As you may have read, I spent the final 3 months of the 2012-2013 school year in a teaching assistant role in my son’s elementary school. In my “Should I even be going “there”?” post (I fear posting this may have me tarred & feathered or at the very least have me NEVER hired by the District again!) I expressed my concern about both the state of school management itself but also where my perspective on that state comes from.
I began my writing with the intention of posting more about the power of leadership….but actually I think it was more about how I felt working there.
I did help me open up to some questions & self-reflection that are always useful though.
Now when I talk about “going back to work”, I have to be honest & admit, I was essentially “working” for possibly the shortest stint ever.
So why did it have such a significant impact?
I guess because until now, while I’ve done various projects, I’ve certainly not worked part-time or full-time, on someone else’s clock since the kids (& Ethan turns 7 in about 10 days so it’s frighteningly longer than it feels).
Thus for us, it was a major change in many ways:
For the first time, Kevin’s schedule wasn’t all about Kevin’s schedule. He actually had to be available for pick ups & drop offs, for the random sick days, for the odd kid appointment. He had to have Mylo sometimes whilst also trying to work from home & he had to do a little more around the place to keep things ticking over as I wasn’t as hands on as usual (and for the record, I have an amazing hubby who takes on a lot around the house in terms of chores – even when I’m not working, it’s often been 50/50).
The kids, had to put up with a more tired Mummy initially, who was also sometimes a bit over “kid stuff” after a long day with Kindergartners….or more often than not, was totally in love with her kids, appreciating them & their great behavior & loving ways after a long day.
I had to acknowledge a number of things: how much I treasure alone time as I no longer had any (!); how much I missed friends…while I consider myself more of an introvert & often quite a loner, I also realize I treasure some very special friendships, ones that feed my soul so to speak. Women that offer so much value to my life & not spending time with them on the odd hike or the odd coffee date really affected me.
We also felt the time pressure in the weekends which was unexpected – getting housework done, catching up on laundry, the gardening, getting groceries & meal ingredients prepared….
I realized that working part-time definitely has its bonuses – I got time with the kids in the afternoons & time to get some things done….
But working part-time as a TA has its disadvantages too – the pay does not justify a cleaner, after-school babysitter help, a gardener – any of the things that would help to ease the weekend load. So once I went back to work not only were the days full with work, homework, activities & daily chores, none of which I could complete in the hours without the kids (seeing as I non longer had any)…but the weekends became loaded with those particular chores.
All in all there was almost no balance & the pay barely covered childcare. On the days Mylo was not in preschool, a sunk cost, I only broke even for the child care we needed.
Didn’t really make it feel worthwhile given the experience I was having as detailed in my previous post.
It did open my eyes to all working parents – I feel like working parents do not at all get the empathy or support they so deserve. More often than not, they just get a lot of judgement. Their workload is not at all acknowledged in a realistic way… I barely touched on what many working friends do so I truly have no idea how they pull it off AND do so, so successfully!
Super women is one way I can put it. They really go that extra mile in all aspects of their lives & deserve not just respect but admiration.
And the Dads too… I don’t know many Dads these days that work 9-5, come home to a cooked meal, put their feet up with a beer (or perhaps as martini Don Draper would?) & read the paper… Dads are just as or almost as involved in chores, pick ups, drops offs, school activities & the daily kid-routines as Mums are.
Parents juggle a lot these days & I think are often our own harshest critics (or am I only speaking for myself?)…. I just want any working parent out there that may read this to know you are amazing. You are very likely pulling this whole kid/work gig off beautifully even though most days it doesn’t feel like it & I for one am giving you a huge pat on the back.
For now I’m no longer back “on the clock” so to speak… I’m on my own clock though as a friend & I work toward launching our online accessories/restored furniture store so right now that consumes me & I hope it continues to in the way outside work would…. here’s hoping or I might just be back to being on the clock & trying desperately to pat myself on the back for a job I believe being poorly done!