Teaching: a ‘family unfriendly’ profession

A distressed teacher with a class. Teaching has become an unfriendly profession.

I recently returned to my profession of twelve years after my second period of maternity leave: English teaching. I am the mother of two tiny people, a girl, aged one and a boy, aged three.

Parenthood is a job that requires us to give up almost all of our time and energy for the well-being of another. Teachers too are, by nature, givers. The desire to help others, to give something of ourselves up for their inspiration, their betterment, is at the heart of belonging in the classroom. So we find ourselves giving. And giving. And giving.

When I was a young and idealistic teacher, the pressures of the job were a price I was willing to pay for the unrivalled satisfaction of knowing I was truly helping a young person. I would mark into the night, spend hours perfecting a lesson or making resources, run clubs and go on trips and… There was no line between my job and who I was. I was a teacher.

Now I am a mother. And I keep giving.

I have held my pale and whimpering baby as she struggles for breath in a stark hospital room, while emailing cover, one-handed from my phone. I have sent my wailing toddler to nursery with a fever of 40 because the anxiety and workload of having a day off is too much to bear, and there is nobody else to watch him. I have stayed late to finish some marking or talk to a student even though the hours until bedtime are ticking away, and those precious moments with my children are painfully fleeting. I have marked with my daughter crying at my feet because there are deadlines that have to be met. I have cried too, stroking her hair with my free hand, desperately seeking to comfort her distress.

I have felt the hot spike of shame and regret when my absence – my failing – pushes a stressed colleague closer to breaking point and I have despaired that there is nothing – nothing- I can do about it. I have taught a five period day followed by a parents’ evening on two hours sleep and felt sick with exhaustion and overwhelmed with heartache that I didn’t get to kiss my children goodnight.

I have felt like a bad mother. I have felt like a bad teacher. I have felt like there is no way to give enough time, enough effort, enough of me, to both. I feel like I am not enough. Because both roles are all-consuming. At times, it has nearly broken me.

In the short years since I started my family, not long after the coalition government came to power, I have seen the monitoring and paperwork that my colleagues and I have to endure increase in volume and perceived importance. I have seen us all struggle to keep up with three specification changes and an end to re-sits. I have seen the number of times I am observed increase from three times a year to nearer three times a term. I have seen testing increase and the content we are asked to teach become more prescriptive.

In the wake of all this extra pressure, I have seen my pay, which barely covers my childcare costs, become performance-based, meaning that prioritising my students over my own children becomes even more difficult to avoid, even when there is only so much I can do to ensure the exam success of my pupils.

I have seen my planning time taken away, my contact time increase, my pension reduced, and my school’s budget cut. But I keep giving. We all keep giving, in the face of our time, our resources, our rights, even our sanity being taken away. I have been treated for stress and anxiety and witnessed colleagues suffer similarly.

More than this, as a parent, my profession is taking something far, far more precious from me: the brief years when my children really need me.

A friend recently spoke to me about the possibly of changing careers, now that she is a mother. Teaching really appeals she says – because of the long holidays with the children and school hours. “Teaching is so family friendly.”

I stare at her, open-mouthed, for a moment or two.

Teaching is not family friendly at all, I say, sadly. Maybe it was, once. For me, teaching is constantly in conflict with my family life. There’s just no way to be a mother and a teacher and feel successful at both. Every single day, I feel like I am letting someone down. I am stretched thin, like butter scraped over too much bread. I honestly don’t know how long I can sustain it. I still love my subject, enjoy sharing that love with students and watching them grow and achieve – but ultimately I love my own children more and letting them down makes me hate myself.

So why am I still in the profession, I hear you ask? It’s simple; I am a teacher. I don’t know how to be anything else. I am also a mother and I can’t be anything else. Unless we can make teaching family friendly again, I am doomed to be in conflict with myself indefinitely, or leave the profession. Whether I can manage the huge weight of my conflicting responsibilities and pressures remains to be seen.

Today, I left my little girl wracked with coughs and sobs, tears streaming down her face, and I went to work – though every fibre of my being begged me to stay, to comfort, to be a mother.

Today, I hate myself.

Today, I feel like my teaching days are numbered.

Since writing this post, I have left teaching. To read about how I came to this decision, and the outcome, take a look at these posts:

‘Teaching: a break-up letter.’

‘I am not a teacher.’

I have also discovered that I am autistic, and was diagnosed in April 2019:

An Adult Autism Diagnosis at 37


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240 thoughts on “Teaching: a ‘family unfriendly’ profession

  1. Very interesting post & the paperwork teachers endure is ridiculous as is the yr1 phonics test but I think most jobs cause a struggle if you have children. I’m lucky my job is 20 hours a week & I don’t have to worry once home but you still have to juggle illness, homework, special days like sports day that you can’t attend. Working vs motherhood is a battle. I could never manage full time I feel you miss too much. Could you job share? Only work 2 or 3 days a week? Hope you can find a resolution & don’t beat yourself up we all just do our best.

    1. Teachers are amazing people! As a husband and son of a teacher it is frustrating that all teachers tend to talk about is school. Just so you guys know it is a pressure as a family member to hear nothing but school. I think my wife is probably one of the best teachers out there but it absolutely takes a toll on a family. I’m not going anywhere because as a father of three we need that passion but not all husbands would understand. Find your balance!!!

  2. I can empathise with this no end. Teaching in Scotland so slightly different changes to education but we’ve had a complete overhaul too with little to no extra planning etc. Marking at times is crippling. I don’t think the pressure to keep doing more and giving more ends. At no point ever have I seen someone say – wow ok we have to introduce a new exam system to three different levels so let’s cut something else for you to have time! Haha.

    And yes, horrible mum vs horrible teacher – I know the feeling. I have no answers only empathy!!

    1. Thank you. I wish I had solutions to offer instead of being so pessimistic but I was having such a bad few weeks when I wrote it! Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

  3. I am in awe of working mothers. I am in awe of teachers. It saddens me to see how teachers are treated in this country. I have friends here who have given up teaching precisely because of what you’ve just written in your post. And it’s really sad. One left the country and is now teaching in a private school in Mexico. To think that he actually gave up a high-paying job in London to become an IT teacher here. But the stress was too much for him. Now he is enjoying teaching again, because the stress-level isn’t as high as the ones he had here in the UK. I come from a family of teachers (my mum was a Physics Professor, aunts were Primary school teachers, my husband teaches history with the OU). My mum always said that teaching is a vocation not a career. Hats off to all teachers! Sorry for the long comment. x

    1. Not at all! It’s lovely to get long comments! Thanks for your kinds words. It’s the workload that’s ridiculous. It’s always been a lot but has got so much worse recently. We’d all be better teachers, and happier, if the powers that be would take us seriously about helping to reduce it! Thank you.

  4. Can completely empathise with your post.I am now a supply teacher and do not work full time.I have a girl of 17 and a boy of 13.I refused to let teaching define me but it’s been hard and we , as a family have had to make a lot of sacrifices. It got to a point when I was working full time (primary teacher), that something seriously had to give as I was becoming a terrible teacher and an even worse mum and I was giving both jobs my absolute all! You are so right when you say we are givers, as we are and the guilt we often feel is immense.
    I never felt like I was there for my children and I was missing so much.I love teaching but I hate being a teacher, some don’t understand that but a lot do.I was never ambitious, I just wanted to be a teacher.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I think it’s a real crisis for teachers – The workload is too great to bear for all of us.

  5. This resonates with me being an English teacher with tow young ones. I was on my way to the hospital miscarrying my first child and texting in cover work so my classes didn’t fall behind! Its madness!

