Any secondary teachers out there with 2 kids under 4 at home? Help!

(49 Posts)
Brookville Sun 26-Jan-14 20:20:51

I'm struggling to cope with my return to school after 3 years off. My subject requires a lot of bitty planning; data and marking have gone bonkers at the school and so that's added time pressure and I've got the full spread Y7-13 to contend with. I'm on 0.6 over 3 days with just 1 PPA a day when I photocopy/mark so I'm taking all my planning home and working 3 nights 9pm-midnight and up at 0600. As marking increases I'll have to do it on weekends.
My kids have just started with a CM and are anxious as are rarely left with anyone but DH and me (no family here) so that's adding stress too. And DS1 is very emotional and explosive so that causes huge tension at home.
I think I'm mad to have accepted the post - did I really think it through? I missed the intellectual challenge and was getting down being at home f/t but this is too much!
So if anyone else out there is in my boat I'd love to hear how you cope or if you quit...!

mrsnewfie Sun 26-Jan-14 21:30:08

I returned to teaching full time in a large chain academy last year. I have two children, a bit older than yours.
I have taken the decision to resign. The workload is unmanageable and I hardly see my children. I find myself getting home with them and shoving them off to bed so that I can get on with work. I miss out on Sundays when my husband takes them to my mother in law's house, again so that I can work.
I can't live like this any longer so something has to give. It sure as hell isn't going to be my children so I'm leaving at Easter.

Haggisfish Sun 26-Jan-14 21:41:46

Honestly? I don't manage either - my book marking is the thing that I really fall behind with. I fudge it and smudge it and get by with ok lessons and great relationships with kids and staff. It's crap - I work all the bloody time and it's never enough. I think I might be able to manage 0.6, but I'm planning my getout - I'm studying another degree and tutor for OU and do exam moderation. It's bloody awful.

Brookville Sun 26-Jan-14 21:48:41

Gosh, thanks for replying. That's really interesting. I feel exactly the same. Might have managed with one child but 2? My contract expires end of summer so I'll either stick at it and try and negotiate for a better deal in the autumn or walk away. And then what? The holidays are so good!
The mad thing is that on the continent part time is the norm and teachers are accommodated. I believe.

EvilTwins Sun 26-Jan-14 22:23:37

My twins are 7 now, but I went back to work full time when they were 4. It was fine. It's still fine. It helps that DH is really really supportive, and that their nursery was lovely, and that now, they have a fabulous breakfast club and after school club at their primary school.

I love my job. There is a lot of planning, and I am a dept of one (Performing Arts) so have to do all the exam classes and all the data and all the admin myself. However, I can use previous plans and tweak them for new groups, and have good systems in place to make my admin and data stuff manageable. My busiest time is now, as we do the school production in February. I've been in school all day today, but my kids came with me - they've done this for the last three year, and they really enjoy it. I give them little jobs to do, and they sit with me whilst I run the rehearsals. The older girls love looking after them and playing with them in breaks.

I see my kids every day - I take them to school and pick them up, then I focus on them until they are in bed. After that, I do work, except on Wednesdays when I have choir. I'm usually in bed at a reasonable hour (ie before 11) and make time for a bit of time with DH, even if we slob in front of the telly.

The key is to be really organised, and to realise that you can't do everything. Be efficient at school - I always leave meetings on time, and take my bags and coat with me so I can go straight from the meeting to the car.

If you want to make it work, then you can make it work. Good luck!

Haggisfish Sun 26-Jan-14 22:23:44

I can't walk away - too far up the scale and need my salary. I love being in the classroom with the kids. I don't love the data, marking and huge class sizes that make it so hard.

DrNick Sun 26-Jan-14 22:24:57

it gets better

have you a cleaner or any help at all?

DrNick Sun 26-Jan-14 22:25:35

mine are older, I went back when they were 4.6.8
coulnt have done toddlers and marking

Brookville Mon 27-Jan-14 14:13:01

Thanks all. I'm hoping that Jan is a bad month to start and if by end of May it's still not great I'll have a rethink. EvilTwins sounds like you're managing incredibly well. Did you find it slow to get back into after your 4 year break?

louloutheshamed Mon 27-Jan-14 14:20:38

I went back ft after ds1 and it was fine (English teacher).

