My working mum dilemma


This post is about my current work dilemma, it is not should I work or not, I enjoy working and want to continue working part time, its trying to decide what I want such a role to look like.  Late in the  last school year, I finally accepted a promotion to a senior position as a member of the leadership team in my school. I say finally, because I have been at my school for many years now and have been invited to apply for senior positions before. I never did as I was either undergoing fertility treatment, going through the adoption process or had a young family. As anyone who works in education will attest, it’s a demanding and consuming job and at these times, it was an easy decision not to apply for the promotion as I would not be able to do the senior job it as I would want to. Fortunately, I never felt the need to prove myself or climb the career ladder and was genuinely happy being a classroom teacher. When I returned to work after my adoption leave I worked 2 days a week and this has gradually increased as the children went to school and I have taken on additional duties to support the school. Over the last few years,  I have negotiated to work 22 hours a week over 4 days in school. This being teaching, I easily do another 10 hours a week at home and there is the constant thinking of work, checking emails etc.. The hours have been key to me being able to work, my employers have been very supportive and flexible and I do all the school runs except for one afternoon which Mr S does. This is so important for me, I need to have that daily contact with the children’s school as one child has a full time 1:1 TA and I need to liaise with her for feedback and to work together to provide the best support. My working hours  can make for some crazy school runs, gates open at 8.45am, I settle the children in their classrooms, run to my car, drive across town and then lead a school assembly at 9am, at the end of the day, I am always running out of work and hoping all the traffic lights are green, there is a parking space nearby and be expectantly waiting at the classroom door. I am so grateful to my employers to allow me to work as I do and one of the reasons I took on my position this year, which was negotiated on my historical working hours was to show my support to them. However, I was still unsure whether I could truly commit to a senior position and asked for a provision that all parties would  meet by Easter 2017 to discuss the situation and to mutually decide if I continue in post or return to teaching and a full time appointment made. I am conscious that this time is approaching and its nearly decision time. I genuinely don’t know what to do, there are some aspects of the job which are great, working with colleagues on their professional development, supporting a NQT, helping to design our curriculum and doing some innovative work with our SEN students, however there are frustrations, meetings, meetings and meetings, exasperation at the bureaucracy and protracted decision making prevalent in education, though I should add this is mainly external and the one which I was always worried of, the pressure of being a part time senior member of staff, the never ending to do list and my professional motivation to try and do it all. As a teacher, I will always take work home but I recognise that work is creeping into home life more and more.

At the start of this year after a pretty manic Autumn term, I began to reflect on my life and started to attempt to work out who I am and what I want to do. I am working through a self help book, I think its one of the few I’ve ever read called Designing Your Life. Rather than just reading it I am doing the tasks too and its helpful, I don’t have the answers yet but its enabling me to understand why I do what I am doing. For example, I didn’t realise the effect of my Dad’s unemployment in my teenage years and I think my strong work ethic comes from this difficult time. Mr S is self employed and I’ve always felt it important that my permanent job balances the unpredictability of his, a strange logic given in the 19 years we’ve been together he has always had plenty of work and no periods of instability, yet I think my job helps give me the security I crave. My job is not simply about stability though, I love teaching and I cannot think of another career I would like to pursue so my work design is not about finding me but finding a balance. The balance is not simply from work, aside from my little family I would like to spend more time with friends and my wider family, go to the gym, run for longer and more often, be creative etc.. but I need to create that time. I don’t think there’s a magic formula for the perfect balance, it’s what suits you and your family needs best at the time and compromises will always have to be made.


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