    1. I have had a similar experience to that, too. So sorry that you have had to be concerned about work at such a time. It’s really hard to explain just how much pressure there is on everyone to anyone who doesn’t know first-hand. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Just read this over on Netmums. I don’t know how you do it lovely. I felt utterly helpless and heartbroken for you and then it made me stop and think of the teachers, many of whom are mums, at my children’s school.
    They’re probably all feeling the same struggle. We have parents evening tonight and the teachers will be there, until late, reassuring parents and helping them understand just some of the battles you face during the day in helping our children. You’re not paid enough, the performance pay is an utter joke and the government should be ashamed of themselves.
    I hope you come to a decision soon. Maybe a job share or a more teaching support type role. I don’t know. All I do know is I really appreciate all you and your fellow teachers do. Without you guys, there is no future generation.xx

    1. Thank you. What a lovely comment 😊Will be soldiering on till the end of this academic year at least! xx

      1. I am a Chemistry teacher and have two young children aged 5 and 3. I chose to go part time as soon as I had my first child, and I would never consider working full time as a teacher now because I know I would never be able to fulfill my role as teacher and a responsible parent at the same time.
        As much as I love teaching, my own children will always be my priority and because I have this at the forefront of my mind, the decision to put teaching 2nd was always easy. I can now juggle my workload relatively easily and get to spend the valuable time my children.
        If you are spending so much on childcare, why not consider taking a pay-cut and going part-time? That way, you save on childcare, you could actually manage your workload better and get to spend time with your children as well.
        With all respect, it just seems that so many people comment on how difficult it is to manage full time and still have time for children, when in reality they could consider part time positions, but simply don’t want to, because it means having to cope with a pay-cut – something that many people would rather not do. Even if it means they have more time to spend with their children.
        It’s about sacrificing something. For me, that was my full time teaching job. Not the time with my kids. And because of the decision I made, I can now be happy knowing I am giving the best to both my students and my children.
        You’re no good to anyone when stressed and anxious. Least of all your children.
        Ultimately it’s up to you to put something first, rather than try to juggle both jobs and then get anxious and stressed when you find you can’t do both.

        I hope this helps.

        1. I totally agree with you. I only worked part time while raising my three children. We did without during those years( rented an apartment, one car, no expensive vacations). I have no regrets. I was there for them, caring for them, playing with them, baking, sewing costumes, etc. . I now have wonderful memories of the happy years.

  7. Hi

    I am also an English teacher and mother but I have gone self employed as a tutor and editor because of all the reasons you state here.
    It makes my blood boil when people suggest teaching somehow fits in with family life ‘as you get all those holidays’ etc etc
    I have no regrets and have built up a nice business which I control. I earn more and dont have loads of stupid paperwork and inspections to fret about

    1. That sounds brilliant. It is something I have looked into but found the idea of being self – employed very daunting after so long in the profession. I am still considering it! Thanks so much for commenting ☺

  8. This is such an interesting and sad post. My mum is a recently retired teacher and when I was little the profession certainly was family friendly. She was able to go back on part time hours once my little sister started school, and we enjoyed lots of summer holidays together. I never seem to remember her doing endless marking in the evenings, or planning at the weekends. But I can see so clearly in her how much the job changed over the years, and how her love for it diminished as the admin and the pressure became more and more intense. I’ll never forget when I voiced that I might want to be a teacher and she did her utmost to persuade me otherwise (which did work!)

    I really hope that something changes and you can find a better work-life balance (although that seems a bit of an unfair comment as it puts the onus on you, when it’s really the government that needs to adjust it’s attitude towards education)

    1. Thank you. I think you’re right – something definitely needs to be done as teaching is heading for a crisis otherwise. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Oh this is such a painful and heartbreaking post to read. You know my feelings on it and I won’t start ranting again but it is awful that fantastic teachers like yourself are being made to feel like they are failing and being made to feel like they have to choose between teaching and their family. In the end I had to choose my family but I still miss teaching and I can’t imagine what I will do when my youngest starts school as like you say I can’t imagine what other career I would want. I really hope that something changes in teaching so that you aren’t forced to make the decision to leave. Teaching is no longer family friendly and more people need to be made aware of that. I knew people that left working in finance to work in teaching because they wanted less hours and then they found they were working more hours in teaching so they returned to finance where at least they got the money for the long hours. But like you say a true teacher doesn’t do it for the money, they do because they care and they want to inspire and educate . However with the never ending paperwork this is made very difficult. Anyway I realise that I am ranting again so I will end it here! Xx

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. You are so right. I see it all around me and not just colleagues with children. We’re all stretched to breaking point. I’ll be soldiering on for this academic year at least. Don’t worry, rant away! Thanks so much your kind words. x

  10. my daughter is an English teacher and she is really torn about having children – for a lot of the reasons you have mentioned. I think she’ll probably be in your shoes one day – it’s hard being a working mum (especially when your children are sick!)

    1. It is really tough. The last few weeks have been heartbreaking with both mine so poorly. Thanks for commenting.

  11. Hi.. i remember going back after first maternity leave and realising that i couldn’t be both the perfect mother and perfect teacher. Something has got to give. It’s horrendous.
    I work 3 days at the moment and i’m still don’t feel up to date with any of it!

  12. And the government wonder why they struggle to find good teachers! It sounds like a thankless job with very little benefits. I guess that’s why they say it’s a calling. You have to care enough about the students to put up with everything else.

    1. Thank you. It can be wonderfully rewarding at times. But these days those moments are far outweighed by stress and anxiety. Thanks for commenting.

  13. I have had 5 years “out” as a stay at home mum, for exactly this reason- because I knew that teaching and having 2 kids only 18 months apart, would never work ( for me!) Teaching is not family friendly. My husband’s salary was less than mine, but we have struggled for 5 years, as I knew, I couldn’t manage, both roles successfully. I am in total awe of anyone that makes this work, I think a lot depends on your childcare options, ( I didn’t have any except nursery)your Head, your school, the culture of your school and your support network. I have had many people tell me, once they are parents, that they want to teach so they will have all the holidays off. Including those that confidentially tell me you can leave to collect your children by 4pm! I know teacher friends Who are regularly staying awake all night to mark, as they can’t do if when their babies are awake!

    1. Thanks so much. Our only option is nursery too. All relatives live hundreds of miles away and we’re both teachers. Part of the huge problem is my son and daughter are so unwell all the time. But the other side is that everyone is so overworked and stressed that any absence just generates huge amounts of work and stress for those off and those left to cover etc. Thanks so much for commenting.

      1. Maybe, the children are so unwell because they are also stressed! I like many others would not of been able to hold down a full time job and bring up my 3 children. I think partly because we are givers we need to give our all to either, cylinder nor career. I definitely struggled with the conflict. They are only young once, don’t look back and say I wish, as you can’t turn back the clock. Good luck with your future and look after those little ones they only have one Mum. Xxxx

  14. Brilliant post. I’m not a teacher although I worked in teacher training (strategy) for many years so I have some insight into the reality behind the profession. I have lost count of the amount of burnt out, career-changers I have met who have entered teaching full of enthusiasm and life to be former shadows of themselves after a very short time in their ‘vocation’.

    Yes lots of jobs have their pressures that is true, but I think that people are blinded by the holidays and short days that teachers have. It’s quite laughable really, short days?!? I know very few teachers who aren’t working every evening after school and at least one weekend day.

    My husband started a PGCE a few years ago and I saw first hand how gruelling just the training was. He never finished it and I totally supported his decision. Thesedays I think that teaching is a career for young singletons with no life. It’s virtually impossible to have a family life and teach 🙁

    I’ve seen the changes in teaching over the years and it’s not good. Retention is shocking. As for me I left my job in teacher training at the end of 2014. The coalition removed almost every source of additional funding I worked with and I asked for voluntary redundancy.

    But hey, think of the holidays 😉

  15. I have been there! After thirteen years in the profession, a profession I never thought I would leave, I have come to the conclusion, I need s break for my children. After being off sick with stress and anxiety since October, I have made the heartbreaking decision to leave. I love my job, I need my salary, but I as doing 60- 70hours a week and rarely got back for bedtime. I miss the children and families I have got to know so well over the last ten years at that school but it really is unsustainable. Hubby was becoming less supportive of my long hours, due to pay freezes and pension increases, he has fancied me leaving for a few years,and pursuing something else, but it was neve on my agenda, I am teacher through and through and can’t imagine anything else. This last few weeks, I have begun setting up a business, something I have thought about for years, but never dared to do! Now is the time, and if it doesn’t work, so be it, I will go back and pursue my dream of headship; but hopefully once there is more appreciation from the government and a better work life balance. With children 2, 5 and 7 , I simply need to devote more energy to them. After being off sick, my kids want me to try something different- so Learning Legendz is being born…. Eek http://learninglegendz.com

  16. I’m a teacher too and have been back at work for a couple of months at a primary school. Honestly, I could have written parts of this post. The guilt is huge towards home and school and how you get that balance between home and school I just don’t know. I’m one of those thinking of leaving because I don’t feel I can give my school kids all that they deserve. How can I? But like you said what else would i do? I’m a teacher.
    very well written x

  17. I am also an English teacher and have two children who are 7 and 9. In some ways it is a little easier now they are older and they don’t physically need me as much. However, I often still feel I am letting them down. I use up all my energy and patience on the kids at school and then have none left for them and find myself snapping at them. I feel like they are getting a raw deal from me…x

  18. Teaching is so underated these days and people don’t understand the commitment that teachers make, your day isn’t 9-5 and doesn’t end when you get home, you adopt other peoples monsters because you want them to succeed and all the while having your own family. Well done you because I certainly couldn’t do it! xx

  19. Totally agree. I was a teacher and a mum of three little ones. I wasn’t doing anything properly. Now I’m lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mum. I miss the children I used to teach but there is so much about teaching that I dont miss.