I am going back later this year and I will have ds1 aged 3 and ds2 who will be 10 months.

I'm Prepared for it to be tough but I have a great dh and supportive colleagues. My school has just been given outstanding by Ofsted and although people grumble as they always do, it's a good place to work.

I have quite a few colleagues who work ft with 2 dcs and have been emailing them to ask for tips and they all tell me I'll be fine!

I'm just pleased I'll not be pg when I go back as that was the part I found so tiring. I was also mentoring a student and doing post grad study before i started mat leave, so I'm hoping without those responsibilities it will be a little easier.

Good luck, am sure it can be done if you are organised and have support. So much depends on the school.

EvilTwins Mon 27-Jan-14 17:32:54

Brookville - no! I hit the ground running - partly, I think, because I went back to the same job in the same school - by coincidence the person who had taken my job when I left wanted to leave, so I was straight back into it. Kids in KS4/5 still knew who I was, many of the staff were still the same, so it was weirdly like I'd never really been away! I was ready for it anyway - being at home with baby then toddler twins for 4 years had made me desperate for a bit of intellectual activity.

insomniarules Mon 27-Jan-14 17:48:31

I saw a job advertised today that I could have applied for but I realised , when I thought about it, that I couldn't do a good enough job as teacher and Mum. I found it hard enough but with 2 DCs and house etc and travelling I couldn't do it.
The planning and marking was bad enough but I got really hacked off with thd constant monitoring and pressure placed on us and students by a largely invisible and inactive management team.
You are not alone!

beatricequimby Mon 27-Jan-14 18:36:26

I went back 2 days a week with children aged 1,3 and 5. A lot had changed in the 3 years I had been off and I found it hard. I worked every evening between 7.30 and 9.30 (well 5 days a week) and I was exhausted.

As soon as my youngest qualified for a 2.5 hr nursery session every day it was fine, it gave my time in the day to get a bit done and it all became manageable.

I do sympathise but it will get better.

SweepTheHalls Mon 27-Jan-14 18:43:39

Dpes your dept have decent schemes of work? I plan in outlook using repeating appointments so I always know where I , copy and paste over the less from the SIW and then go through and personalise. I find routine is the only way with marking, which group, which night to meet the marking policy. You said you have a 4 year old? Do they go to pre school at all on your days off? If so nap time is your saviour to do marking. Highly recommend getting a cleaner, it takes 1 layer of guilt from the equation. Good luck and rememberwine is your saviour.

FieryChipotle Mon 27-Jan-14 18:53:01

I'm full time with two year old twins and a nine year old. It's killer. I'm always tired, always watching the clock during meetings.


For all the reasons you have listed I am glad to be back after a year off. I feel like I am a better mum when I get home because I WANT to play and be fun, not play along because I have to kill the time or wear them out. Plus I feel like I'm setting them a good example by working hard at my career. (That might be slightly clutching at straws though!)

I have to be very strict with my time management. Kids in bed by 7.30, quick dinner and work until 9.30 - no later. I get into work at 7.45 so I can get an hour in before form. It's survival really but it is possible!

Orangeanddemons Mon 27-Jan-14 18:58:23

Sweep thermals. Not sure nap time is meant to be for marking....

I get the kids to mainly mark their work. One levelling lesson per 1/2 term and then I give the final mark at the end of the project.

I work 0.6 and only get 2 free hours

Nojustalurker Mon 27-Jan-14 18:59:50

I have no kids but I am secondary school teacher and I can't imagine how you would cope. Get as much support at home and school as you can.

At school make sure you use all your time wisely, if this means occasionally the younger students do a poster while you mark so be it ( I might be flamed here). Are you sharing resources across department, using old resources and stuff from tes? If you can try nominated one night a week where you look at one year group on a rotation and try to outline plan your lessons for the next few weeks. Collect together resources and if possible put them into the office to be photocopied.

Make sure you are über organised. At the start of term make sure you check the school calander for events, eg parents evening, mock exams and report writing. Make sure everything is recorded in your planner. At the start of the week write out your weekly to do list, I do this in my diary so I know which day to do it on. After each activity in your to do list write the maxium time you will spend on this activity and stick to it.

