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 … What Katy Said

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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 Katy from What Katy Said.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Tell me about your family

I am Katy and I am married to Mr F. We have two little girls- Little G who is 3 and Baby L who is almost 1!! Mr F is my best friend and my little family are my absolute world.

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

I was a full time teacher before I had Little G. I trained as a primary teacher and for 6 years I worked in a school in Borehamwood. I did 3 years in Year 1 and 3 in Reception and I loved it! The children I taught came from a mix of backgrounds, many needing love and support as well as being taught their abc’s.

3. What was your work-life balance like?

Teaching is life and your life is teaching. I don’t know any teacher that is able to balance their home life well! People think our job is 9-3 but I was getting to work for 7.30, working through my lunch, getting home by 6 and doing planning and marking on evenings and weekends. This did not leave much room for a social life or a home life!

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

I loved it!!!! I know it isn’t for everyone but I was swapping a day with 30 children to stay at home with my very own precious baby. Don’t get me wrong, I had days where I got lonely but I loved every single second!

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

I always planned on returning to work when Little G was 9 months old, however when she was 4 months old I had a massive breakdown and realised I couldn’t leave her. I handed my notice in and never looked back. 3 years later and now having Baby L, I have finally returned to work. I only do supply teaching at 1 day a week as I could not even begin to entertain the idea of working as a full time teacher with 2 young children. The money I earn keeps us afloat as our savings were beginning to dwindle. I will find a full time teaching job when Baby L is maybe 8 or 9 and they are a little bit more independent.

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

It is exactly the same in regards to the actual day to day job of teaching as children are children. However, the difference between supply and permanent is amazing and suits me perfectly. I get the pleasure of teaching without the hassle of planning, parents evening, meetings and classroom maintenance!

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

Easy. Balanced. Perfect.

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

I am so lucky that I have found the perfect balance. I actually am enjoying working so much I may increase my days once Little G starts nursery in January but then I don’t want to miss out on quality time with Baby L. We shall see.

Details

Website: What Katy Said

Twitter: @WhatKatySaidUK

Facebook: What Katy Said

Google+: What Katy Said

Pinterest: What Katy Said

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.

2014 – the complete Mama’s reflection

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At the start of 2014 I had pretty much never read a blog unless I’d stumbled upon one accidentally, I had no idea that there were these lovely online communities of people who share their every day waffle with each other, I was half way through my maternity leave and, actually, I was struggling.

At the start of 2015, I am an actual blogger, I know what widgets, Tots100, linky’s and sticky posts are (the last one I’m less sure of!), I feel comforted by a group of wonderful parents online, I am fully back at work and tired beyond belief, but I am happy and motivated.

I have a great big diary (a lush, gorgeous 100 year diary) that I fill in every few months as a reflection anyway so I suppose this post is just the online, sharing version of the end of year entry.  And let’s face it, there’s only one way that I could break this down to review – blogging life, teaching life and mama life!

Blogging highs

  • I have had had a blast since I set this blog up in April by finding out many weird and wonderful things from fellow bloggers.
  • Being part of a parenting community. I was the first of my friends to have a baby and was totally bewildered and unsure, I love that every day I get online and share my stories and read other people’s stories of parenting highs and lows. It most definitely gives me comfort to know that I’m not the only one winging it!
  • Almost 10,000 views, almost 500 twitter followers and a new love of Instagram…I’d never even been on it this time last year.

Blogging challenges

  • Increasing my audience was something that stressed me out for quite a while once I realised that I quite enjoyed blogging.  Once I found some linky’s and got involved in the social media side of things though, that soon came.
  • I’ve not always found it easy to post original or interesting content.  I work full time. And that’s not just 9-5 full time, that’s teacher full time which is close to 60 hours a week, if not more as well as looking after Sprog.

Teacher highs

  • Honestly, just going back to work and being ‘me’ again. I loved being off with Sprog and a much more leisurely lifestyle but I felt like my brain was rotting.  Going back to work has been amazing for me.
  • The social time with colleagues has given me space to be ‘me’ again and to relax.
  • Surviving. There has been an awful lot of challenges. Tiredness. Complete lack of time. Being too emotionally invested in students. But the great big positive in all of that is that I am surviving and just about managing to stay on top of all of my spinning plates.

Teacher challenges

  • Lack of time to do anything.  I am constantly up against a lack of time to do all my planning, marking, phone calls home, interventions with students, revision sessions, trip planning, meetings with colleagues, moderation of exam work, CPD programmes and it can feel one feeling a little inadequate no matter how hard you are trying.
  • Missing my little Sprog like mad.
  • I’ve actually had a really tough term with some of my GCSE students who have admitted that they don’t like History, they don’t know why they choose it, and their behaviour and effort has therefore been…difficult.