  20. I teach part time. Basically I work evenings and weekends and get paid for 3 days work. Whenever I sit down to play with the children or watch TV in the evenings, its with guilt that I should be marking, or I should be differentiating the next lot of lessons, or I should be reading the freshly updated set of IEPs. There’s never enough time to do everything I should be doing. I don’t know how much longer I can carry on. I don’t know how anyone doing the job full time is still sane 🙁

  21. Sadly, I think this is true of most situations working mums find themselves in – it’s not something which only relates to teachers. As a lawyer my hours were crazy pre-children (especially when completing a deal) in at 7 not home until the early hours. I made the switch to an in house role shortly after getting married as I knew I couldn’t continue in that vein when we had kids. However, even that position saw an 8 am start – so leaving the house before 7 am and not returning until 7-7.30 at night. I barely saw my child. I did that for approx 15 months and then decided I was missing too much. My child was missing me. I stepped back from my career 3 years ago. It was the best thing I ever did. So, in today’s market all working mums have it tough…

    1. I agree. While there are specific demands to teaching, on balance I think any working mother these days struggles to find time for her job and family. I was a paediatric nurse, and I, too, have left a poorly child at home to go and look after other people’s sick children (many of them were less sick than mine, due to the panic induced in a child with a fever and rushing them into hospital). Working nights and weekends, is just part of the job but, getting any allowance for being a parent was impossible. When I went into lecturing I found I was marking every evening, and all day Sunday, not spending valuable time with my children. Then, as a Health Visitor, again, helping families get by, the only way to cover the caseload was to work flat out in the day and catch up on paperwork at home. Plus, I was a single parent, so the workload felt double.
      My girls have left home now. I am too sick to work, and have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I am sure it is because I spent too many years running myself ragged, trying to do a good job all round, and constantly feeling a failure. It’s not just teaching, although this is a well written and heart-rending account, it’s most jobs – and I think it’s getting worse as time goes by.

  22. this is totally the reason I am avoiding going back to teaching…am looking for other school based work like Teaching assistant, office admin etc so that I don’t have the out of hours extras that come with teaching..hang in there. 🙁

  23. This was me. I am now a supply teacher and it’s the best decision I could have made for my family. I now have my evenings and all of my weekends to devote to my family and myself. The money is less but the time I have with my family more than makes up for it.

  24. What an honest and true post. I went back to Maths teaching after my first child and requested part-time (which I got – 4days a week) but it is a never ending juggle which only just works when everything is running smoothly but if either child is ill, or I’m unwell or our childcare arrangements fall through, it’s very stressful. Added to that is the ever growing expectations from school. An older colleague gave me the advice last year when I was frazzled, “Remember that your children will be with you for a lifetime – invest most in them” and I try to keep this at the front of my decisions, but end up feeling guilty that I’m not doing my job as best as I’d like to. I don’t think that there’s an easy road but know that you’re not alone x

  25. I have a 3 year old and a 10 month old. I have just gone back after mat leave. I am SENCO in a high school and teach only GCSE and A level. I am resigning. I need to be there for my children for a bit, and if that means no money, so be it.

  26. Unfortunately even if you change profession I don’t think it’s easy to get the balance right. I work full time and have a 2 and a 4 year old. I have a demanding job which pushes me to work 50+ weeks regularly. I’m fortunate that I do have family support now, but only after upping sticks and moving us all 300 miles to be closer to it. The guilt and the longing is still with me though. I chose to have my children, they are my number 1 priority and I want to to spend as much time as possible with them, but I still have a mortgage to pay. It’s an ongoing internal battle that I think all mothers have to some degree, guilt seems to come with the title mother. I’ve also thought about changing roles and becoming a teacher. Not because it’s easier or more family friendly, there are precious few jobs like that out there, but it is more worthwhile. Teachers do an amazing job, it’s a vocation, and while this government may not appreciate you the rest of us do. Take some comfort in that. X

  27. I am also in your position. I’m also a HoD and on a management course this year. Some of my friends and family think I’m insane. But I do genuinely love my job. You have to also remember that you’re a role model to your children. That’s what keeps me going when I’m feeling low. Also I often talk about my day to them so they have an understanding of what I do.
    Remember to speak to mum friends in other professions too, lawyers or nurses with shifts etc and they too are racked with guilt and working once the kids are in bed.
    I’m just trying to say don’t give up, you clearly love teaching and you’re making a difference in the classroom. You’ll just become bloody efficient at everything!

  28. Wow what a post! I am an English HoD and single mum of two small ones. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve said “go to bed, mummy is marking” or the like. My children spend most of our school holidays in my classroom, and they have even had to come with me on a revision residential weekend.
    I find it increasingly difficult to balance my two hats, and I have no idea what I will do to make it better.

  29. Wow! Such a powerful article. I feel exactly the same and as a perfectionist strive to be perfect in both roles, and always failing! It is comforting to hear that I am not alone.

  30. This is me, my children are the same age, I teach secondary, I medicate through the anxiety and pressure. I’ve taught forever and my husband teaches, ergo, I feel so stuck. I don’t know who I’d be if I left. The only thing left is to take a deep breath, pull a sick day when needed and soldier on. At least we’re not alone. X

  31. This broke my heart. I’ve never taken teachers for granted, but to read of the struggle that you face in such raw terms was very moving, and certainly refreshed my appreciation. I am so sorry for the tough times that you and your family have faced, and hope that you find some balance soon, whatever that looks like for you. Thank you for speaking up and sharing your experience. Love to you and your two beautiful children.
    (Apologies if this posts twice, our internet connection is atrocious!)

  32. This is a fantastic post. I too am an English Teacher and a mother of a four year old and a one year old. I am currently in the middle of creating a presentation to be second in dept and I have 39 parent evening appointments tomorrow followed by my presentation and interview on Friday. I just can’t do it! Also, my one year old has NEVER slept through the night – not once. I also work full time as you can’t get anywhere in teaching unless you are full time. Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one going through this, but clearly I am not.

  33. I totally agree with you. After eleven years of teaching and reaching the dizzy heights of Deputy Headship, I can’t see how our profession is sustainable for women with children. Whilst in labour I was sending work into school for an impending Ofsted inspection for fear of letting my team down. At the very moment that I should have been preparing to meet my daughter for the first time, work came first. It saddens and sickens me that central government don’t see that the teacher crisis is borne out of years and years of telling us we are rubbish, paying us less and wanting more and more and more. If I could earn the same money and do a different job, I would, tomorrow. I have been graded as an Outstanding Teacher on many inspections, and have a successful career. But every day I wish I did something else. I can never get to the bottom of the endless pile of work. “Mummy can’t read stories tonight baby, I’ve got the timetable to write”

    The irony of constantly putting the needs of other people’s children before my own precious little girl is beyond ridiculous. But, society dictates that you can have it all. Providing you are prepared to be constantly criticised for everything you do. A parent emailed me today asking why I wasn’t putting on a school production this year. My first reaction was frustration as I simply do not have the time, I barely have the time to do all the jobs on my list and manage to get back for a swift bedtime, and then work into the small hours every evening and weekend. But to add an additional 200 hours on top so that her children can perform is just too much. I get it, kids want enrichment. It genuinely is good for them. There is no better window than a school show. But what gives? My sanity, less sleep, my teaching, leadership, my family, my marriage? Last week I took a school trip to the theatre. I left the house at 6:45am to get into work, I got back the following morning at 2:15am as there had been a road closure. I’ve not had a single thank you. To be clear, I did not take the children to the theatre for recognition, I did so to ensure they would be able to complete an important section of my course. But, whilst extending my day and supervising the fairly large group of children I missed my own. As I will tomorrow night at Governors. Some may say that I get paid to do these things, what they don’t see is that I average 70-90 hours of work a week. I certainly don’t get paid enough to justify that work load or the accountability if I don’t get things complete.

    Education minister also the minister for women. She was posting this week that she aims to get more women to Headship. The thought of being a Head in modern society with the accountability frightens me witless. There is no way on this earth that I will even consider it. One wrong move and I’ll be out of a job, homeless and unable to feed my child. What woman wants to take that risk? Who would put themselves in that position?

