The Working Parents dilemma

I love my job.

I have said this before. I’m a teacher and I really love my job.

What I don’t love are the hours; the paperwork and the time commitment needed. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to be a good teacher and a healthy mum/partner. So many teachers are leaving the profession before they have really started. The holidays help but when you are working such long hours in the term time and don’t engage with your own children, something is very wrong.

So, here I am working more and finding myself at the same crossroads whether to work part time or full time. How did that happen, again?

Let me tell you a story….

Once there was a great teacher who worked hard at her job. She loved it. Then she had 2 young children of her own. Suddenly, there was the immense guilt of not always being there for her own children. She had an amazing partner but she wanted to be there for her children when they needed her. The teacher was also very committed to the children in her charge and would worry about them as if they were her own. She juggled and juggled and was promoted to a management position which meant more money but more juggling was involved. She was good at her job and because of that she was given more work which she juggled some more without complaint. The teacher went to university to study for a Masters during this time throwing more into the mix yet still she juggled. As her children grew they became involved in sports at the weekend so she couldn’t rest at the weekends as perhaps she should. But she was a working parent and that is what we do…until….

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The teacher looked up and realised that not all was well with her family. She realised that her family needed her at home. She also realised that she was unhealthy both physically and mentally and in order to sort out all of this, she needed to stop. Stop and breathe. Stop and live. Stop and take a pause from teaching.

After a whole year of being at home, the teacher began to enjoy life again. Her family healed and she felt present in all of their lives. A new fur baby arrived with a gorgeous brown nose which allowed her to get outside for long walks and to feel the fresh air for the first time in ages. She reconnected with nature; her first love and realised that this was living. She reconnected with friends lost due to having no time. The teacher began to exercise again and found that she needed it.  However, soon teaching called to her to return and she threw herself back into what she loved but what made her unhealthy. The reality of full time teaching had been forgotten and the same stresses returned. The teacher recognised this and luckily was able to work part time.

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Walking in the woods

Part time teaching is what the teacher needed and this worked out well as her children grew around her. However good teachers get asked to work more and being the sort of person who loves teaching, the teacher accepted all the new work given to her. However, full time work is bringing back all the same feelings and she feels at a crossroads again in her life. Will there be a time after her children have grown that she feels she can work full time or should she stay as a part time teacher? Part time teaching is not the career she imagined but perhaps is the career that she needs.

What is the answer? I honestly don’t think women can ‘have it all’ and survive!

What works for your family and do you have any tips?

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Mother of Teenagers

3 Little Buttons
Mum Muddling Through

Lucy At Home

76 thoughts on “The Working Parents dilemma

  • You are right, working and being as a parent is ver hard to oneself. But our goals and hope are what making us endure the pressure of life. So we have to sacrifice, nothing can come equally in the way we want. Insistence is a main reason making continue up until we achieve, awesomely written! Keep it up❤️

  • I can so relate. Years ago, I was a counselor in an elementary school. Different job, same stress. I loved my own kids of course, but I worked with troubled kids in my school, and they so needed me! I loved them AND my job. But after 9 years, my job started not loving me back. I was sick all the time and I was convinced if I didn’t make a major change, it would kill me. So I left. Financially, it was tough, but it healed me and my family. I think you’ll look back years from now and know that you made the right choice – part time seems like the right balance.

  • It saddens me that the stress on teachers is so extreme that you are even in this predicament but if you want my advice looking back from the giddying place where all my daughters are grown and (mostly) flown …. I would take the middle ground and, if it were affordable, the stay at home ground. When the children have moved on a little it will all still be there IF you still want it. And you will be able to give your all without compromising your health and your family. It is always the ones who care most deeply who suffer most harshly and your piece really makes me weep …. your love of the children you teach shines through and you are punished for caring, in essence. Bon courage, my friend xx

      • Good grief that sounds daft. I remember when everyone retired at 60. I can get my pension in 4 1/2 years. Just missed getting it earlier by a few weeks. I will likely keep on writing and gardening…😊

  • I had a full time career and 4 kids at home, I managed to juggle it all but work was left in the office at the end of each day. I taught for a year after the kids left home and packed it in after 12 months, i never seemed to get any time off and was always having to take work home with me, it was just too much and not worth the hassle #tweenteensbeyond

  • Sophie, in your heart you know the benefits of a healthy ‘you’. A healthy you = a healthy, well balanced family. You work hard, you always have. The middle line, the part time line gives you the job you love, the health and relaxation you deserve, nit only time for the children but time for you and and hubbie too. Embrace those opportunities, Carpe diem! You deserve to ‘live’ a life too, not simply ‘exist’. Money is nothing if you dont have time, health or energy to enjoy it. I am back in education as a TA but get to cover some teaching. By the time you take of the hours of prep, marking and meetings, the hourly rate isn’t too much different. Live the life YOU want to live…the power is yours. Take time to just ‘be’ as well as a little of the job you love. You know it has worked. Teacher’s need to say ‘no’ from time to time. Life and enjoyment of life are too precious to abandon.

