Work Life Balance: A SAHM’s guide to getting back into supply teaching

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?

Work life balance teacher SAHM supply teaching1. 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

 

Show Me Show Me Skills!

I've been fortunate enough to be able to stay at home full time with both of my pre-school age children, and while I'm not quite ready to make the leap back to work, I recognise that what I do day to day doesn't stand in isolation, and that I will be able to transfer the experiences I have developed in my job as a parent to my role in the classroom, and enhance my skills and expertise along the way. It has taken time to believe in myself, and to appreciate that being a stay at home mum has added to, rather than detracted from, my portfolio of skills. When you're not a member of the workforce for any reason, it's easy to forget your professional capabilities, and not see them in yourself. I decided to sit down and write a list of some of the skills I use every day that would prove useful in a classroom environment, and share them with you.

Parenting Skills transferred to supply teaching1. Facilitation

My children have many and varied interests…from space to sticker books to singing. They love to make, create and imagine. And one of my most important roles is to help them do that. I encourage their passions, and help ignite their enthusiasms and bring them to life. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly confident this is something I'd be able to utilise in the classroom!

2. Problem solving

In our house, we spend a lot of time talking about being “problem solvers”. I encourage my three year old to look for solutions and try to think of creative ways of arriving at them. It enables her to think for herself and to value her own contribution. I hope this will help her to develop a growth mindset, and allow her to see herself as a resilient learner. This is also something that we want for the children we teach.

3. Teamwork

My husband and I believe parenting is something we do as a team. We each have equal responsibility for our children, and we each have equal input into how we choose to raise them. And we believe it is healthy for our children to be involved in our family decisions. Teamwork means sharing responsibility, creating a dynamic where everyone is valued and where all contributions are recognised. It's just as important to the family as in the work environment.

4. Organisation

Mums have to be organised. Getting from A to B on a wing and a prayer is not only difficult with two young children to cater for, it's also absolute chaos! Being ready to go out first thing in the morning, and being prepared to spend the whole day outside, plan for changes in the weather, anticipating hunger and thirst, and even toileting accidents, are all part and parcel of the job. Keeping my children as engaged and entertained as possible, and looking after their belongings, are all valuable attributes in the class teacher.

5. Prioritising

Making things happen when you need them to happen. Knowing what the most important thing on the never ending to do list of motherhood is, and ensuring it gets done. The small things that oil the wheels of family life, and keep it running smoothly. Something every good teacher needs to be able to do effectively.

6. Communication

Communication is a two way process. Learning to listen as a parent is just as important as what we say. In our house, we encourage our children to engage with us, and hope they see themselves as having an active role within our family dynamic. We want them to feel valued and invested, and I hope that this is something that would translate well to the teaching world.

7. Compromise

As parents, we all soon learn that our children may not have exactly the same idea for the outcome to any given situation that we do. We learn to be flexible with our approach, and we develop any number of ways of saying the same thing. We try one thing, and if that doesn't work, we try something else. Sound familiar? It should.

8. Discipline

My job as a parent is to give my children the tools to help them to grow into successful and capable adults. They don't need me to do things for them. They need me to teach them to do things for themselves. They need someone they can trust to help them to develop their own moral compass. This is something that has direct correlation in the classroom. Students need teachers who believe in them, and are committed to helping them to become self motivated learners.

There you go. Eight skills I have honed outside the classroom. What are yours? Let us know below!

By Resident Writer Jenny Smith