    Untenable? – yes
    Solvable – yes

    Trust us to teach
    Trust us to transform learning
    Be grateful for all we do
    Expect less and celebrate more
    Stop changing things and back us up to be the best that we can be and get the best from the kids that we work with
    SORT out the recruitment crisis by paying us properly and stopping teacher bashing in the press

    Maybe then, we’ll all stop telling graduates to consider another career. In my job, I look after NQTs. If I didn’t need them to make the school run, I’d tell them to run for the hills and go and find another career that won’t render them feeling useless and sap their soul.

    I’m not sure who teaching is for anymore. Maybe for unsociable people who don’t have a relationship, friends or any kind of family. You certainly can’t have hobbies; no time for that. It may be better for us all to be replaced with robots, maybe then they’ll get what they want!!!

  34. It was good to read this, thank you for helping me process my own life choices. I left my job teaching in prison last year, just 3 months after returning from maternity leave. I think it actually broke my heart, I loved my career path so much and felt like it was what I was born to do. 10 months on, I can see that leaving before I made myself truly ill was absolutely the right thing to do in my situation. I felt terribly guilty for months but the years with my little one are passing quickly and there will hopefully be plenty of time to look after everyone else in years to come X

  35. Brilliantly explained. Please send to Nicky Morgan along with the information that many teaching mothers, such as myself, work 5 days for 3 days pay, as the only way to have weekends with your family is to be part time and do schoolwork on your days off. Colleagues who don’t have this choice for financial reasons, are all heading for breakdowns or the door.

  36. This seems to be a concern for teachers world-wide. I teach in the United States and have just turned in my letter of resignation for the next school year for this very reason. What concerns me the most is the number of teachers leaving because of the paperwork, stress level, and requirements. There have been multiple state in the US that actually had a shortage of teachers this school year. As a parent of young children, it also concerns me that parents are not standing up and demanding change…they are not advocating for the teachers. With teachers stressed, budgets cut, testing linked to pay, the increase in passing requirements on the students, paperwork increased, all the documenting so you can prove you are doing your job, and feeling torn between being a mom and being a teacher, this could easily and is very likely to affect their child’s education and future. It baffles me!

  37. Noone should ever feel like this consumed with guilt for trying to be the best of both worlds. The problem is how can we be any better than our best when they push us to the point of no return. Your children need you but your pupils do too. It is like a conundrum that cannot be fixed and it saddens me that the state of our society has altered so much. I don’t believe that jobs should be ranked in accordance to performance based targets, never have and never will. In large part it is because of I am a socialist and liberal and believe that we should advocate for shorter working hours and more support so that our children can be given the love and attention they deserve. I admire everything that you do and want to let you know that you have an admirer and friend in me. Reading this let me into a piece of your world previously unexplored and made me connect with you in a way that is parallel to my own existence. Stay strong we are all here for you x

  38. I retired from teaching almost 2 years ago and it was the best thing I have ever done. I have my weekends back. I can go to bed when I want instead of marking or writing plans out in detail or highlighting targets for each child or paying for lesson plans to save some time or going to meetings about changes to the curriculum or being told I’m inadequate if my class fail to meet some county target. I used to enjoy my job so much but in recent years it’s become repetetive, prescribed and more about data than children. I advised my son to go into anything but teaching as I know he would have been overwhelmed by guilt constantly whilst trying to keep up with all the nonsense.

  39. Thank you for sharing your experiences – I have read this as a cautionary tale as I am currently on mat leave with my first child. I’ve asked for 3 days from Sept and the thing I aim to keep in mind is that I know in later life I would regret time missed with my son but not regret not working more. I have built up to a point where I am an experienced primary teacher and qualified SENCo but I will be happy to use my skills elsewhere if – when – teaching starts to be contrary to who I want to be as a person and mum. Happily unlike others here I always saw teaching as one possible career rather than a definition of who I am, so moving on wouldn’t threaten my identity, but I can appreciate that feeling. I wish you all the very best and thanks again for sharing your experiences so that others can focus and not feel alone.

  40. I think this is very interesting. I’ve been teaching for 13 years and have a 3 and 1 year old. I will be leaving the profession (probably for good) as I start maternity leave in September to have my third child. I am lucky, my husband is an Assistant Head and will hopefully make headship, so financially we can afford it. I am deeply shocked that you felt you had to send cover while in hospital or send your child to nursery with a 40 degree temperature. My children come first and teaching does not account for that. My love of teaching has declined and I resigned from HOD, it is utterly impossible to keep up with all the changes, new pressures (bloody controlled assessment) and raise a family while keeping your mental health. I am counting down the months for end of this chapter of my life. I might return (I doubt it), but in the meantime I will be happy to be mum to my three children. They think that only daddy teaches ‘children to count’, and I will remind them that I was once an outstanding teacher too, I worked at Mossbourne for Sir Michael Wilshaw, everyone there is young childless and driven to be the best they can, but I moved onto tougher schools and my drive to be an outstanding mother became stronger. If I don’t leave now (while I’m still reasonably good at my job) I will leave in disgrace.

  41. You have written this as though it were my own thoughts and is imagine of every teacher out there. Except I did escape- into supply. I always thought supply and motherhood would be too much of a stress – never knowing if I’d get a call that morning or not. However, I completely forgot that teachers go on courses etc and that is all pre planned. So now, a week in advance I know exactly what I am doing the following week and I have built up a little collection of schools that I work with. It isn’t quite the same as having my own class but I’ve got to know the kids and have some sort of bond with them. The best bit is – I get to teach. No paperwork, no meetings, no politics. Just teaching. x

  42. My little boy is nine now, I went back to full time English teaching off maternity when he was eight months old. Everything you’ve described I’ve felt. The worst was an Ofsted inspection while he had chickenpox. I went to work. It does get easier as they get older. They get sick less often and need you less. That said, there are many nights still when he sits in my classroom waiting for me to finish working so we can go home (our schools are nearby so I can go and fetch him then come back). He’s learned the holidays are our time and so have I, and come what may I refuse to work more than a day or two in those. He does moan about my job, but he’s old enough to understand it gives us our house and our life now, which helps. While they are small my advice would be go part time if you possibly can, three days not four (not worth it, it’s then just a full time job in less hours for less pay). The time they are little flies by. We couldn’t afford for me to, and the hours I’ve had to work and my job in general are why we only had one child. I would have loved more but it didn’t seem fair. I think the attitude that we have it easy is possibly the hardest part of it all!

  43. Thank you for this article, I would like to offer another point of view. I don’t have children, am not married, and yet I feel swamped with work. I’ve been told that I have more time to complete tasks as I don’t have to worry about children or a partner, but I have to do my shopping, clean my house, tend my garden, walk the dog (who has also been told to go away, ‘mummy’ needs to get this work done).
    I work in a tough school, been bullied in a previous school by management (ended up off with depression, and handing in resignation), and dealt with 4 changes in Principles in as many years. We get asked for a representative of our departments to attend meetings and then feedback (to lighten the load), but I’m the only member of my department. I’ve had to cancel my afterschool club at short notice due to ‘quick meetings’ and there is no one else who can take it. I’m currently off work with anxiety, and don’t expect my bosses to be at all sympathetic when I return as outwardly there is nothing wrong.
    I totally agree with what has been said in the article and comments, and remember my shock when I confided to a friend at work that I was now on anti-depressants only to discover she was too, and then more and more people admitted they also were taking them. It was like a secret club.
    We forget that there are others feeling as we do, have the same worries and fears, but can be frightened to admit it in case management see us as being ‘weak’.
    Good luck to everyone who has left this profession, I applaud your courage, and to everyone staying, I just hope the Government recognises the impact of a teachers current working life on teachers and children before it’s too late.

  44. This is also why I left. I was a primary school teacher and my husband is too (now a teaching headteacher.) During his time working as an Assistant Headteacher there is no way I could have worked. Apart from caring for our children, he needed to be cared for too – arriving at school by 7.30am and arriving home at 6.50pm to help put the children to bed and then following that up with more school work. He’d also spend a day of the weekend working. There are great things about the job- creativity, the children, variety… but it is now tremendously hard work – mainly because you have to prove your accountably all the time and that requires a lot of paper work. Sometimes I think I could go back – need a pension, a bigger house and garden would be nice. But actually, the children have me and I’m not stressed. We walk to school and chat and that’s as much as I want from life at the moment. We are very fortunate to be able to make that choice however and unfortunate that teaching has become so all-consuming that it’s really an option for me to return yet.

  45. I’ve said elsewhere that teachers are their own worse enemy. I know it is the nature of teachers to do their best by the children they teach but while teachers are willing to put school before home life and work 60 hours+ a week the system will stay the same. Teachers shouldn’t strike just collectively work their contracted hours and no more. For good, not just for a short period. Things will fall apart at first but a new way of working will have to emerge.