At home get all the help you can. Can the kids go to the cm one extra morning. Get a cleaner if possible. Use the half term to batch cook and freeze. Make sure your partner is pulling their weight. Shop on line or use click and collect. Keep a list of meal suggestions some where to help you shop. On a Sunday night sort out the clothes you will wear for the week and put them to one side in your wardrobe, do the same for the kids.

You can't be perfect at everything.

BranchingOut Mon 27-Jan-14 19:07:10

can you request to drop a class?

Even 0.05 might make a difference? There might be another pt who wants to take some more hours on.

Brookville Mon 27-Jan-14 19:42:17

Thanks for the great tips and support. I appreciate everyone taking time out of their crazy schedules to write on MN. It's a difficult balance -teaching- even before kids I felt stretched beyond capacity and as HoD absolutely never felt on top of things. Lesson obs, and constant department and school inspections/reviews, curric. changes & monitoring always made me feel inadequate.
Maybe some of you out there are just better at it and can better handle the pressures.
Branching I'd be well up for dropping a class. But I think right now the Dept are all over on their timetables. Maybe I'll ask again in May. I only wanted 0.4 to begin with.
Nojust your idea of taking a class a week is good. I just need to find time.

Btw are your DHs in demanding jobs? I feel I can't ask him to do loads of childcare at weekends (for me to work) as he needs respite too. Our kids are hard work and don't get on peacefully very often.

BranchingOut Mon 27-Jan-14 20:09:11

I am an ex-teacher (primary SLT) and what I have gathered over the years is that secondary is such a varied ball game depending on the subject you are teaching.

Hours, mark-load, preparation time, pressure from SLT - appears to be hugely different depending on what you teach. So someone who appears to be coping much better is probably doing, what is in effect, a very different job.

The fact that my DH was in a hugely demanding job was one of the factors in favour of leaving - something had to give somewhere.

louloutheshamed Mon 27-Jan-14 20:15:20

No to be fair, that's probably why I manage. My dh is self employed and so much mOre flexible than me. he does nursery drop offs and also only works 4 days a week so there is some slack for routine appts and general life admin.

At weekends if I had loads of marking or a uni assignment he would take ds swimming on a sat am. Not sure he'll be able to do that with 2 - might have to rope a grandad/ uncle in too grin!

I have friends where both ate teachers and I think it is really really hard, but offset by the HUGE advantage of both having the holidays.

Nojustalurker Mon 27-Jan-14 20:54:52

Your welcome. Am not great at the balancing bit. In fact thinking of quitting but as I have worked to try and get more organised I thought I would share what I have learnt.

SweepTheHalls Mon 27-Jan-14 21:22:20

OH is also a teacher, pros and cons, he understands, but has the same workload. In my house nap time is always for marking!

Brookville Mon 27-Jan-14 21:53:47

How old are your kids Sweep? My DS1 dropped his nap 3 months ago aged 3 and struggles to sit still now even when he's knackered so I can't concentrate when he's up!

petalpower Mon 27-Jan-14 21:55:14

Glad you've come over to the staffroom Brookeville. I thought you'd get better advice over here!

SweepTheHalls Mon 27-Jan-14 22:05:58

3 and 5. No naps round here any more, but the 3 year old now does 1 2.5 hour playschool session a week now! Oh the plans I had for that time, and then the ckeaner quit!

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 22:06:06

I'm 0.6 over 5 days. I guess I cope by mentally thinking that I work full time (and as I put in 40+ hours a week, I suppose I do). So any time I get in the week with the kids is a bonus, working every evening and Sunday evening is just expected.

It's a bit shit, but the holidays make up for it, then I do next to no work.

LizzieVereker Mon 27-Jan-14 22:10:41

I did this, but my children are a bit older now. I have always been FT even when DCs were tiny. I think I would have found PT harder, personally, as your focus is more split. Sorry, I'm not sure that's helpful?

I am high up the pay scale/ responsibility in a very demanding school, and am by far our family's main earner, so again I've found the element of "no choice" helpful, no agonising.

