No one ever knows what that is, but I made paper patterns for clothes which were cut out in fabric and sewn together and hopefully sold in bulk to High Street stores such as Dorothy Perkins, BHS, Tesco, Primark and others.

3. What was your work-life balance like?

Rubbish! I had a two hour train commute each way that I hated and which also cost me a quarter of my monthly take home pay. While the job in itself was ok and I learnt loads, which has enabled me to continue using my skills, as well as a few pointers as to how to run a business (and many on how not to!). But I had to get on a train before 7am every morning and didn’t get home until 7pm every night, which was exhausting and left me feeling like I had very little time for myself.

4. How did you find being away from work when you were on maternity leave?

I didn’t miss working at all, and I definitely didn’t miss the commute, but it was a very anxious time as we had major money worries as my husband lost his job while I was pregnant due to illness and Statutory Maternity Pay didn’t even nearly go far enough to cover our monthly expenses. We weren’t eligible for any sorts of Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance as technically I was still employed full time.

5. Have you returned to some kind of work since having baby and how did you come to that decision?

Yes – not entirely through choice, but I did want to try to do something while the child(ren) were tiny. I started working again from home when Felix was 2 months old – I was given an opportunity to make some bespoke leotards for a Gymnastics club, and also began scouring the local Charity shops and Bargain bins for bits I could sell on eBay, as well as putting together bags of scrap fabric to sell as offcuts for crafting and sewing. Leotard orders kept coming for a few months but Gymnastics competitions are quite seasonal, and it went quiet for the summer. I then met some ladies who had started designing and manufacturing wall stickers. It was getting a bit much for them and they needed some help, and offered me a job which I could do from home. They set me up with a vinyl printer and vinyl supplies and I got going. Initially I did 16-20 hours a week for them, but now that the children are older, I have been able to increase my hours to 40+ each week. As I get paid an hourly rate, the wage increase has been great! I also still make the odd set of leotards.

6. How (if at all) has work changed since you returned (if you did)?

The work I do now is very different from when I was trudging off every morning at 6.30am. I have to manage my time pretty carefully around the children (as we don’t rely on any childcare, although they do both go to Preschool five afternoons a week now), and as Dave also works from home we have to tag team quite a lot. But I do get to work in pajamas, which is brilliant!

7. Describe your work-life balance now in 3 words.

Relentless, Chaotic and Frenetic

8. This might be difficult to answer, but are you happy with your work-life balance?

Yes. I love working from home. I love being here for the children while being able to bring in an income. It’s exhausting and relentless as I feel like I am constantly juggling work & children, and I often have to work late into the evening after they have gone to bed, but I wouldn’t go back to a 9-5 now. Ironically, I work harder and do more hours now than I did when I went out to work, but it doesn’t feel like it!

9. Would you change anything about the family and work balance that you currently have?

If anything, it would be to be able to separate work time & family time, and work space and family space – both Dave & I currently work out of our dining room. I can’t remember the last time we were able to eat at the table, which is slightly embarrassing when we have people over for dinner. We are hoping to save up to convert our cellar into a proper workroom, which would be fantastic.

Details

Website: https://littlebitlocoblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter: lococooper17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/LoCo-Designs/220321337995191

Google+: https://plus.google.com/105293893586048963890/posts?hl=en

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/lococooper/

For all the previous posts, see the #BalancingAct page.

If you think you’d like to get involved in this feature and share your story, please leave a comment, tweet me @mamavsteacher or email me mamavsteacher@outlook.com.

Mums' Days

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The upcoming weeks…

I’m going to be taking a little mini-break from blogging in the coming weeks as I have rather a lot going on at the moment and something’s got to give.

My lovely, brilliant, intelligent and hard-working year 11’s have to write their 2000 word essay worth 25% of their mark and I know that so many of them could get A’s and A*’s if I push them.  I need time to be able to push them. I need time to look at their work. I need time to have my head in the game.

In just 3 short weeks, I will be returning from one of my closest friend’s Hen weekend’s, as a bridesmaid this means that I have an awful lot to plan in the next 3 weeks along with hair trails etc for the wedding! I need time for planning, for cutting and sticking, for shopping.  I need time to be the best bridesmaid I can be without being distracted.

I have been getting very frustrated with the lack of quality time that I get to spend with Sprog without worrying about all the things that I need to do but haven’t had time to do.  I just want to enjoy him as much as possible.

I need to find an opportunity to rebuild myself. In amongst all the guilt of not being able to do as much at school as I used to, the guilt of not being at home from Sprog like I want to be, the guilt of not having time to be a good and supportive wife, the time that I put into writing and promoting posts, I’m beginning to lose ‘me’ a little bit. I need to take time to change the balance. I need time to finish the book that I started reading at Christmas, time to paint my nails… man, even time to wash my hair would be an improvement!

You’ll know that I’m all about ‘balance’.  So I’m not planning to stop blogging altogether, but just to play about with the ‘balance’ of aspects of my life.  I’ll still be linking up to some of my fav’s like #WickedWednesday and #MySundayPhoto.  I’ll still be posting my Weight loss journey and my brilliant (even if I do say so) Balancing Act feature each week as I have some great mum’s lined up, but I’m not going to worry about planning new posts unless something comes to me!

So I hope that in a few weeks, I can write that I have readjusted and I am ready to write properly again… but we’ll see…no pressure!