    As for dealing with sickness it is the same in any job. I had a phone call 2 days ago from nursery as I had sent my poorly child to nursery ill and she’d been sick. I was teaching a workshop so had to get oh to pick her up. Because she was sick she can’t go back for 48 hours so oh and I both had to take a day off to cover as we have no support from family. This is life and work just have to suck it up. We’ve both been reasonable and shared the time needed between us. What else can I do leave a 3 year old home alone? I suppose I could bring her in to work but I doubt anyone would have got any work done.

  46. Honestly I am in awe of teachers, and thank you thank you thank you for all that you do. You sound like a wonderful mother and teacher, you really do.

    One thing that would have benefited the article would have been for you to have mentioned the school holidays that you receive which undoubtedly are a positive and, by including this in the article, would have made it a little more balanced.

    Other than that, reading it was a very powerful experience. I am sorry you are going through this, but know that what you are doing, both being s mother and a teacher, are two incredibly important jobs.

  47. Apologies if this is a bit obvious or has already been mentioned but have you considered trying to find work as a cover supervisor or teaching assistant or similar, just for while your children are very small? Of course it would mean a dramatic pay cut which you may well not be able to afford with a family to support. All the best to you, i do hope you work out something a bit more sustainable for yourself and your family very soon indeed.

  48. How many times have I uttered almost those same words .
    I have been retired for some years now – and oh how I fear for The Profession ;- teachers no longer have the time to teach – there are too many boxes to be ticked !

  49. I think this is really something all professional Mums struggle with, gone are the days of simply clocking in and clocking out at the end of the day, unfortunately more and more is expected of us professionally outside of traditional office hours. It’s a reall struggle to manage a carrier we want to succeed in and a family.

  50. This is me. I’m returning to work in a week after my second maternity and this sums up exactly how I feel. I just hope the love of being in the classroom and teaching the children will keep me going for a few more years and then I can think about what to do next if things don’t change.

  51. I don’t know how anyone with children can do the job. I have grandchildren and I have little time and energy for them and I need to hire a cleaner even for a three up three down. It could be my age (56) but I’m not sure. Would I do it until 66? No! I go from term to term and year to year, wishing my life away until the next holiday. I refuse quietly to do excessive marking and just put extra comments on books being collected. Play the game to survive. Even then you have to put a lot of extra hours in. Family should come first because life is short!

  52. The comments have somewhat run away with me. There have been so many overnight and today that I don’t have time to reply to all individually now but I just wanted to say I am reading them all and finding your support overwhelming. xx

  53. You summarise, so well, exactly why I left. The workload and stress is incredible. I now work as a cover supervisor and am very happy working 8.45-3.15 and walking out at the end of everyday knowing that my job stops there. I have gained back 24 hours per week (that’s 2 whole days!!!) I actually don’t know how I did it. Teachers have superpowers. You only know how hard a job it is if you have been one.

  54. This honest and open post should be sent to Nicky Morgan given that her latest initiative is to encourage mothers who are teachers back into the classroom. Perhaps it will help her understand the constant dilemmas faced and why so many are forced to leave for their own, and their family’s well-being.

  55. Totally empathise with this. I spent 16 years teaching secondary maths. There was no way I could continue my career and also have a family (3 year old and baby) so I gave it all up. Husband is also a teacher and the hours he puts in are bad enough so 2 of us doing it was impossible.

  56. I am leaving after 29 years in July, I loved my job, now anti-depressants are the only thing that allow me to go in each day. I was a great teacher but I freak out when being observed, I feel lie I am going to the gallows. 79 teaching days and counting!!

  57. Brings it all back reading this and makes me so sad. I started teaching 6 years ago and gave it my all. It finally became too much when I became a mum. I suffered like you for a year and a half and I finally handed my notice in. I am now a childminder 4 days per week and it was the best decision I’ve made for a while. I spend lots of time with my daughter and my husband. I’m not stressed. I sleep. I’m not working until midnight every night. I wish you luck in whatever you do and completely respect any teacher who is also a mum xxx

  58. I’m a teacher who, after 11 years, thinks I’ve exhausted my time in this profession. I have 2 children (6&3) and after I returned to work after my first I still managed to have a reasonable work life balance ( I also worked part time which helped). Fast forward to me returning after my second maternity leave, and I felt like I’d gone back to a completely different job. The ridiculous amount of marking, feedback, paperwork etc is just crazy. I’m planning an exit strategy. I really don’t know how anyone manages full time anymore, I literally couldn’t do it.

  59. An interesting post, as a working mother of three who was not a teacher I still found huge areas of crossover with this lady’s experience. Sadly any job that a mother does puts pressure on the family- I have sat in my car crying that I am paying childcare for someone else to enjoy my children’s infancy. Sat in meetings exhausted by a night spent with a sick child & conscious that I had no choice but to be there or face problems when targets were not achieved. Left home at 5.50am, arrived back at 7.45 too tired to be patient or as kind as I would like and knowing that I am desperate for them to settle as I still have a report to write. I have felt inadequate as a mother, a wife and a member of staff – too thinly spread in all areas of life to make a difference in any of them. As time has passed I can see that this is not how others saw me and that my children still love me & did not feel neglected. You have to make the right decisions for your family but it is not a problem confined to the teaching profession or indeed just to women – many men also feel that they spent their children’s infancy in meetings.

  60. Thank you for writing such an honest and open article. I feel like it could have been written by me two years ago. I can relate to each and every point which you made……..so after 13 years of teaching, I made the decision to leave……for good……so I could spend more time with my two small children, who were 2 and 1 at the time.
    Leaving was the best thing I did. Before I left, I felt like I wasn’t being a very good mother or teacher as I was being pulled and stretched in so many directions. I was always playing ‘catch-up’ just to keep my head above water. I would ‘will’ my children to fall asleep at night, just so I could get on with my planning or assessments. Everything felt so ‘wrong’! In addition to this, two-thirds of my salary was being spent on nursery bills!!
    Making the decision to walk away was hard; financially and emotionally. It was the only career (and school) which I had known. What if I was making a massive mistake????
    Two years on, I am a much happier, healthier and less stressed person. I can devote so much more time to my children which I am grateful for. Being a Mum is busy enough……
    I now work in a tutor centre, working with primary aged children and do this for 9 hours a week. In monetary amounts, this equates to 2 x days of supply work, so the money is good. My children are now 4 and 3 and I can walk them to school/nursery and collect them on most days too! I am happy that I am still using my teaching skills but am so pleased that I have followed another avenue, minus the politics and huge paperwork demands.
    On a slightly different note, it makes me feel sad that many excellent teachers are becoming so disillusioned and wanting to leave the profession, sometimes in the early stages of their career. Since my son started school in September, I see ‘teaching’ in a different light. I appreciate absolutely everything my son’s does……so what if his homework hasn’t been marked, or his reading book hasn’t been changed this week? I know it will be eventually……I just know (and totally sympathise with) how busy and snowed under she is and what a totally remarkable job she is doing, all with a smile on her face. Teaching can be a thankless job – sometimes just a small amount of appreciation can raise the morale of overworked and stressed-out teachers…….however, sadly, there will be more and more teacher leaving in the coming years unless things dramatically change to the demanding workload and unsustainable expectations.

  61. It’s such a shame that teaching is losing a lot of good teachers, it seems it’s imploding! I too couldn’t do it and it was probably the hardest decision I’ve made but once I’d made it it easy such a relief. I am now a better mum (not perfect), have time and energy for them, accompany them on school trips, watch all their school stuff, cook most nights. The sad thing is I don’t miss teaching, don’t miss the stress and workload and constantly feeling I’m not good enough and could do more, so much more – for other people kids while mine missed me! No more! I foynd another way and now work from home hours ti suit me and no-one on my back! I’d have you and any teacher any day to join my business, with a fraction of the drive and work ethic I know you’d have you’d be an asset! Feel free to get in touch.(chezza01@gmail.com)

  62. I shared this on my Facebook page because I think people who are not in a school, or teaching profession really don’t have a clue of how much the system is about pushing papers and less about the student sees days. That’s detriment to the students as well as The teachers who want to make a difference in people’s lives. People in general don’t seem to get much a teacher does behind-the-scenes, how hard they work in the holidays for lesson planning, as well as balancing a life of their own with their family . Sorry today was not a good day for you. Sending lots of hugs Xxx

  63. I could have written this eighteen months ago. My girls were three and one too and I was head of department at one of the top academies in the country. I was on the verge of a breakdown for two years but I kept going because there was no one to take over and financially I had to work. I’ve never been unhappier and never felt so useless.

