As a mum with two small children, I have spent the past three years wrapped in a bubble. A bubble of innocence and the sweet smell of a sleeping baby. I've nurtured and my little ones are growing. And it's time to let go, just a little bit. It's time to begin to walk that fine line back into the world of work, and jobs, long drives home with the stereo blaring, and cold, early mornings with frost on the windows before the world is fully awake.
How do I prepare for this coming year?
1. I plan to be realistic about what I can do, and I will be open and honest about the amount of work I can take on. I don't want to let anyone down. Doing a good job is something I take great pride in. Having an “off” day or being below par is something I can't bring myself to do professionally. Or personally. I owe it to my small people to be the best mum I know how to be.
2. In the past three years, I've learned what it really is to face the unexpected and think on my feet. Everything from hospital stays to running after an escapee toddler at top speed, I have honed and developed so many skills. Not only that: I have spent the last year or two fine-tuning my behaviour and time management! I've had to occupy small children at short notice with few resources at my disposal, and I've learned the words to more nursery rhymes and songs than I would care to mention. I've done a lot of it with very little money and on not enough sleep. My teaching experience has been tremendously valuable to me now I am a mum, and I know that being a parent will unimaginably enrich my professional life.
3. Sometimes spending every day with two small people who don't yet really know how to be gracious is hard. There are days when I want to throw in the towel and start over, but you can't do that when you have a family. You keep on going. You tackle problems and you develop persistence. You learn patience. You discover ways of motivating yourself, and them, even when it has been a really difficult day. And you learn to accept that sometimes, a bad day is just that. A bad day. We all have them, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing. It's good to be able to put that into perspective.
4. And yet, I wouldn't change who I am and what I do. It's a cliché that a stay at home mum is everything, but it's true. I'm chief cook and bottle washer, nurse, engineer, social secretary, teacher, playmate, doctor, friend, entertainer, photographer and director. I can't imagine a life without my children. I love it, and I love them with all of my heart. I enjoy being with them, and I have great pleasure in finding out what makes them tick. I've learned how to interest and engage them, and keep them motivated to complete even the most routine of tasks on even the dullest of days. And I take great pride in that. I have always loved this about teaching, too, and being an early years teacher has meant that I can dive in and engage with whatever the children are doing, and wherever their learning is taking them. I become as enthusiastic as they are when I'm in the classroom. I know that, right now, I don't want to go back long term or full time. I want to enjoy my work, and have enthusiasm for what I do, and I will, as long as I know that I will be able to enjoy life with my own children.
5. Last but not least, I will look after myself. I will make sure I take care of my mental health. Being with small children can be exhausting, whether they belong to you or somebody else. At the end of the day, I'll need to find time to switch off, and leave my work at the door. The life of a working mum is never easy and I'll need to learn to be kind to myself. I'm sure there will be times I will find this juggling act a struggle and feel pulled in two directions at once but I'll learn.
So when September rolls around I'll be there, ready to go back to school.
Are you a SAHM mum thinking about a future back in the classroom? What are your concerns? What are you looking forward to? Tell us below!
By Resident Writer Jenny Smith