  • I have friends who are teachers and so much work goes into the prep! I never used to realise how much home work teachers had to do themselves. It’s hard when you feel like you don’t have enough time for everything. I actually believe there is no such thing as a work life balance. It’s more about working out a work life juggle that works for you and your family as everyone is different. #coolmumclub

  • I also love teacher job it is the best for mothers because it’s the one job where you can go home same time as your kids go after school. But still this job has many tough commitments and hard work. Sometimes stay backs after school hours are very irritated. #Tweens Teens Beyond

  • You sound like a superwoman! I’ve worked 30 hours a week since my daughter turned 1 but am not restricted to set hours – I do some evenings and weekends working mainly from home so it’s easier to slot it in after the girl is in bed. It’s still difficult though when she wants to play with me, and knows I’m home, but I have to work so daddy is almost the ‘booby prize’. He’s just started uni this month so have been considering going back to full time, but really, I don’t want to at all. I love my Mondays with my daughter when it’s just us. Hope you find a solutions that works for you <3 #coolmumclub

  • Oh don’t get me started! I could talk for hours on this. I am firmly of the opinion that we are selling our young women a lie. We tell them to get a good career that they love and to become independent but what happens when they have a family. Yes there are loving Dads and yes there is high quality child care but what if YOU want to be the one looking after your children. There is very little truly flexible work out there that Mums can fit around their families. I was an academic, I have a PhD, published in leading journals, presented at international conferences, the lot. I gave up my job after I had my third child because I simply could not carry on. I was not being the sort of Mum that I wanted to be. The years I spent being a stay at home Mum were blissful and when they were older I started some freelance work which is, of course, not that well paid. Right I’ll stop there! Thanks so much for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond and I hope that ‘she’ works out what is best for her. Fab post xx

    • Perhaps we need s proper chat over wine! I feel like you get it Sharon. It’s the lie sold to us growing up under Thatcher…. actually not a lie as such but a misconception that woman can and want it all. Personally I just want to not feel like I have to “get through” each day. Where’s the joy in that? Anyway, I’m now on the school run and must dash…. that may go in my gravestone….”must dash….” 😃

  • I think this dilemma applies to many different career paths. I feel now that fate threw me a lifeline by making me redundant as I wasn’t really fulfilled in the halfway house of my part time, post baby career. Who knows what the future holds, but in a way, I have never looked back.
    Good luck finding the right place to find happiness x
    And thanks for linking to #coolmumclub (Posts like this totally put me off the idea of teacher training!)

  • Oh Sophie it is so tough and there isn’t a perfect answer is there? After my eldest was born I worked full-time, crazy hours, lots of travelling and paying a fortune to a nanny to look after him as rigid nursery hours would not work for me. I went part-time initially with my youngest and then stopped completely. Like you I was exhausted, run down, suffering from panic attacks and overly stressed. Our health is our wealth and we only get one chance in this world to be there for our children and whilst there have been massive moments of boredom and frustration at abandoning my career to be at home, I have loved being here for my children and am sure our relationship wouldn’t be what it is if I hadn’t been. Now they are older and need me less I am picking up freelance work but the difference now is I pick and choose, I do what I can when I can and if it doesn’t work I say no. It is a lovely place to be. It is all about finding the right balance. Good luck. #TweensTeensBeyond

  • I really wish I had the ability to work part time, because you are spit on, and that picture of the hand rising out of the water beautifully illustrates my feelings a lot of the time. Bravo for you, friend! #BlogCrush xoxo

  • The age old question and my answer to you here is, part-time. If you can. I really don’t think us ladies give ourselves enough credit for all that we do that isn’t work. And then of course, the very familiar situation of being part-time and then working full time for the same money. I wish you luck with your decision but it sounds to me as though you have already made it. Thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

  • You don’t need any tips. You have the answer. Nothing wrong with saying No to more work. Take good care of yourself, then you’ll be able to return to full-time someday. Good teachers are soooo important and can make an impact in students’ lives even when they’re only part-time. Wishing you all the best.