    It took me getting cancer and my school telling me to leave or be sacked when I told them (yeah, illegal I know) I walked away without a second glance. It broke my heart to leave my students and the subject I love but I really had to. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. Teaching is about giving, you’re right but, to use a well known quote “you can’t pour from an empty pot.” If you don’t look after yourself and your family, you won’t be able to be an effective teacher and any school that doesn’t understand that cannot be taking care of their staff very well. I hope the situation resolves for you. I’m currently trying to find another teaching position but I won’t rush it, my youngest is only two and a half. With all the childcare fees, we’re not that worse off with me being at home! Good luck and I hope it gets easier for you x

  64. I am not a teacher, I am however a full time working mother, I completely empathise.
    The question, I feel, is not if teachers are over worked, but rather are women overworked?
    I will admit to not reading all the posts so some may be from working fathers.? I wonder what that particular percentage looks like.

  65. I feel like you have just written everything that is in my mind. I also have a 1 and 4 year old. It’s so hard. The bit that really stuck in the throat was the parents evening after 2hours sleep and then you don’t get back to kiss them good night. My husband works nights, so he is about for some days but the constant evenings are always a call to family to have the children. Not just parents evenings but open evenings, ks3/5, concerts, shows, etc etc. I don’t think there is an answer and it isn’t going to get better. The pay, the hours, the demands. Thanks for sharing though. I no longer feel alone. I also agree it is a struggle many parents have in many different jobs.

  66. I identify with every word of this. I’m a drama teacher. I went back to work four days which then was cut to three, it was that or redundancy. I struggle to do my job well on three days. I have to work on my days off. Sometimes I do, any spare child free moment, other weeks I don’t. When I don’t, the guilt lays in my brain, haunting me. I just need some extra time in school to mark and organise myself. #bloggersclubuk

  67. This is so sad, but unfortunately not unique or surprising. I have been teaching full time for over 20 years and my children are now grown up. I have seen the teaching profession change beyond recognition. My advice to all you younger teachers with dependent children at home is to stop. You won’t get these precious years back. I have continued to love teaching, but it has very nearly broken me. I am now in the fortunate position of being able to take early retirement at the end of this academic year. I lost my lovely mum almost two years ago now and it is this life-changing tragedy that finally made me re-evaluate my career; this vocation of teaching. I have memories of marking books in the passenger seat, whilst my husband drove us down the motorway to visit her at the hospice. I sat by her bedside planning when she slept. Life is just too short. For one year, when between jobs, I worked as a supply teacher. I was offered more work than I needed. I urge you to consider this. It enables you to fulfil your desire to teach without taking over your life. Love your babies and love yourself. You only get one shot at this thing called life.

  68. Wow! You have summed up so eloquently every single thing I am feeling at this moment in time. I am constantly battling with the feeling of being a failing Mum…failing teacher…failing wife and failing housewife!!! You’ve mentioned every feeling that brings you down and makes you more and more
    Aware of what you can’t do. You literally cannot spread yourself that thin!!
    I am completely exhausted and run on zero energy everyday.
    I am seriously considering leaving the profession as I just don’t feel it’s worth breaking me
    Down completely anymore.

  69. Wow- you have experience far more clearly and eloquently, why I have resigned and will be leaving my teaching job at Easter. I love teaching but I love my daughter and value my family life more. As you say, my job constantly conflicts with my family life and the stress and misery needs to stop. I don’t know how we will manage financially. I am going to have to do supply work initially and money will be v tight with no pay in the holidays but for me, this is absolutely the right choice. I lost my dad suddenly at 17 and whilst this was and is the worst thing to happen to me, it has also given me a valuable perspective on how short life is. I love teaching and am so, so sad to be leaving my job but for me, it is definitely the right call. Sadly I have to agree that at thecmoment teaching is a very “family unfriendly” job. Best wishes to you and I hope you can find a solution that means you get your precious early years with your children back. X

  70. Try being a Barrister, and having a young family!!! God be with the day that the young Husband never wanted his Wife to work!!! Looking back i am sure we all done with out a lot of the Material things all young people need to day!!! But we had no foreign holidays, but lots of family time around the kitchen table!!! Money could not buy it. Just a Humble opinion.

  71. Having moved out of teaching I chose to return to the classroom on rearrival to UK after 10 yrs overseas and a broken marriage. I left again when my youngest told me one night ” just because you’ve been shouted at by yr 11 doesn’t mean you can come home and shout at us”. I was stressed: By curriculum, by assessment, by prep, by marking. And I was only a supply teacher. I missed any sense of the creativity I had enjoyed in my early career. I felt thwarted. Horrible. And I love teaching.

  72. I totally feel your plight. Although I am not a “teacher” I had all those same feelings as a young mom with a career. In my day we only had 6 months maternity leave and that is just not enough. I had to tote my 6 month old to a sitter early in the morning, work all day, pick her up, rush home and make supper and put her to bed. That was some life! I gave up my job after three months of that life and never looked back. It was a sacrifice financially and we did without but I had my babies and held them close. I feel such agony when I see young families today who do not have that option. I just did not have it in me to do both. I do not have any regrets and feel blessed. It was not easy either, it was a lonely life for an adult too!

  73. This is a really true picture of the teaching profession. I have felt almost every one of the feelings of the author. I too have felt my days in teaching are numbered. On many occasions I have felt like a better teacher than mother and I have constantly sacrificed time with my own children for my students. It is an impossible balance and one that recently brought me to the same breakdown the author fears too is nearing.

  74. I’m an English teacher too and left to work abroad 10 years ago to find a better work life balance and enough money to save.

    Unfortunately the expectations followed a few years later and 3 years ago after health problems, after a heart attack at 44, caused by stress, I made the decision to leave the profession.

    Sometimes it feels like I’ve failed but I now get to spend time with my family and actually see my husband and finally have a life.

    After all this isn’t a dress rehearsal and I know no one would thank me for giving up my life for their children.

    The time we have is the most precious asset we own and there’s no way to get back years missed.

    Yes the profession is a calling, it’s a love and something we do because we care deeply about the next generation, about those in our care. But who cares for the teachers? Who cares for you and your children?

    Sorry I’ve gone on a bit, sometimes I look at what is happening and wonder why there are any teachers left?

  75. Sending you & every other mummy teacher lots of love and hugs, I left teaching primary for Pre-school once I had children as there was slightly less paperwork (lot less money) but it was a better balance… sadly not anymore. I don’t know the answer, wish I did and then I wouldn’t also be considering leaving education which I love, all together. xxx

  76. I really hope that you will find a solution that suits you as a mum and a teacher as well. I think mums can be too tough on themselves. We always feel guilty not being perfect – not making rainbow pasta and that our kids don’t eat a bowl of broccoli for dinner every night. Some people are not being cut out to be a stay-at-home-mum… Some people are better mums if they get to enjoy a career. I’m not saying that you might be one of them, I just would like to tell you to give yourself some grace. It sounds like job share would be perfect for you. I truly hope that the future may hold a position like that for you.

  77. What a fantastic piece of writing about something so tough…. I am a teaching Mum, in primary school. I have been fortunate enough to be able to go ‘part time’ (ranging between 36 and 40 hours per week). My husband also teaches (full time -approximately 60 hours per week). I have wrangled with my ‘choices’ too and I completely feel your pain. I completely relate to the feeling of not being good enough at either role – it really depressed me. My boys are now 10 and, nearly, 14. They’re pretty well adjusted and I think kids are more resilient than us…. What we do is just normal to them now. Your children will grow up just fine, because you’re clearly very conscientious and a good, strong role model. How you will survive, is the question. Having said that, if I could give up teaching, I probably would, even now…. My boys still need me and I would like my house to look like something other than a pig sty! The struggle continues. Wishing you and your family luck and a resolution to your problem. Thank you for sharing your story. X

  78. I know i shouldn’t love what your going through but I do, cause I’m having this struggle also, only I can’t find the right words like you have.
    I have two babies 1 and 3, I teach Pe and i am head of dance. The time spent at fixtures mean I never kiss my babies before bed and the head of dance title with no extra pay mean I spend my weeks surrounded by paperwork and analysing video footage.
    There isn’t a solution or a right thing to say to make it better, however I do hope my children see the values of having a job and working hard……we’ll see… Stay strong xx

  79. My heart goes out to you as it does to other working parents. The struggle to balance work and home, especially when work is becoming more and more demanding, is one that many face and feel that they fail at. I know I did. If I stayed and did overtime to get my job done properly I would then sit sobbing over my sleeping boys, or if I left on time to get home for bath and bedtime I would feel guilt about work and end up working once they’d gone to bed. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I am much happier now I am working for myself and get to do school drop off and pick up, assemblies, parent reading etc. I hope you find your solution X

