There are many great things about my job as a teacher. There are also many great things about being a parent – as you doubtless have read in my superb blog. However, there are also quite a few challenges of doing both at the same time.
Disclaimer: Even if you are not a teacher, I’m sure that other working parents can relate to many of these things. (Especially if your co-workers are not very mature.)
Here are 10 Realities of Being a Teacher and a Parent:
All your “kid-free” time at work is spent with other people’s kids
You know that time when you leave the chaos that is the morning routine with kids and you get to work to drink your coffee in peace? I don’t. Because when I leave my morning kid chaos, I get to a school and head straight into school chaos. Then after a short car ride, I end up at home, doing daycare pickups, dinner prep and a little play time before I finally get time to myself at around 8 pm.
You will never have enough time…ever
At work, I don’t have enough time to do all my prep, marking, extra-curriculars, because I am busy with the students. At home I don’t have enough time to do laundry, clean or read a book without pictures because I am doing all the marking and prep from work. It never ends.
You will never eat your full lunch – sadly this does not result in weight loss
At home a tiny toddler is constantly grabbing at my food. Mostly he eats it, but sometimes he just looks at me, shakes his head and throws my food to the dog. I think he has made it a mission to put me on a diet. At work, I mostly work through lunch, cramming it into my mouth in between runs to the photocopier or typing a handout. When I do sit down, I am constantly interrupted with student questions. So, I am always hungry, but never seem to lose any weight. What the hell?!
You will develop the patience of a saint (interspersed with angry rants)
You know how slowly your kids move when you have to leave the house on time? And how they seem to lose the ability to find anything or do anything for themselves? Now try accomplishing anything in a timely fashion with 25 teenagers. It takes like 5 minutes for everyone to find a pen, let alone do anything. Also, half of them don’t have any school supplies, and are unsure about how to solve this problem for themselves. Another quarter are on their phones and have not noticed that I exist. So, at a snail’s pace we move through our days tasks, while I gnash my teeth together to keep from throwing their phones out the window.Then I come home and deal with toddler tantrums. By the time he goes to bed, I am completely out of patience and completely innocent statements from my husband are met with snappy rants.
Hubby: Honey, are you finished with this glass?
Me: NO! I am not finished. Can anyone just leave my stuff where I put it? Honestly, I just want to drink a glass of juice in peace.
Hubby: Um, okay… [backs away slowly]
You spend all day saying ridiculous things with a straight face
At home I routinely have to say things like, “Don’t eat the dog kibble!” and “Stop wiggling. You have to wear pants.” At work I also say strange things like, “Stop throwing paper out the window” and “Can you stop taking selfies?”. The worst part is that I have to say all of these things with a straight face when all I want to do is laugh. I mean, these things are so ridiculous, but if I even crack a smile no one will take me seriously.
You are not sure which is more relaxing – work or home
I have heard others say that going to work is their break from being at home with kids. This sounds nice. I have no idea what it’s like, but it sounds pretty great. I envision sitting at your desk, doing work at your own pace while leisurely sipping on a coffee. (It is probably nothing like this IRL.) I can only imagine work as a haven, because my work is where all your kids go while you are at work.
Also, unlike many jobs, if I have a bad night, I don’t just get to phone it in. I can’t sit at my desk, avoid co-workers and just get through the day. I have to be on high alert, high energy mode to get teenagers to do anything besides text. If I am not “on”, then nothing gets done and chaos ensues. So, work is not relaxing, home is not relaxing and the commute home in Toronto traffic is certainly not relaxing.
The public will frequently forget that you sacrifice time with your own kids for their kids
Every time teachers have to renew their contracts the newspapers are full of stories about how teachers are lazy, and selfish to think of cutting back extra-curricular activities. What many people don’t know is that we do not get paid for any of those clubs, bands or teams we run. Not only that, but we also miss out on time with our own family because we are trying to provide a good experience for your children.
Every Thursday I pick up my son late from daycare because I am running a concert band rehearsal. On parent’s nights, Grade 8 night and during any performance night I don’t see my son at all. I lose that time with him because I really believe in the benefits of these activities for your kids. I have to make the decision between your kids and my kids every time. Sometimes I have to choose mine, but often I choose yours. Please remember this the next time you want to curse your child’s teacher for not running another club.
You are constantly sick – daycare germs + school germs = deadly plague waiting to happen
Between all the walking germ factories at work, touching all my stuff and the tiny germ factory at home (also touching all my stuff) I am almost never healthy. My immune system waved the white flag back in September and I have been sick ever since. Admittedly, this was a problem before my son was born. However, now there is no place to escape the germs and recover.
You will have about 26 seconds of silence every day
I teach music, so my day is loud. How loud? Well, you know how annoyed you are when your kid brings their trumpet home to practice? How it just sounds like some dying bird squawking? Now picture 20 more kids with various instruments…all day. Now add loud talking to that and you’ve got my whole day at work. While I love music, after a whole day, I am well and truly done with noise. I don’t even listen to music in the car, because I just need a break.
I always hear people talk about how loud their kids are at home, but for me even the loudest kids are still significantly quieter than my workplace. So, between work, home and interacting with my husband I have about 26 seconds of silence while I am awake.
Nothing (and I mean NOTHING) will phase you anymore
I have worked in a few rather rough schools, so there is nothing my son can say or do which I haven’t heard before. I have been sworn at, told I am boring, seen kids arrested in class, broken up fights and heard the absolute worst excuses you have ever heard. And, as mentioned before, you have to resist the urge to tell them they are full of crap. Instead, you have to turn it into a teachable moment. (This is the same in parenting.) Isn’t that irritating?
Not only am I not phased by anything, but I am now able to find the humour in most any situation. Let me tell you, I will need this. Because at some point I will have teenagers at work, and teenagers at home. At least I have 12 years to prepare.
Well, fellow teaching parents, have I missed anything? What are your realities of teaching while parenting?