The things that work for me are doing as much at school as possible, rigid activity timetable when I'm there ( set time for planning, checking e-mails or I faff). Sticking to a daily book marking timetable so that I don't drown in it every couple of weeks, as mine is a very marking heavy subject. All this ensures that I do get time with DCs. It gets easier once they sleep!

It only works because DP's work is arranged so that he can do school runs, and he does all housework apart from cooking. He is fab, it just works this way for us.

If you teach English I'm happy to share my millions of Powerpoints, resources etc if that will help you a little bit?

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 22:10:52

I'm 0.6 over 5 days. I guess I cope by mentally thinking that I work full time (and as I put in 40+ hours a week, I suppose I do). So any time I get in the week with the kids is a bonus, working every evening and Sunday evening is just expected.

It's a bit shit, but the holidays make up for it, then I do next to no work.

noblegiraffe Mon 27-Jan-14 22:14:28

Sorry for double post!

I have also set up a marking timetable: Y8 Monday, Y9 Tuesday etc. Mon- Thurs and one lot at the weekend (I have 5 classes.) I am ruthless about getting homework in on time, if they 'forgot their book' they are in at lunchtime, no messing up my schedule with dribs and drabs!

SweepTheHalls Mon 27-Jan-14 22:14:44

.6 here too, mon, wed, fri. Great for the boys as they never have 2 days of childcare together, but I feel like I never switch off.angry

Noggie Mon 27-Jan-14 22:16:25

I teach secondary with young children- it's hard! I've gone down to 3 days as found more just too relentless. My dp works 6 days a week so no breathing space if I work full time- no family around etc survival definitely reliant on accepting less than perfection in all areas and lots of organising! I do feel pulled in all directions at times and sometimes feel I don't do anything particularly brilliantly but most of the time , now that I have 0.6 timetable over 3 days it feels manageable grin

Philoslothy Mon 27-Jan-14 22:20:37

I don't have two under 4 but do have four children, plus a stepson and am expecting baby number five - hopefully with number six soon afterwards.

I am very strict with my time at school , every minute is accounted for from 7am until 6pm. I have a marking timetable and will mark a set of books or batch of essays/exams a day to keep on tip of things.

One evening a week I leave at 4pm. That is written in stone and happens regardless. That evening I will not work between 4and 9pm.

Friday evening I finish at 6pm and then we go out as a family . That happens every week and is a highlight of the week .

Between getting home and 9 pm is family time, also set on stone.

I work from 9pm until about midnight most evenings. I work in my study where I can't be disturbed.

My weeks are full on but that means I mostly have weekends and holidays free. Again that is set in stone. If I can 't do my job in that time it is an unreasonable request. I became a teacher to have time with my family that is always more important than my job .

I do my housework in the morning before going to work . I then do housework as I do other things. For example cleaning kitchen while supervising homework . Cleaning bathrooms while supervising bathtime.

The children have chores every day .

My husband pulls his weight.

We shop online .

We have detailed schemes of work as a department, that means I am only ever tweaking lessons.

I do a lot of peer and self assessment .

Philoslothy Mon 27-Jan-14 22:21:32

I am SLT. As with lots of jobs the further up you move the more flexibility you have with your time - which helps.

jellyandcake Mon 27-Jan-14 22:36:10

I am .6 (3 days), have a 3yo and am nearly 28wks pregnant. I had a full teaching day today and no time for a lunch break, I was so busy. Got home, couldn't get up off the floor, had to lie flat so as not to vomit and had a 2 hour nap. Back in bed now. It's too stressful and too hard and I am so busy that all I can think is how crappy a job I am doing of everything. All my lessons today were rubbish! Expectations just get higher and higher all the time. I am desperate to find a new career after maternity leave - I honestly don't know how I will get through the remaining 8 weeks before I go.

