Thursday, 26 November 2020 04:06

Returning To Work: A Personal Insight

When returning to work full time in 2016 after my maternity leave, the struggle was real. I was learning to balance life in a whole new way. I was full of emotions, a full time single mum, a full time educator and a full time student balancing teaching placements with work commitments and motherhood. Life was hard! However, over the last few weeks I have begun to realise just how much I took for granted back then. 

All those years ago I thought I was experiencing what it is like for all parents to return to work after having a baby. It has just dawned on me how lucky I was to have my child at my work place and to be surrounded by staff and families that connected with what I was experiencing. The ease of bringing my child to work with me and taking my child home after each shift (no matter what start/finish time) meant I could always do drop off/ pick up and speak to her carers. If I wanted to know how she was going I could ask in the staff room or visit her on my breaks. I was building relationships with all of her friend’s families because I would see them everyday. Margaret Ives was so accommodating to all my needs during this time.

When returning to full time work last term after almost four months of long service leave, it was a whole different ball game. Sure I didn’t have a baby this time around, I had a five year old at school. During my long service leave, I was able to be a ‘school mum’ for a while. Walking my daughter to school, experiencing drop offs and pick ups, meeting class parents/families and getting to know her teacher. Life seemed to have a different purpose, it was about slowing down and engaging in more meaningful interactions. While my daughter was at school I was able to focus on myself, relaxing, exercising and engaging my brain in new and old activities. I listened to over 30 audiobooks, became a sourdough master, crocheted some rugs/scarves, welcomed a puppy into our family, caught up with friends and participated in regular aqua classes with super friendly elderly people. 

Returning to work this time around was so much harder, I because realised just how much I was missing. I no longer had my child at work with me and my teaching shifts make it impossible for school drop offs and pick ups. I have tried my hardest to continue the self care, audio books, aqua classes, sourdough baking and crocheting, but that too is becoming impossible. Last term I made the effort to bake bread to share at work on Monday’s and I replaced aqua classes with riding my bike to work. Work have enabled me to do a late shift each week so I can experience one school drop off a week and that has been awesome, a morning where I really slow down. However, my slow life has been replaced by the endless need to try and spend quality time with my child and dog, to not let it all just be about the homework, dinner, bath, bed routine.

I see families at Margaret Ives living all the different aspects of what I have experienced. We are all doing the best we can to meet the demands of our families and workplaces. As educators and teachers, we leave our issues at the door and care for your children as if they were our own.

I simply wanted to share my life perspective with you, so you remember:

If you’re waiting at the door at 7:30am for the centre to open, I understand.

If you can’t pick up until the centre closes, I understand.

If we see your child’s grand parents or nanny/babysitters more than you, I understand.

If you can’t commit to a parent/teacher interview, I understand.

If you can’t make a working bee, I understand.

 

If you can drop your child off and still get to work in time, I applaud you. 

If you can do drop offs and pickups without haste, I applaud you.

If you have time to engage in regular quick chats with educators, I applaud you.

If you can attend MICCC meetings or working bees, I applaud you. 

We are all doing the best we can to raise these tiny humans, with partners, on our own or with support networks. Children grow and change so quickly. I blinked and now my baby is six years old. Remember work to live, don’t live for work. The balance is different for everyone but making time for your family and keeping time for yourself are key. 

 

OLLIE LAUDER - MICCC EDUCATIONAL LEADER

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