Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Growing up - and moving on...

Missy Woo starts school in September. She keeps thinking she's starting any minute now she's 4. She thought after her birthday, and now because she has her last music group session on Friday and we're potentially going to sports day at school after that, she thinks she's starting school then. I have no doubt that, despite the fact that she'll be one of the youngest in her year group, she's ready for it and will transition fine; which is good because she'll be full time before September is out. My little girl is growing up and moving on. I don't feel sad about that; more pleased for her as she's so excited about it all. When the time comes, I may be a touch emotional about it but I am not anticipating many tears. She virtually kicked me out of the classroom when she went for her settling in session.

Monkey has spent four afternoons in his new class with his new teacher too. I've watched him grow so much this year and I can't believe the progress he's made. His reading is amazingly fluent and he's apparently a "budding mathematician" according to his school report, which was excellent. He's growing up and moving on too.

So where does it leave me? To be honest with you, I don't know. I feel like it is time for me to grow up and move on too, but there is no clear path for me. I don't have my life mapped out for me like a school child. It is what I make of it.

This time of year is no doubt a time when lots of people reflect on this. My life is beginning to feel like I'm growing out of it. I've had a lifestyle based around having babies and pre-school children for the last 5 years and come September, that will be gone. I've had a ball and made lots of new friends, but parts of it are beginning to feel not fit for purpose, as they are part of the life I'm about to leave behind, like I'm shedding a skin or something.

The trouble is, some parts of that skin are shed easily and left behind. Other parts are more difficult to shed. Some of them are and have been major commitments of time and effort. I've given a lot, but got a lot back too as they have been incredibly rewarding and I've been proud of my achievements. However, recently, I've been wondering if it's still for me. The commitments centre around early parenthood and I'm not in that place any more, plus things are going on that have dented my enthusiasm. My annual pep-talk normally buoys my enthusiasm for a good few months; this time, it's all but gone in a few weeks. Others carry on giving their all for years but I am not sure I want to give as much. The problem I have is I know that doing it half-heartedly is a recipe for disaster and anyway, I don't DO that. Unless there is someone for me to give it all to and I walk away fully, I know eventually I'll just do it myself, and that helps no-one. There was no-one before me for a good while and things suffered. I've put a lot of effort into turning that around and got somewhere but I don't feel as enthusiastic about it any more. And there are lots of (more social) aspects that I'd miss - but that's not a reason to stay on, is it?

What I'd like to do is take a step back, and reduce that commitment right down, restricting it to the stuff I know I am best at and therefore I enjoy the most. However, as much as I can set those boundaries, will others respect them - or will I be put in a position where gradually, I end up doing as much as before? Or will it be easier just to walk away totally? And in either case, what else can I do? I would be really interested in your thoughts on this matter. I'm being deliberately obtuse about this because this is me thinking aloud about my future with no hard and fast decisions. I don't want people from those circles to read this blog and get wind of my thinking, though anyone reading this that is really close to me is likely to know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm playing this down in terms of what it is so their interest is not piqued.

As I said above, I'd love your input on my dilemma but also, I'd love you to share any experiences you might have of your moving on stage when your kids were all finally in school. Judging by the fertility rate of the mums in Monkey's class (current tally 1 baby, 2 due in July, 1 due November and twins due Christmas Day), I know that having another baby is one way of approaching it but that's not going to happen to me. 45 really is too late to be starting again. Work is a dilemma too - I need to start earning proper money again soon but at the same time, I don't want to have to use excessive amounts of wrap around care as I'd like to be able to catch up with them at the end of a school day, and the only credible option appears to be to find work in another school. I worked in IT for 22 years until April 2009 but it seems that truly flexible family-friendly options in that line of work are like hens' teeth.

All thoughts will be gratefully received. I have a lot of thinking, soul searching and researching to do over the summer so that come September, I too am ready to start growing up - and moving on.

Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz /


  1. Yes, change happens. For me the recent changes were the move to high school (for son) & Voluntary Redundancy (for me). My thoughts are 1 - children still very much need you, but in a different way. Dont feel guilty about having time for you and using it how you want. Providing all the houeshold duties are done what is wrong with going swimming? 2 - Well paid part-time work is incredibly scarse, but if you need to use some childcare, eg after school clubs, then use it. Childcare at this age is still relatively easy! 3 - There must be other mums in the same situation, probably fewer are returning to work. Has anyone set up an organisation for mums to meet up while their children are at school, like a Young WI? There is a swimming club 9.30 to 10.30am in my area which is popular.