Philoslothy Mon 27-Jan-14 22:40:37

I think it is impossible to plan good lessons as you go along. That would make me ill. I do think that unless you are superhuman you are doomed to failure if you don't have detailed schemes of work.

jellyandcake Mon 27-Jan-14 22:41:09

Sorry, and with regard to your kids' anxiety, OP, my 3yo has had a hard time settling into pre-school so the guilt and stress over that has exacerbated how hard everything is. The problem is that with young children, when anything goes wrong with them it tips an already fragile balance over the edge and the pressure if coping with that and the workload becomes unbearable.At times I feel I am managing ok but days like today remind me just how precarious it is.

jellyandcake Mon 27-Jan-14 22:44:34

And agree, Philoslothy, there is no way I could be planning from scratch all the time - having SOW in place and sharing resources as a dept is vital.

BlanketSky Mon 27-Jan-14 22:52:14

jelly, are you me- 0.6, 3 days, 3yo and 26 weeks here! I have PGP and am finding this pregnancy so tiring. I have so much marking to do and never the energy to do it... Have decided I am going on ML at 32 weeks or I'll be a wreck by the time baby arrives. Though if my PGP gets any worse I will just ask to be signed off I think. Just not coping really. Complete lack of motivation doesn't help!

No idea how I will cope when I go back afterwards, but will have to as I don't think I can earn anywhere near this salary on a pt contract (on UPS) sad

BlanketSky Mon 27-Jan-14 22:53:55

precarious is the right word for the balance definitely

mumnosbest Thu 30-Jan-14 16:03:59

Another struggling mum/teacher here. I teach primary, have 3 DCs and am constantly scouring the vacancy boards for an alternative to teaching.

ladylord Thu 30-Jan-14 16:16:07

This is a strangely comforting thread...I have a 2yo and am 25wks pregnant. I am .6 and everyday I work is a total struggle. I feel like the only option is to leave teaching, which breaks my heart a little. But the pressures; poor behaviour, lack of support for pt workers and general heavy workload just aren't manageable any more and certainly won't be when I have 2 children.

Brookville Thu 30-Jan-14 19:58:44

Ladylord maybe there is the option for you to drop some classes. If they want to keep you on-easier than recruiting a newbie- then they might negotiate. Why do you say no rights for pt workers/support? Have you asked SLT? It must be hard being pg too. The tiredness will lift and then you'll have nice mat leave ahead...

purplebaubles Thu 30-Jan-14 20:09:51

Struggling to see how I can afford to go back to work with 2 under 2..Don't earn enough to cover the childcare! (lowly paid M2 here!)

SweepTheHalls Thu 30-Jan-14 21:09:49

The salary sacrifice Childcare vouchers is the only way I can afford to work.

ravenAK Thu 30-Jan-14 23:04:17

I've always gone back f/t after each ML. 3dc aged 5-9 & I'm a secondary English teacher. It was fine till dh started working away most weeks...then it got a bit painful!

I think FT is definitely easier than PT. From what I see of my PT colleagues, it's 60% of the £££s for 80% of the work, & taking up much more of the domestic slack because they're the partner who supposedly 'only works PT'.

My advice is - get a nanny (PT or shared) who'll work from your home. Mine has more than adequately replaced my dh's contribution now he's away several days every week, & I no longer have to race out of meetings to collect from CM then drag tired, grouchy kids home. They're already in when I get home, changed out of uniforms, doing homework. It's the best thing we ever did...

louloutheshamed Fri 31-Jan-14 07:46:56

I agree raven a lot of my colleagues have gone back up to ft after pt for the reasons you describe. I'm back ft in the summer. I've done it before with 1 dc so I'm really determined to make it work with 2!!

EvilTwins Fri 31-Jan-14 16:02:59

Just to add, my two closest friends at work and I all started there 10 years ago, and at that point, had one child between us. Now we have 6. All of us are full time, all of us have positions of responsibility, and all of us manage just fine. None of us have nannies, though we do all have supportive other halves.

Having said that, another colleague, who has two children of a similar age to ours, is finding it very difficult to cope at the moment. I think it comes down to individuals - there is no secret formula!

Brookville Fri 31-Jan-14 22:08:23

And if anyone out there is reading and wondering what to do, I' m 0.6, got paid first cheque this week and childcare is 80% of my salary so maybe as some posters say ft is the answer... But on a positive note, it's good to be back and I still get 2 full days with my pre-school kids. So I think that's taken care of the financial / moral dilemma for me.

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