It’s been a funny old week for me. A weird one. But one that I have really enjoyed.
Just before the Easter holidays, I gave up the full-time teaching job that I have loved for 12 years. I won’t bore you with the details; just a few words will suffice – stress, exhaustion, Ofsted, paperwork and lack of family time. Having thought of nothing else for many agonising weeks, the final straw was when my 5 year old son, just a week after the Christmas holidays, said “I can’t wait until the summer holidays Mummy, because then you will have time to play with me again”. Ouch! My life had become a refrain of “Not now, sweetheart, I have work to do”, and putting my job before my family. Because that’s what teachers do.
People that know me will know what a hard decision it was. Yes, I am giving up a regular salary. Yes, I will miss the children. Yes, I feel that I am abandoning the job that I love. But really, something had to give. Either the job, or my mental well-being, family life and relationships. In the end, it was a no-brainer. My little boy’s comments really hit home.
So, at the end of the Spring term, I said goodbye to the lovely school I had been teaching at for 12 years. Twelve years! Where did that time go? I had a fabulous last day full of lovely comments, presents and a super assembly from all my friends and the children. I have refrained from writing about it until now because I wasn’t really sure how I felt about everything.
But now I can tell you. The Easter holidays were the best two weeks I have had for many years. No planning, marking, assessment or preparation for the new term. Just winding down, enjoying time with my family, taking my little boy on outings, actually cooking proper meals and of course doing some sewing. Yay! Time for sewing! Much excitement!
But that was the holidays. The first day back at school was weird. Being a parent first and foremost, and not a teacher (my little boy goes to my old school). I met a couple of other teacher-parents on the way in, one of whom said “I’m really jealous of you”, the other who said “You lucky thing – enjoy it”. Once I got home I thought “Now what?! Jeremy Kyle and Homes Under the Hammer?!” I don’t know how to be unemployed – I haven’t done it since I was about 19.
But I have filled my 5 precious days with sewing (I have my things in this shop in Norwich and online in my Etsy shop, both of which really need restocking); organising things that I haven’t had time to do for ages (filing, decluttering, etc.) and generally just regrouping and thinking about the future. I also did a day’s supply at a local school, which was great because I went in at 8:15, taught the lovely kids, then left at 3:30. No, people, this is not what teachers normally do!!! But it was good. The best thing was that one day this week, I picked up my little lad after school and then we went to the park! Yes – the park, after school! No getting home, throwing some food together and having just half an hour with my child before bath and bed. It was just lovely.
I have had so many positive comments from colleagues, friends, other parents in my son’s class, and relations. One lovely ex-parent (of a child I taught a few years ago) bumped into me at the castle and gave me a huge hug and said “Well done for getting out!” (her husband is a teacher too, so she knows what it’s like). That really made me feel good. I feel like I am finding myself again. And I hope my family thinks I am a bit more chilled out and less shouty! The house is marginally tidier (miracles don’t happen in a week!) and the home cooking has improved.
Not quite certain yet what the future holds. I am not sure if I can leave completely – I am a teacher and I love to teach. I just don’t like what the teaching profession is at the moment. So I am looking around for what I might do come September. Maybe a short-term teaching contract, maybe part-time, maybe something totally different? In the meantime, I am looking forward to doing some supply days here and there, but I am also busy making bags and bits and doing the family thing. I am really busy and enjoying every minute.
And daytime telly hasn’t even gone on once! Sorry, Jeremy, you’re just not even on my radar.