  80. I have every sympathy with you as I have experienced first hand the type of life you have, having been a English teacher of 40 years ,also bringing up a young family. What you describe is not new, it has been going on for at least 40 years and I also suspect even longer than that! Like you, I felt that I was and still am a teacher and could not contemplate an alternative path. Fortunately, I was able to retire at 60 before the new rules took place. Had this not been possible, I now know that I would have retired on health grounds. In short, the chronic stress created by the demands of the job have left me with chronic health conditions which make daily life difficult .Having missed the classroom,I have gone back to supply work, but found that one day’s contract tends to merge into 3 weeks and then a term! Due to the pressures put on my colleagues, as a supply teacher I am expected to do more and more. I resent this to an extent, although from other teachers perspective it is understandable. Supply rates have not changed from the last 30 years and I am fully taxed on everything I earn. If I return to full time employment and exceed what I had previously earned as a teacher, then my pension is reduced. In effect they would expect me to work for nothing! On reflection, had I had my time over again, I would of put the health and welfare of my family first! As so many are leaving the profession, schools are finding it more difficult to recruit and retain staff ( rightly so). Maybe they will be forced to not only pay the going rate for staff; but also be realistic about the pressures and stresses of the job and take seriously their “duty of care”( This will only happen when they realise that there is no one left to replace those they have burnt out). I wish you well in your chosen path but under the proviso of “you only have one life which contains many paths” Choose the one that makes you happy and value the family that you have created. Failure to do so will not only impinge upon your life but the life of your children and future generations.

  81. So, if money was not an issue, would it not make sense to take a career break in order to prioritise your relationship with your children and then return to teaching? Surely this would be consistent with a ‘teacher heart’ and not mean that you are betraying your calling ? Nobody seems to be making the connection that the pressure/need for both parents to ‘work’ whilst also bringing up a young family is a culture that we should be taking a stand against. There’s certainly a growing number of teachers who are doing this in order to home-school their own children for a few years (or even more). We should then also develop a culture of welcoming returning teachers back into the profession in a way that values their additional experience rather than making them feel that they need to be retrained and penalised for taking this break.

  82. This has put into words the internal struggle I suffer most days. The times I also feel the most guilt is Christmas time, when my primary school aged boys have Craft Fairs, Nativity Plays, Christmas School Parties, none of which I can take time off to attend. No more are we allowed to take a morning to attend anything regarding our children. The guilt, the anger, the sadness at not being able to attend something that for my boys is so important to them is heartbreaking.

  83. Amazed at the ignorance of this article, and those who have shared it on Facebook – which is where I came across it. It is written as though nobody else experiences these problems. I am a company director and so is my partner, together, in the private sector – I’m 30 years old and couldn’t have a child yet if I wanted to because of how non-family-friendly my job is at the moment – I have to work my backside of to get to a position where my company could cope without me for any amount of time: what a luxury to have a pension at all, cover available, secured wage, sick pay/maternity pay/cover, any time off at all, and all the other perks, which I think teachers and other public sector workers forget are actually perks! The only time I can have time off is the couple of weeks we close for xmas, but even then I’m on my laptop keeping tabs. This is constant stress 24/7/365. We do it to earn a lifestyle that we want and build our own security. Every penny earnt is on a constant performance based knife-edge – not just being ‘observed’ in a lesson on nine occasions in a year. This woman doesn’t know she is born! I have several friends who are teachers and my goodness they have it good compared to me that’s for sure. They have it far better than countless other jobs I couldn’t even tell you! Especially concerning family-friendliness. I’m not saying teaching is all smooth sailing and stress-free by any means, but she isn’t half naive about the rest of the job market at any kind of half-decent level.

    1. Guessing diplomacy isn’t a prerequisite for your job?

      So, it’s ” your” company, is it? Hence you not having the benefits that come with being employed. So you are comparing two very different situations.

      I am not a teacher. I am a SAHM. I was a very well paid City worker in financial services. And yes, I was worked damn hard. But I didn’t have thirty youngsters relying on me for something as life-critical as their education. And I think therein lies the core of the issue. The jobs that you have and I had do not involve children. As you don’t have any children, quite simply you will not be able to comprehend the utterly all encompassing needs of children and how they suck the life from you (in a good way, if it’s your own child I hasten to add). No doubt you will take umbrage at this comment, as may other childless folk, but the fact remains, if you don’t have a child, you cannot grasp how much they absorb of you.

      You are building a company. Teachers are building people.

      There is a huge difference, and it is fairly shocking that you can’t see the difference in that.

  84. Great post which made me feel a bit weepy. Good teachers are worth their weight in gold and it is such a shame that you are getting treated this way. Unfortunately this isn’t the first post that I have read about teaching and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I do agree with Cat above this can also be said for a lot of professions. Good luck lovely x

  85. I feel for teachers at the moment, you have a really hard job and leaders should be doing everything they can to make it easier not harder. Having said that the idea that any full time professional job can be family friendly, if both parents work full time just isn’t true.

  86. Thanks for the post. I have been through this struggle. I have a 1 year old and 3 year old at home. For the last year, since my second was born, I have PUT FAMILY FIRST. I work 50 hours. When that time is up I go home and put my books down. You’re right, I have been observed more because I am not working hard enough. I have been on performance review and told ‘it will be hard for you to get a pay rise after this’. BUT I AM NOT CHANGING IT. I work full time, I leave school at 4:00 and play with my children three days a week. I work Mon, Tues and Wed evening from 7-10 (without fail). I have two late meeting days (as most of us do). I get evil eyes, I get told how I let the team down because of called in sick when my 3 year old was projectile vomiting. BUT I SMILE, IGNORE and keep going because at the end of the day I have a wonderful family, happy LOVED children and as always STILL give 100% to those children at school (within my 50 hour limit). I can honestly say I have found the balance for what is right now ME. I know I am letting people down. I know at times I make other peoples lives at work harder but I can not give more. I can no longer give this profession my sanity. I just wish more did the same (maybe I would feel less guilty).

  87. Can’t believe it’s the same all over the world! I feel like an orange- all my Me-juice is sucked and squeezed from me…… there is nothing left for the people that really matters….

  88. Hi, I believe we have met before on my husband’s blog!

    I just would like to express a few disagreements with the points made in your blog.

    Mainly, this:

    “More than this, as a parent, my profession is taking something far, far more precious from me: the brief years when my children really need me.”

    No profession does this: we do. You made a choice to return to work, to decide to spend less time with your children. ANY career you choose to return to means taking time away from your children that you may otherwise spend with them.

    For some people that’s an essential choice that means securing their children’s safety and security with an income that is necessary. For others, it isn’t.

    We make choices way before we have children that determine our ability to have a healthy work-life balance.

    Couples should be thinking about whether they purchase or rent a property that requires two salaries. And we should be thinking what sacrifices we can make in order to achieve more of a balance.

    My husband is a very happy teacher largely down to the fact that one of us doesn’t work, and that we have made huge sacrifices over the years to ensure that is the case.

    The fact that you began your career with little or no distinction between work and home life is telling I think because it sets a precedent for you and your family. It’s essential to draw a line between work and ‘family’, or ‘life’ or whatever you want to call it, whether you have children or not.

    I think articles like this are saturated with negativity and come off as very unprofessional. Teachers are presenting themselves to the world through viral blogposts such as this as whingey and martyr-like. Through the last few years in this country many hundreds of companies have slashed the pay of private sector workers while heaping extra work on them, because of the recession. But simply because they have a more diverse set of job titles and less solidarity they are far less vocal about their lot.

    It sounds like you are not so disillusioned about teaching but about being a working mum. If it’s possible for you, even if you have to make some extra sacrifices, why not consider staying at home with your children for a few years? I have been through enough sleepless nights myself to know that I couldn’t have coped with a career on top of everything else, and neither I, my husband or my children would have wanted me to.

    Lastly I would just like to mention THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS! I worked for a private company before having my children and 28 days per year is a huge difference from the 13 weeks teachers get. Yes my husband works a lot in the term but it’s more than worth it for the time we get as a family in the holidays. I come back to school with the kids in September and nearly every parent looks totally frazzled; I meanwhile have enjoyed 6 weeks of relaxed, easier-than-usual time with my husband and children. THAT is family-friendly!

  89. It doesn’t matter what profession you are in, the same applies. Deadlines / performance based metrics / paperwork. That’s the way the world is now. It sucks.

