The Teacher/Mum Juggle – How to not only Survive but THRIVE!
5 July 2020 - 5 min Read

We are so excited to have Sandy from @mrs_batty write this blog about her return to work after becoming a mum to her gorgeous son Arlo!

When Bridget and Shez from Top Teacher asked me to write a blog for their website, my first thought was excitement. My second thought was, “What do I write about?”. After asking my amazing followers on Instagram about what they wish they had known about returning to work after maternity leave. My third thought was, “How am I going to write this blog? I am not an expert!” 

And that is exactly that, I am not an expert.

 

But what I can do is write about my journey… 

 

My gorgeous son, goes to childcare 4 days a week and is looked after by grandparents on the other work day. Sending Arlo to childcare has meant that he has been able to spend the day exploring and socialising with his educators (whom he absolutely adores) and his friends from his nursery and the nursery next door. Since starting childcare, we have noticed a very happy boy who is just absolutely thriving. His one day a week with grandparents has also been priceless. The time that they get to bond is incredible and I am so grateful for that. 

Since being a bit more present on Instagram with my teaching/mum life. I have had numerous people message me and ask me about transitioning from maternity leave to teaching and how I juggle it all. 

 

These were the 3 top questions that commonly get asked: 

 

How do you cope with balancing family life and work?

There are so many aspects that play a part in how I balance family and work life. Most days I feel like I have everything under control and there are some rare days I feel like the world is spinning out of control and all I want to do is curl up in bed and go to sleep. 

These were some things that have helped me balance family life and work: 

Travel time: It took me 45 minutes to travel to school each morning and almost an hour at the end of the day. This was fine pre-baby but after having Arlo, I needed to ensure that I wasn’t spending this time on travel. So I ended up looking for a job with less travel time and was offered a job 13 minutes away from home! 

Be organised at work: I needed to be more organised with my to-do list (some people wouldn’t think it’s possible, but I have made it work for myself!). My to-do list is broken into two categories, Important and Non-Urgent. I make sure that I get everything completed from my Important to-do list to ensure that whatever has to be done is completed. Anything that is Non-Urgent can wait until later can be done when I have a spare afternoon (because I was able to catch up on all my marking during our lessons!) 

Be organised at home: I have a routine that has worked well for our family. This has needed to change a few times as Arlo has grown and developed but at the moment it looks like this and currently seems to be working well for us: 

  • Arrive home from childcare pick up and soak Arlo’s dirty clothes immediately.  
  • Husband cooks dinner while I help prep food/play with Arlo (we are lucky that our house is open plan so it is easy to play with Arlo whilst in the kitchen).  
  • Eat dinner together. 
  • Clear the table and play with Arlo as a family until bedtime.  
  • We sit with Arlo as he has his milk and then we read him a bedtime story together and then put him down in his cot. 

We are so lucky that he has predictable sleep routines so he is usually asleep by 7pm. Next we clean up the chaos from dinner, tidy the house of the toys and books that were taken out that day and then we are done! My husband and I are able to sit on the couch, spend time together and still get time to do some school work (if needed) and watch a couple of our favourite TV shows (The Office, Brooklyn 99 and Parks and Recreation are a few of our favourites!). 

 

What is your morning routine like? Is it a rush to get out the door? 

 

Yes, it is! But doing the following has helped us as a family get out the door with less stress: 

  • Lay out clothes the night before: The night before I lay out my clothes as well as Arlo’s. This saves 5-10 minutes of outfit choosing I would have had to do in the morning. 
  • Get my school bag and Arlo’s work bag ready: I make sure everything is packed so it is ready to grab and go. Anything that needs to be put in our bags in the morning are in a spot that is easy to find (e.g. coffee table, kitchen bench). 
  • Get on the same page: Get on the same page as your partner. My husband and I have our roles that we do each morning (I get the coffee and Arlo’s milk ready while my husband changes Arlo’s overnight nappy). We then get to sit in bed together reading a few books while having our morning drinks. When Arlo finishes his milk, it is go-time. We let Arlo play on his play mat/wander the house (he has just learnt how to walk!) while we take turns going in and out of the bathroom to supervise him. We also communicate with each other to ensure we know who is doing childcare pick up/drop off depending on after school staff meetings/extra-curricular activities.

 

Do you get the dreaded “mum-guilt” and if so, how do you cope with it? 

Mum guilt is real! Well, real for me anyway. There isn’t a week that goes by where I haven’t felt the pang of mum guilt rip through my heart. 

Some things that I keep telling myself are: 

  • Mum guilt is real and it is normal to feel those pangs of guilt – but don’t let it control and run over you. 
  • I need to spend time apart from Arlo. This may sound selfish (and some people might actually think it is!) but I find that if I spend all day with Arlo (especially if he was grumpy from being sick or teething), my patience starts to run very thin, which in turn can make me snappy and short tempered with him and my husband. Which wasn’t fair on either of them.
  • Arlo is thriving at childcare. He is learning to socialise with other children by sharing, communicating, responding appropriately as well as developing special bonds with his educators who are doting on him and the other children. 
  • Arlo is going through so many experiences at childcare that he would never gotten at home. The childcare centre we send him to has a big focus on outdoor/messy play which is great because we are not those kinds of parents! 
  • It makes the time we do spend together so much sweeter. Being apart from him during the day makes me look forward to picking him up from childcare because I get to see his face light up and run to me for a big hug. It makes our playtime at home so much more intentional and focused (reflecting back on my maternity leave, I think there were times when I would take for granted the time I spent with him because it was all day, every day, whereas now it is in the afternoon/evenings during the week and on weekends).

 

As I have written about my experiences and what has worked for my family and I, I feel like I need to put a preface out there and say that what has worked for my family may not work for yours, or parts of it may work. I hope that through sharing my experience, I can help shed some light for mums that are thinking about or are returning back to work, either part-time or full-time. 

Looking back over the past 6 months of returning back to work, I can say (at the moment), that I do not have any regrets. I am sure there will still be times when ‘mum guilt’ will kick in and I will feel like a lousy mum and wish that I could spend everyday with Arlo. But for the most part, I am so glad that I have been able to rediscover my love for teaching and have confidence in knowing that my son is in amazing care and taking part in amazing learning experiences every day.

Thank you Sandy for sharing your working mum journey so far! You make it look easy and you are doing an absolutely fabulous job at this teacher/mum gig!

 

 

 

 

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