BY CLARE DEAS (GUEST WRITER)
A question that I get asked all the time is how do I fit everything into my busy schedule of being a Headteacher of a Primary School while also juggling family life with an 8 year old and a very lively one year old! The simple answer would be coffee…. but I will try explain a wee bit more about how we function as a family in this blog post. I am a Headteacher of a Primary School and work full time.
Firstly, a wee bit about us. I’m Clare and I am pushing 40… eek! (How I feel about that is a whole other story!) I am engaged to Jason who is the most wonderful partner and incredible Daddy to Emily and Charlie. Emily is a confident, bright 8 year old with a fiery attitude (I often wonder where she gets the attitude from but I am assured that I was exactly the same when I was that age! My mother tells me that it’s karma!) Charlie is 15 months and is so well natured, inquisitive and an absolute charmer.. he is however a wee climber so he definitely keeps us on our toes!
I absolutely love my job and always wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. To lead a school as the headteacher is an absolute privilege and it one that I relish. It is a job that comes with a high level of stress and challenge but also an extremely high level of job satisfaction and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Finding the right balance between work and home life can sometimes be a challenge but I genuinely feel like we have it nailed and Jason and I work really well as a team.
Jason works from home so I think that most certainly helps as he is here in the morning to help get the kids ready for nursery and school. Jason tends to get Charlie up, dressed and gives him his breakfast allowing me time to get ready. I actually don’t know how I would cope with the morning rush if Jason worked in an office and had to be out the door early! Mornings are always a manic time in the house and I have been known to press the snooze button one too many times on the alarm which makes it even more stressful! It is well known that I love my sleep and I can be a tad cranky if I don’t get a minimum of 8 hours!
I do try my best to have things organised the night before to make the morning run smoothly like having my outfit laid out and Emily’s packed lunch made but there always seems to be something that happens that holds us up and usually results in me yelling…. ‘Just find your shoes and put them on your feet!’ (Well that is the polite version of what I usually end up shouting!)
Charlie goes to a private nursery most of the week but we are so fortunate that my Mum and Dad travel 50 miles every Wednesday to come and help out with child care. They arrive first thing in the morning and look after Charlie all day, they collect Emily from school and usually have something ready for dinner for when I get home from work. They really are the best and I am so thankful that my kids have such loving, supportive, fun grandparents who adore them.
I do work incredibly hard but I try to leave my laptop at school a few nights a week so that I am not tempted to continue working when the kids are down. I have a rule (where possible) of not working beyond 9pm so that Jason and I can get time together to sit and watch our latest TV series! We are currently watching How to Get Away with Murder… OMG… so good! If you haven’t watched it, I recommend it! Having this time with Jason, snuggled up watching TV helps me switch off from the busy day job and it has kind of become our thing…. Especially during lockdown!
During the first lockdown I was on maternity leave so I didn’t have to worry about juggling work and family life during this worldwide pandemic but I went back to work last October so this lockdown has been very different. I am not on hand all day to assist Emily with her home learning (but I think she actually prefers that as she doesn’t have her Headteacher Mum expecting her to complete every task to perfection!) Instead I am doing a mixture of being in school and also working from home. Leading a school community virtually is a challenge but I am proud of what my school has achieved. Saying that, I can’t wait for the children to all return so we can begin to get back to some sort of normality.
While writing this I have been thinking about any top tips I have for juggling work life and home life but I suppose it is nothing new… unless you consider trying to find a partner who works from home a top tip!
Here are my three top tips:
Say yes to less!
Over time I have realised that I don’t have to say yes to absolutely every party invitation, playdate or extra-curricular activity. Sometimes saying yes to everything sometimes causes more anxiety than enjoyment. I try determine how much our schedule can handle and agree to the things that the kids will enjoy the most, saying no to the rest! Having time at home to just play with toys is enough. We do plan some fun family activities but I feel that doing this every weekend is just too much.
Make time for yourself
Mums often have a bad habit of putting their own needs last in order to take care of everyone else first. But if you are not taking care of yourself, how can you do a good job of looking after your family? You can’t pour from an empty cup and all that!
Finding time for yourself if so important whether that be a walk, a bath or simply locking yourself in the loo for a 5 minute pee in peace! (Face it… we have all been there!!!)
Lower your expectations!
Mum guilt is a real thing! There is so much pressure these days to plan healthy meals, plan fun sensory play activities, have a clean and tidy house, to be a perfect parent…. The list goes on! I have found that when you stop comparing yourself to other Mum’s on Instagram and realise that you are doing a damn good job you will feel much happier! I have been guilty of feeling bad after seeing other people’s home school schedules and constant healthy meals but I soon realised that most people only post the highs and portray a perfect lifestyle that can often make other Mums feel inadequate.
I do keep a clean house but I don’t freak out over everything being spotless – I am definitely one of those Mums that gets more cleaning done the 15 minutes before someone is due to visit than I do the rest of the week!
Sometimes, lowering your expectations and not striving to live that perfect Insta life can help reduce Mum guilt immensely and do wonders for your self-esteem! Stop and look at what you achieved… your kids love you just the way you are!
Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post…. Check out @life_at_number_38 for more ramblings from me and send me a wee message to let me know if anything I have said resonated with you!