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Mama highs

  • So so many that I don’t know where to begin.
  • I suppose the key thing is just the genuine joy and happiness that Sprog brings to my life, my husband’s life and to everyone else he meets.  He is honestly the most smiley and cheeky little man going and luckily (or not) for him, he has inherited my great big gobby grin!
  • He is kissy, huggy, smiley, loving, angelic (I would only guarantee this whilst he’s asleep though), monsterous and amazing!
  • He just makes my heart melt.
  • Too soppy?! So how about the days out that we’ve had together – a summer and a winter trip to London, an epic adventure to America, days out at the farm, trips to the library and great baby activities. O, and making my loving group of Mummy friends!

Mama challenges

  • I will just pick two things as we all know that this parenting gig is no easy one. In the last year, I have left a whole range of emotions.  Far beyond what I have felt before.  There were really low times – this time last year I was really struggling to feel ok, to want to get going and I actually felt quite useless as a Mama.  But I’ve also experienced incredible highs like when Sprog took his first steps and I’ve never cried at so many happy things! The rollercoaster of emotion is one of the toughest and best things about being a parent.
  • Secondly, the utter, unrelenting and constant tiredness. Enough said.

I hope that when you sit back and reflect upon 2014 that no matter what chaos the universe has thrown at you, you can see positives and that as you plan for 2015, which we inevitably all do, you can look forward with anticipation and eagerness.  My plans involve shedding the remaining Mama tum… eek, and actually just remembering to enjoy my family as much as I possibly can.

It’s been lovely ‘meeting’ everyone this year and all that remains is for me to wish you all a fantastic New Year and a wicked 2015.

P.S.  If you’re stuck for ideas for NYE with a toddler, I came up with a few this week!

If you like what you’ve been reading, how about following me on Bloglovin’

Belle du Brighton

The Teacher’s A – Z of Christmas

Unlike many of the other blogs I read, I am not able to spend hours making wonderful crafty bits with Sprog over December. So here’s an idea of how my Christmas period looks in my little History teaching world.

*Disclaimer – take all of these with a pinch of salt… many are true and the hard reality of a teachers life…some are a bit of fun*

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A paper Christmas tree is just about as festive as it gets around here!

A
Agitated children – desperate to feel festive and free.

B
Bah Humbug to the workplace with no decorations, not even a tree!

C
Cold – the annual festive cold from work.

D
Department night out. This is always on a school night so that we can play take the piss out of the worst hangover the next day!

E
Elation at the final bell on the last day of term – us teachers literally bounce out of school.

F
Film lessons – shush! Don’t let senior leadership know!

G
Grumpy staff… “Leave me alone…I’d rather be drinking snowballs and eating mince pies”

H
Homework booklets to design for lots of “eager” students.

I
Inventive uses of cardboard boxes to make Christmas hampers for charity… you have never teachers so competitive, screw Sports Days, Christmas hampers are where it’s at!

J
Jealousy. I feel jealousy every school holidays towards parents who get to see their little people this often all year round.

K
Kids who are fed up of school, tired, grumpy and excited all at once.

L
Lack of presents; I’m a Secondary teacher which means that we get NOTHING. All you Primary teachers who get loads of chocolate and wine and biscuits and bath stuff … can go jump!

M
Mock exam marking… I have 30 sets of 3 ½ hour exam papers to mark over the holidays. Merry Christmas to me.

N
Nativity. No such fun in secondary schools I’m afraid. Sob sob.

O
Online shopping is surely the only way to get any shopping done when you work such silly hours!

P
Planning lessons for the next 5 weeks.

Q
Quiet voices. I do enjoy not having to feel the constant threat of my voice giving up after controlling excitable teens for the whole of December.

R
Rest and relaxation – I will manage some down time and hubby is off a lot which is great as we will get lots of family time.

S
Staff Secret Santa. A source of excitement and dread in equal measures around the school.

T
Tinsel around my computer screen, one of the little festive touches going.

U
Utter excitement. Maybe it is just me, but I LOVE Christmas.

V
Verging on crazy daisy at the amount of things (work) I need to do over the Christmas.

W
Wine. I plan to drink lots of it to help me forget about the term gone by and to help me to prepare for the next round.

X
Xhaustion…the key is in the word, I’m tired and it’s the letter ‘x’, enough said.

Y
Yule log – nothing to do with teachers – I literally just couldn’t think of anything else!

Zzzzzzz

And then the fun began...
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