  2. i wish i had some advice to give you, but i've been stuck in the same kind of limbo for a few years now. it's a bad time to be looking for that perfect job. and i do think that a job is the only thing that will fill that hole. but wait for the right one, wait for one that fits your life. it's such a luxury to be able to be there when the kids get home from school and you will all benefit from it. so, while you can, take a break, take time. adjust to the changes and soon everything will fall into place.
    oh, and hug those kids more! coz when they are big, hairy teenagers (these are mine i speak of..) you'll look back on those photos of their early years in school and you'd give your eye-teeth to just have five more minutes with them when they were that age.... *sigh
    nice post. x

  3. I don't work either and I ended up going to school with my kids, by volunteering to be on the PTA - no it doesn't pay, but it fills my time with a real goal of enriching childrens lives and experiences at school. I know that a lot of mom's in the UK think the PTA is all about getting the reluctant to volunteer, but really it should be all about the children. I have also met more people through PTA activities with (obviously) similar aged children than I thought possible.

  4. I remember when I brought my eldest to see his classroom (he too thought he would start school the day he turned four) he wouldn't talk to me on the way home because I didn't let him stay there!!

    Would you consider studying again? You could do an OU course/degree, upskill and maybe then work from home making your own hours. It does sound nearly too perfect, but it is achievable. I am doing this come September, starting the studying bit, the rest will follow (I hope). Jen.

  5. We're in the same situation. My no4 goes to school in September. My husband works long hours and travels, so working would mean paying huge amounts for chilldcare in the holidays. So my plan is to sort the house out and see what happens. I can't wait! v

  6. Hmm, yes. OH does work longish hours - shifts actually - but doesn't earn a great deal, meaning I do really need to find some work which earns me more than my current dabblings. I don't really want to put them in childcare every day either so I need a flexible option. Also, the school doesn't have the facilities to run an after school or breakfast club and I'm not overly impressed with the one they use which is at the school opposite. There are loads of childminders that pick up but of course, the best ones are the ones that are full.

  7. Hi Jen, thanks for your comment. Re the study, I did a PTLLS course last year that qualifies me to teach to adults at an entry level. However, I can't get teaching hours anywhere in order to allow me to continue finishing the PGCE to make me a fully qualifies me to teach. I do have a degree and I have done lots of studying and really, I do need to be earning some money.

  8. Hi, and thanks for your comment. As I have said before, I do need to do some paid work as OH's salary doesn't cover our outgoings. I have been whittling away at my redundancy pay over the last year and I'm just beginning to eat into my savings. I'm sort of involved in the PTFA at school anyway and I just know that I will end up being asked to do something as the major postholders are all stepping down in September.

  9. Hi Jane, how are you?! I will find things to do but I also feel that I need to be leaving some things behind me. And work is tough, as you and I both know.

    If only Myerscough could give teaching hours to anyone that completes a PTLLS course with them, eh?

  10. Hi Paula, it's funny - they were saying on the radio yesterday that there were more part time workers than ever before! I am wondering if this is a sign that employers are currently prepared to allow it because it allows them to increase capacity when they get busy again without having to recruit and train as many new staff.

    I really want to be able to spend some time with them. I think my son in particular appreciates the time after school with us. I also hate dashing to and from things so we are certainly not going to do more than swimming lessons and perhaps a trip to a playcentre after school next year. They seem to need some down time, esp when they are little.

    thanks for your comment.

  11. I'd love to find something which would allow me to work (things are always tight with 4 children) but there's nothing that is flexible enough. Unless I go back to teaching (I trained as an EFL teacher) and do my PGCE. And as I've just spent 10 years with my own children, I can't think of anything worse! So I'm hoping I can work from home. Oh, and finally finish that book and get a JK Rowling style book deal!

  12. PTLLS/Cert Ed is a strange beast, there is of course teacher training (or TA) where you dont get the job first! Good luck, life is full of step changes.


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