Part time parent…

Sorry for the radio silence. There’s not much free time now I’m juggling family life and working!

I’ve been back at work since last Monday following 9 months of maternity leave with my fourth (and final, ha!) baby. The last week and a half have gone pretty well, the children are happy spending time with their grandparents and cousins while we work, and have settled well into their new routine.

I thought mornings would be so chaotic but it’s amazing what getting up a bit earlier does for the morning routine! When I only had to get the big ones to school I would leave getting up until the very last minute and end up all stressed. Getting out of bed earlier is hard, especially after night awakenings, but worth it to have a calm and ordered start to the day.

I’ve enjoyed the last few days of getting back into work. I’m a part timer, on a 0.6 FTE contract, which I feel very grateful for. No way could I cope with the demands of full time teaching along with all my children! There have been ups and downs but, thankfully, the ups have outweighed the downs. Getting to know a new class has been fun, as has taking on a year ten class that I last taught when they were year sevens. They’re all so tall now! Catching up with all the changes that have taken place is hard though. So much has changed that I find I have to clarify everything, I feel a bit like the newbie again.

I feel awful saying it but it’s nice to have a few hours where someone else is looking after my children. I felt my mood sinking in the last few months and being back at work has allowed me to have a valid excuse for getting someone to take care of my children and let me have a break! That sounds mad. It’s hardly a break, going to work, but it’s a break from the endless laundry, the toddler tantrums, the teething baby and the repetition of it all.

Returning to work has given me a new perspective. I am enjoying my children again, excited to pick them up after work, and I’m seeing the world through fresh eyes…although they could still do with a few more hours sleep!

The end is nigh (of my mat leave, that is!)

The last few Wednesdays have come round so quickly. This is my last Wednesday on maternity leave so I expect I won’t have as many projects on the go once I’m back to work. I start back on Monday but that’s a bank holiday and next week is half term so I should manage to get a bit more hooking in before things get too chaotic once more!

I’ve mixed feelings about going back, which is to be expected after maternity leave! I’m going to miss my two little people so much. The last few months have been pretty challenging and I’ve had some really difficult times, but I’ve loved being there for them, 24/7, so much and seeing how much they’ve grown and developed has been a real privilege. I’ll miss my big two too although they probably won’t notice my absence so much with their being at school. I’m on a part time contract so will still be able to pick them up four times a week and drop them off two or three times.

People usually try to console those going back to work with the thought of hot cuppas and toilet breaks in peace. Teaching isn’t one of those jobs that lends itself to getting a hot cuppa and to be honest, I usually drink so little I don’t need the loo! But there are advantages to going back. Firstly, the money! SMP isn’t great so a bit of extra cash will be nice. Secondly, my colleagues. They’re all lovely and really supportive. I enjoy working with them. And of course, the children/pupils/learners, whatever the government is referring to them as this week. Those amazing young people who test you to your limits and make the good times great and the hard times worthwhile. I’m looking forward to seeing the ones I have taught before and getting to know new classes.

So, while I get back into the swing of things, crocheting will have to take a back seat. Although I will be sure to keep something on the go as a relaxation activity once all my homework is done!

This week’s works in progress:

Slouchy hat: nearly done. Daughter likes it but wants it a bit “slouchier” so I have to frog the last couple of rows and add a few more of the double crochet rows.

Poncho: done! Will show you pics on finished Friday!

Amigurumi Unicorn: One leg done! That took me flipping ages! If anyone has any tips about how to do a magic ring with a 3mm hook they would be greatly appreciated. Once I’m a few rows in it’s fine but those first rows are so fiddly.

Right, back to being referee between the baby and the toddler!

Teachers’ strike

Today, my second child is off school. His teacher is striking. No other teachers in that school are striking though which has made that particular class very unpopular, and #1 child was pretty furious at the injustice of it all!

I’m in a funny situation, as a teacher who is a member of the NUT, I would absolutely be joining the strike action today if I wasn’t on maternity leave. I fully support #2’s teacher in his decision to strike and I hope that it will make an impression on Mr Gove et al.

However, I feel guilty that I am pleased my eldest child’s teacher ISN’Tย striking. She is in year 6, the most important year of her school life so far, and is a few weeks away from taking her SATs. While I don’t agree with the way 10 and 11 year olds are put under such pressure in order to meet targets, I am well aware that her results will influence her secondary education. For that reason alone, this school day is really precious to her. She knows she has to grasp every learning opportunity.

Is this hypocritical? Probably. But, as a parent, it has made me appreciate what teachers do even more. I’m sure parents across the country with children who are in critical years of their education feel the same, as well as the parents who are inconvenienced by having to find childcare for the day or take annual leave.

How will it affect the people who govern our country though? Yes, they’ll see we’re not happy (although I’m sure they are well aware) but it’s doubtful they will personally feel the effects. It all seems a bit futile now. I only started my teaching career five years ago, but it has been peppered with strike action, suffered major upheaval at the hands of Gove and the constant threat of Ofsted has affected everyone, children included.

I don’t know what the future holds for the teaching profession, but I certainly can’t see things changing soon. This makes me feel sad, not only for schools and their staff, but most of all for the children, the “learners”, who will suffer the effects far more than we can realise now.

As for those striking, it’s a pretty good bet that many will spend the day trying to make a dent in their “to do” list.