Juggling school leadership whilst being a mum – 20 realistic tips 

My mum has a unique love of learning, she worked as a lecturer in mental health nursing. She loved her job, her students and most of all her subject. 

She taught a lot about the importance of communication and thus it was no surprise that every school report said that I was a chatterbox.

Her love of learning resulted in her gaining many qualifications – 26 letters isn’t bad. At one point, she worked full time and studied for a degree from 2 am – 4 am for a few years. She worked extremely hard and was a true academic. 

Without realising it, she socialised me in learning, immersed me in a love of books and perhaps more than she realised influenced me in progressing to heights of leadership.

Every girl needs a role model, I was lucky to have one living in my house. 

I have been blessed too as a mum, with a daughter and two sons. With the pressures of my job I am extremely challenged with how my job influences me as a role model at home. 

I find it really tough managing three children and not bringing my work home with me. I try to switch off at home times but it is hard when school life can creeps into family time. School functions and meetings can all take the focus away from your family. 

I definitely don’t have all the answers and to a large extent I’m still figuring parenting out. At each stage of my own children’s development, I’m learning about them and most of all myself.

So to date…

My top tips to survive leadership and be a good mum;

  1. Eat breakfast and dinner together every night. Ask lots of questions about your child’s day.
  2. Talk about your day – to anyone who will listen for ten minutes. I normally phone my mum or partner before I get home. Hands free is a blessing.
  3. Get a cleaner – unless you really love cleaning and it clears your mind it may be the best money you spend.  
  4. Go outside the house and garden, walk, play with the kids or exercise… Clear your head!
  5. Get your hair blow dried or visit the beauticians – me time is allowed!!
  6. Shop online – save your grocery shop in your favourites – I buy most clothes I wear online too but I do occasionally go to a personal shopper in large department store who has bags of energy.
  7. Read a magazine of newspaper – it makes you feel more human and gives you something else to talk about in school – other than school! It also models the value you place on reading.
  8. Get a hobby – mine is sewing and I dabble in painting when I can – crafts in general are always a hit with the kids, they like being involved.
  9. Plan holidays – always have something to look forward to with your family – and turn the emails off when you go. 
  10. Chores – you are part of a family that should function like a team teach your kids (and partner) to help. This is a huge life lesson! 
  11. Bake – nothing destresses me more than baking and the kids love helping not to mention eating what you have made.
  12. Have a cinema night in or out with your kids – it’s time out for you and time for them to hang out with a relaxed you. Occasionally eating sweets and chocolate with them is also very satisfying for all parties concerned.
  13. Try to make every hour of your weekend count. Go out and do things together, get into good habits that encourage family time. 
  14. Homework time – now this can be an issue. Late getting home with tired children is not a good start. It just has to be done. Accept it.
  15. Practice mindfulness, teach your children what to do if they feel stressed and use it yourself to refocus.
  16. The 7 minute workout app is a bit of a hit – kids laugh at me doing it but I feel better for it.
  17. Make time for your partner – go out for the ocassional date – they are your rock and deserve your a slice of your time. 
  18. Washing, ironing and putting away clothes – have a regular routine and get the kids to help. 
  19. Guilty mother syndrome is out there… We all get it as working parents. Try not to let it control you. 
  20. Laugh.. Cry .. Talk …never feel you can’t share tough times. The occasional coffee or drink with friends can give much needed perspective. 

If you can think of more please comment below… 

Winding down yet? 

Winding down yet? 

We all love the mad rush of the end of the school year. Not!!

I hate people (mainly non school staff) who ask this question as if all we do is sit with our feet up in school from mid May and go home each night writing endless lists of what we will pack for our holidays.

This year, the end of term was extremely busy. For me it was one of hastily writing school development plans and analysing data in preparation of the next school year. 

I sat down and planned my school development days and cried several times at my school budget that appears to deplete on the whimsical decision of the higher educational powers. It isn’t a winding down time of year, if anything thing it’s time for educationalists to get wound up!

The annual clear out of schoolwork begins, the annual pupil report goes out to parents and then there is the summer maintenance plan that needs to be drawn up (this was pretty easy this year as no one had any money to do any school enhancement!)

Then my particular passion – self evaluation – what new school development plan or action plan can be without self evaluation – qualititative and quantitive data. (Wholeschool.ie did help me out with my questionnaires this year, which did save quite a bit of my time)

At the end of the summer term, I probably have generated more paper than most schools use in a year. As I am ultimately accountable for the day to day running of the school and the budget – my desk by the end of term resembled a swamp of paper which no one dared to touch for fear they too would get lost in it.

They say busy people get things done -busy teachers and school leaders always have much to do. The list seems endless.

The promise of a few weeks off, may well be the carrot for some of us but it’s very difficult to have a tidy desk at the end of term. My biggest issue is I’m never fully content. I always want to strive for more. 

Prompted by @urban_teacher there are a few rules we should all apply to this hectic time of year: 

I think I may have to print this out for my office… and enlarge!! 
It is a real challenge to switch off and balance all that life throws at you

This is why I feel teaching is a vocation unlike any other. We never really fully unwind…but I am trying to… I promise.