Now, I never heard anyone say that being a Work at Home Mum is an easy option, but nobody ever told me it was really hard either. I mean, I knew that being a working mum was hard enough (I’ve been a mum for 8 years and I’ve worked one job or another since I was 16) but I admit that I did assume working from home would be different. Easier, perhaps? Maybe not easier, but less stressful certainly. It turns out though, that changing the work place only changes stresses- it doesn’t eliminate them.
When my eldest was born, I took a year out from work and returned part time when she was 11 months old. I soon took on full time hours with a job change and then went on to do a PGCE. By the time I had qualified as a teacher I was pregnant with the pre-schooler and really wishing that I had taken notice when I was warned that teaching was a demanding job when you have kids.
After I had Luka, I knew that working full time wasn’t really an option anymore, not if I was teaching. It’s not just the actual working hours that the job demands, it’s all the stuff you bring home too. It’s the weekends spent planning, making resources or stressing because you have an observation first thing on Monday morning. It’s the parents evenings, the Christmas productions, the summer fayres… it’s the huge commitment that teaching requires. It’s a lifestyle, not just a job. And yes, it may be the most family friendly job with regards to the holidays, but in so many other ways family suffers. Or, at least, mine did.
I never really had the chance to get into teaching properly. The school I worked at was one of a kind in the town where I live. The kids that go there are 90% EAL (they speak English as an additional language) and they come from so many different backgrounds- refugess, asylum seekers, extreme poverty… Half the battle of a working day could be trying to decipher behaviour deriving from so many issues, or communicating on a really basic level. Beyond that, the usual teaching pressures made the job highly stressful for me. Never mind the fact that I had kids at home who needed me. And then I only managed to complete half a term before my maternity leave with the pre-schooler; I returned for one year part time then did one more term before leaving to have the baby. So although I’ve been a teacher for 5 years, I’ve only ever really taught for 2 years and a bit. And it was HARD work.
So swapping from teaching to working from home seemed like a sensible option and most days it is. I am home more. I get to take the eldest to school and the pre-schooler to nursery. I get to spend every day with the baby. I can be here to pick up, make dinner and attend parents evening. If the kids are ill, I am here. If school closes because of snow, I am here. But sometimes that’s the problem. I’m here.
I miss being out of the house and mixing with colleagues. I miss being in the staff room having a cup of coffee with the other teachers, or even standing on a windy playground holding a skipping rope. I miss going somewhere. I miss…
I miss the kids. No matter how much I am at home with them, I am still working. I still feel I should be making cakes, or drawing pictures or reading stories more. I still feel I am doing a half hearted job. I’m rushing them and I’m pushing them into activities they don’t really want to do. I am thinking of work and not them. I am enjoying work and wanting to do that sometimes when they want to play.
I don’t think working mums ever feel they get the balance right. I’ve spent so much time planning activities for the kids and making sure I can provide them with stimulation, learning experiences and valuable life lessons. I work hard at being a mum. I also work hard. It’s hard work!
Today’s 365 is one part of our play room (which used to be the dining room!) ; the creative area. This is where my split working personality is evident. I think I am turning my home into a classroom…