One term down…going back to work wasn’t so bad after all.

It’s been a busy three months, so busy I have once neglected writing but here I am with a little update.

Basically: I survived.

No, that’s being hard on myself. I did more than survive. I was bloody awesome.

I guess when I look back to this first term back at work teaching part time I can break it down in to four parts: my children, my house, my teaching and me. So, here goes.

Part time is great. I am at work Monday, Wednesday and Friday which means the girls go to before school care and kindy early on those days. I drop them off at 7.30am and then drive 15 minutes to work. My first week back, I had to creep into their room and wake them up in the darkness. For six and a half years I have been striving for them to sleep longer and here I was waking them up. It all felt so wrong. A couple of weeks in and they were naturally waking up. They know on “quick days” as we call them that they need to get up and get dressed while I’m in the shower, and they will have breakfast there, not at home. For the most part it’s working. They love seeing their friends in the morning and I’m lucky that where we are this is affordable ($21 for each child for those three days before school). The only problem was last Monday (school holidays) when the youngest demanded she still wanted to go to kindy at 7.30am!

In the afternoons I’m fortunate enough to have my mum pick them up, bring them home and give them afternoon tea. I’m home by four at the latest and pick up from there. I’m so grateful she can do it and the routine is working well. 

So, check to number one on the list. The children have survived…with smiles on their faces.

Next up, the house. It’s still standing! That’s the main thing and for the most part it is still in order. I do like order in my life. It’s important. A month or so in, we decided to start getting My Foodbag and it has been life changing. Yes, I no longer have to plan meals and do the shopping at the weekend but more importantly we are eating a much wider range of healthier food than we we before. No more Friday night calls to Hell’s pizza to deliver! And here’s the weird thing, the kids are eating it without complaint. I’m pretty sure there’s some weird psychology going on here but basically because the lady at My Foodbag is choosing what we eat (their words) and not mummy they will eat it! Win win. 

The laundry is a pain but I’m getting into habits that I can sustain when I go full time next year (more about that later). I stick it on at night before bedtime (electricity is cheaper then too) then hang it out to dry in the morning. It seems routine and organisation is key in this blog post.

Okay, my teaching…I was nervous about going back. Could I remember how to teach? Would they run circles around me? The usual Sunday night dread and fears, but instead of two days away from school, six plus years. But you know what? It was fine. Absolutely fine. In fact, it was awesome. I love it. Like, really really love it. Being a classroom teacher and no longer a middle manager, all of my time at school is spent on teaching, planning and marking. I’m trying new stuff and the kids are responding well. I’m remembering my knowledge of literature and my teaching skills and it’s an absolute joy. And teenage boys? They are amazing. They get such a bum deal sometimes but their energy, wit and spirit is worth going to work for. Remind me next year not to say yes to any responsibility outside of the classroom though. 

Being a parent I have clearly learnt how to get things done quickly and multi-task. I have got nearly all of my planning and marking done at school, rather than bringing it home. I have made a real effort to communicate frequently with the parents of the kids I teach (because I can appreciate now how important that is). It’s like I’m the teacher I was before, but a better version. 

And so yes, I have been offered, and accepted, a full time permanent role at the school I’m teaching at. I didn’t have to think about it for long and it feels good to have that security. There’s a lot of changes happened at the school but maybe I’ll talk about that in another blog post sometime.

Finally, me. I have survived. I am here to tell the tale. The gym has gone out the window unfortunately and there is less time to do the things I love but thankfully I do love what I do, and I think being away from it for so long and coming back to it has reminded me about that. It has also meant that time with my own family feels that little bit more valuable. Weekends are a premium now; mornings are a lot more lazy with cartoons, cuddles and crumpets, but that would have happened anyway with them both being at school as of this November.

I enjoy earning my “own” money (even though it all goes into a big pot that we share) but more importantly I enjoy having stuff to talk about other than the kids. I enjoy having grown up discussions (about what’s on Netflix or what so and so had for dinner last night) and I love the intellectual challenge of teaching. 

So there we go. It is all going swimmingly, and I know people do this all the time, that some people go back to work when their kids are babies etc…but I’m talking about me. We chose as a family for me to stay home with them as long as I could and it was most definitely the right decision for us. I would not change that for the world, but this is the start of a new phase and I, for one, love it.

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The lunch bag that marks the end of an era.

I went shopping the other day and bought a lunch bag. Do you like it? 

It may seem insignificant but it marks a huge change that’s about to happen in my life. For six and a half years I have been a stay at home mum and in a week I am going back to work.

It was always going to happen at some point and the plan had been to be available for relief teaching for two days a week but I got made an offer I couldn’t refuse for a job share three days a week. It was something that I didn’t expect to happen in a high school situation with a six day rolling timetable, but here it is with three fixed days a week until the end of the year. I am excited and nervous, but mainly excited.

In my head I had a blog post planned about writing a CV in search of the job that would mark my return to paid work; my skills now include child wrangling, making animals out of pipe cleaners, multitasking to an Olympic standard, fangirling, writing silly stories…the list goes on but for now my CV can remain untouched. 

I am going back to teach at the school I worked at before I went on maternity leave in 2010. This is the school that interviewed me for my initial teaching job in NZ on the phone the night before I got married in the UK. The school that has invested time and money into my professional development and the school that provided me with my Kiwi family. It really is like going home when I walk into that place. 

It is also the school where I had positions of responsibility and that has very high expectations of staff and students. This is a good thing but I have changed, more so because my situation has changed. My priority now is my family and it will be different being back in the department in a part time role without that responsibility. I am sure there will be times I have to bite my tongue or sit on my hands. I know that I am going to be that teacher who leaves as soon as they can after the school bell and then be up late at night marking and planning when my children are asleep so I can spend more time with them when I get home. I’m okay with that.

So these school holidays I have been getting organised; Getting the house in order, sorting out before and after school care (thankfully my mum can pick the girls up). There is more to do but it will all be okay, and if it’s not, we will all be okay. It will take time to adjust and I know we will sometimes be living in a mess and eating weetbix for tea, but no one will die and we will all be okay. It just needs a change of perspective.

Going back to work will be good for everyone but I think I’m safe in saying it will be best for me. It will stop my mind turning to mush and I will have adult company once more. This thought alone makes me happy and a happy mum means a happy kids.

So there we are. A big change ahead. It’s not going to be easy but it’s time for it to happen. Hopefully I’ll be able to share my journey on the way back to work with you…warts and all.