  • Oh this post is so brilliantly written! I think it’s so hard to find a good balance. I trained as a teacher so I know how time-consuming it can be, as well as how utterly brilliant it is too. But there’s always that pull to be at home too. Such a difficult question to answer. I don’t think there ever is a “perfect scenario” – just one that is good enough #blogcrush

  • Oh what a post! I found myself nodding the whole way through. I had all of these feelings and eventually handed my notice in on my career in London. We had the fulltime Nanny and I worked out of hours too on call. It was a more than 24/7 job and my family were suffering. I didn’t want to leave my career though as I loved it but I guess I loved my family more (rightly so!). I didn’t go back. I changed my career to work from home. I am happier and the children most definitely are but there is a part of me that misses the career girl. I won’t go back like some people always say I could. Life has changed for me now – that was definitely a different era to be popped in a different box. I’m glad you’re happier now. It’s scary how we can take on so much and go so far down a route before we realise the damage we are doing to ourselves. We need to take those steps to look after ourselves for sure! #DreamTeam

    • I’m so glad it isn’t just me though, Helen. I’ve been amazed at the support of the lovely blogging community and the kind words. It was a tricky week last week but all much calmer here in the old house this week! Thank you for your kind words. X

  • Oh I can relate to this is so very many ways. I think your ending question is perfect and one I have often asked myself. I don’t think it is possible to have it all without constantly treading water and going under every so often. It’s a lot of pressure and when you don’t have much time, I don’t think anyone can really do one thing really well. Thanks so much for sharing with the #DreamTeam xx

  • I think “having it all” is a myth that just piles guilt onto people. Compromise is a way of life. I hope you find a balance that works well for you, I can’t imagine it’s easy to do that. #BlogCrush

  • I can really relate to this. It’s a constant juggling act and for me part time work is the answer, although I find myself still trying to a full time employee and full time mum’s duties but in part time hours. I hope you find the right way forward for you. x

  • My mother was a college professor but there was not even a single day when I did not carry my lunch box to school. She woke up at 5.00 in the morning and slept well past midnight after serving us dinner and preparing for the chapter which she had to teach the next day. I think it is more about tenacity, courage and perseverance. Parenting and job simultaneously does take a toll on your health. One has to be extremely meticulous especially working women about calcium and vitamin intake as their health can deteriorate rapidly after a certain age. Even now after her retirement my mother is still involved in lot of social work.

    Me and my wife are finding it difficult, my wife had to give up on her job to raise our children as she was finding it extremely difficult to cope up in a pressure cooker like situation, she lost her health in process and had to take vitamin D and Calcium supplements.
    we have been delving for a part time opportunity for her but without much success. But I am keen that she takes up full time job once my little once my little one steps into play school

    I have written a blog post on the subject. You might like
    https://www.obsoletereality.com/some-dignity-is-it-too-much-to-ask/

    • I’m sorry to hear about your wife and her health. It is indeed tricky to juggle looking after little children and give your all to a full time job….I know because that is what I do! I wish you luck and good health. X

  • I love this story. It’s very relatable to a lot of women out there. The bottom line is, we have difficult choices to make. Teaching is your passion, and probably always will be. But your children are only children for a short amount of time, if you think of the big picture. You’ll never get this time back, and your children know when you are present or not. As hard as it is, we almost always put our children first before ourselves. Hopefully when they are grown, you can return to your passion with full force, more time and devotion and really enjoy it without hurting anyone. Best of luck. #dreamteam

  • I have totally been there. I’m not a teacher but a previous 50 hour+ role that involved training new and existing managers for the company felt exactly the same. The more I done, the more they wanted and it was the family that lost out. I eventually quit when I was pushed too far but for me, the damage was already done. I can totally see your struggles because it was me too. I now have hopefully found the balance and things are good. I hope you can find it too again #blocrush

  • I have been meaning to read this post for a while so am so pleased I have -you have articulated much of what I am feeling right now! Yes I’m part-time but I am being asked to do more and more again at school and it’s meaning I am stretching myself more and more again…. I feel guilty that for much of the working week other people’s children get the best of me and I too care for the kids in my charge greatly and so find it hard to switch off and can be emotionally drained from the day…. I gave up all my paid responsibility when I went part-time but in reality do lots of whole school stuff still…Argggh – I think the year off/career break is sounding very tempting right now! Anyway, enough about me – I really hope you’ve had a good week and the juggling hasn’t been too bad…. xx #blogcrush

  • I am with you on this journey my friend!! I gave up my staff job to set up business with an old colleague – which could work from home and to a certain extent around the kids… but bloody hell is it hard work. I see them more, but I also seem to work more. Is there such a thing as work/life balance?! If you find it, can you please let me know? All the best xx #blogcrush

  • If your heart and your health is saying you need to be home with your children (and it is), please follow that. I worked at home, part-time, for the family business as our children were growing up. We sacrificed a lot in income, but it was 100% worth it. My girls are both now grown and they have told me they appreciate the childhood they received (lots of freedom and unscheduled time to play, think, and create). I wouldn’t have done it differently for all the money in the world. You cannot replace those years with those relationships. Good luck to you! <3

    • Thank you someone for your wise words and also taking the time to write such a supportive comment. I think you may be right! X

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