  90. Hi! I was in this position. I’d been a Senior Teacher in a village school with Deputy Head responsibilities before we met, married & had our children (now 8 & 5).

    I loved teaching, was passionate about the pastoral side as well as the imparting of knowledge side & went over & above the call of duty as a young, single teacher. Then, after our first child was born, I returned to only two mornings per week, covering PPA time, which continued for six years.

    Two years ago, I stopped. And our (then) six year old stopped school too. Now we are a very fulfilled Home Educating family: I am teaching full time, at home, our own children and it is the most rewarding teaching I’ve had the privilege to do. No feeling torn any more. No worry about missing our children’s milestones. Plus we know they are in great hands! …. Maybe this could be an option for you in a couple of years??

    Whatever you decide, I wholeheartedly agree with someone earlier who said that you must do what is right for your family. The time flies by and we Mums don’t get these years back. Thinking of you.

  91. How many “family friendly professions” are there!?? As a society, we have devalued the importance of parenting by placing an expectation on women (and in some cases men) to balance work AND being a parent. In previous generations one of the two parents in a family (usually the mother) didn’t work and instead made being the best parent they could their number one role. I know we live in more modern times but parents trying to balance work with the demands of parenthood are always going to find it tough, regardless of profession.

  92. As ‘Emma’ earlier said… “such a painful and heartbreaking post to read.” Teachers should not have to feel like they are failing and that they should choose between teaching and their family. I thank God that in my day I was able to stay at home with my babies, one of whom became a teacher. But life changes and I wouldn’t want to swap with her…I really hope that something changes in teaching so that teachers who are also mothers do not have to make a decision to leave the profession that has inspired them to make a positive difference in children’s lives? . Teaching is no longer family friendly and parents as well as the rest of the country need to be made aware of that. I see teachers leaving the UK to work elsewhere where their skills are thankfully valued as well as those becoming Teaching Assistants (as I am) to stay in the profession and feel a duty to educating the next generation without the stifling pressure. Teachers don’t enter the profession for money, they do it because it’s their vocation and they care about what truly matters. They want to be free, without the ridiculous burden of showing irrelevant data, to inspire the next generation who will then, hopefully deliver more importance in a creative learning experience than in the present education system!

  93. This really reminded me of how I felt 15 yrs ago when my two children were babies and I returned to work after my second maternity leave. When things were no where near as bad as they are now. I too left my children when they were poorly and put marking and paperwork before spending time with them just so I could keep afloat in my job. But I stuck it out, my children have grown into beautiful young adults and despite my constant cry of “Just let me finish this” they still love and respect me.
    Unfortunately my situation has recently changed and my 18 yr old daughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I have had to take leave from school to care for her and although we are going through some tough times I am loving spending time with her. We are so close and my only regret is that I didn’t put the pen down and spend those precious hours, days and years with her when she was younger. I can never get back that time and wish that teaching had not been so time consuming. My advise to all young mothers out there who are faced with the dilemma of work or family is family every time as you may never know when your life could change.
    As for my future, I know that whatever the outcome for my daughter I have been here for her when it really counts. Teaching is not for me anymore, I’m going to downsize my home and find something else to do which gives me more time for the important things in life, health and happiness.

  94. I am also a teacher and feel your struggle too. I do have to say that it is easier now that my kids are a bit bigger (all primary school age). I was lucky to have part-time work as an option while they were very little. Of course, I still feel guilty about missed sports days and special events now but they need me less and they are sick less now that they are older. Maybe you could work part time? Job share? Just for a few years until your youngest starts school and it all gets a little easier. It certainly saved us during that time.

  95. I was a chartered accountant and changed to teaching. I work MUCH HARDER as a teacher. It is physically and emotionally draining and your own family often takes a back seat. Not to mention the house admin. I find myself increasingly wondering how long I can last! Only other teachers can really understand how tough it is. It will get easier when your children are older and you can at least do homework with them in the afternoons… But of course you will be working late nights or early mornings to make up!

  96. My mum was a full time teacher and she totally trashed our childhoods as soon as she went into the profession. It’s the biggest regret she has. I’ve learnt my lesson from her – I’m a full time mum, I feel no regrets and no guilt. And no, I ‘can’t afford’ (by normal standards) to be a full time mum, my husbands salary is basic – but I’ve got the time to meal plan and shop around and learn skills myself, so I make it work. The only thing we can’t do is send our kids to clubs yet – but I figure that’s going to screw them up less than never seeing them because I’m working constantly and totally stressed the whole time.

  97. What a powerful post, you wrote my own feelings so eloquently. I have children of 15, 7 and 6. I miss them. In the 13 years I have been teaching it has changed so much and the pressure feels overwhelming and yet we keep going until we break. I want more for myself than the endless guilt, I want more for my children than an absent mother and I want more for their teachers than unmanageable stress and workloads. I absolutely love my job, I work hard to be as good at it as I can be but I cannot see this being sustainable.

  98. We teachers need to decide among ourselves what we will and won’t do, given the time available and the payment received. If we don’t take control of our working conditions, someone else will, and we will be milked dry.

    Secondly, the academics who drive the endless cycles of educational change need to spend at least half their time teaching in difficult schools. Let them lead by heroic example. When we lowly teachers witness their amazing successes, we will be much more inclined to take their advice.

  99. Thanks for this interesting post – many of us have been in this same battle of guilt, and we can all
    relate to the pain you feel. However, I would caution against the assumption implicit that it is the government causing this huge tension between teaching and motherhood. Yes, there is clearly a lot wrong with the education system now and the (as you say often ineffective) target driven demands it makes. But there are many mothers (and fathers, come to that) who give their all to their jobs in just the way you describe – doctors, nurses, charity workers, lawyers, social workers, many of whom bring work home and work late into the night, do not have cover enough to allow them to stay home guilt free when their own kids are poorly, and who in addition have the struggle of how on earth to cover the childcare during the school holidays. So i think Lakhvir gives you good counsel. It is time to take control and make some choices – you are probably too exhausted and too rushed off your feet with the everyday to find the headspace to think clearly about it so ask some friends to take you away for a weekend and help you think through some of the possible ways of avoiding burnout – leave for a year, go part time, job-share, explore other options (I wish some of my friends had helped me to do this when I was in the place you describe so eloquently). Just recognise that if you do elect to retain both roles of worker and mother (which sometimes makes us better mums), many other professions will present you with these same daily conflicts, challenges and heartbreaks, while not forgetting the satisfaction, growth and stimulation too. Good luck.

  100. I taught in a primary school for 8 years, never saw my kids really grow up, got bullied out of my job had to leave due to ill health. I went back teaching in the FE sector and that is going the same way, I am now looking to get out of teaching for good. I feel sorry for anybody that goes into teaching now it has changed so much.

  101. Apologies if I speak out of turn – and there is no disrespect intended as all of us are different, and this diversity is what makes life interesting – but I can’t understand why anyone would choose to work full time with children so young.
    I admire you – but there was no way I was going to let someone else experience my childs first step, first word, first tooth etc – I am far to jealous a person for that! – I wanted to make sure that it was me who was there for them every waking moment.
    I don’t know your financial situation, but I would argue that no mother needs to choose to work the hours and type of job you talk about; we (my husband and I) chose to have less money; my husbands job covered our bills when our children were small, and that was it – no money left over – but we were willing to accept that because our children needed me and I knew I couldn’t ever turn back time and get those years back.
    It seems to me that the best thing you could do right now for yourself, and your children, is stop working. – take note of the comment left above by the lady who tells of the regrets her Mother now has after working as a teacher when they were small.
    They will soon be at school themselves, and that might be the time to consider returning.

  102. Oft after 19 years and I don’t have children. I saw myself giving so much that Iwas not able to give enough to do the job they way it is designed to be done these days. There is too much prescription, accountability and not enough fun and joy in learning because everything has to be validated or tested in some way. I was short changing myself and my students so I got out. Now I do relief teaching at my old school and it is fabulous.

  103. I couldn’t have written this any better myself….. i feel exactly the same!! I have 2 todlers and somtimes struggle to juggle both!!

  104. An interesting read. I am new to the profession with a 7 year old and the balance is a actually quite good. Maybe you should consider part time until your own children are at school. They need your energy a lot more until then. Don’t burden yourself with too much….ages and stages. Give the wee ones your time till they re more independent. I hope you find some kind of happy balance whatever you decide.

  105. Whilst I don’t doubt your struggles, I don’t think “teaching” is the problem here. Being a working parent full stop is the problem! Whatever job you are in the pressures of being a working mum is exactly the same as you describe. The fear of calling in sick, the guilt of being a bad mum. You do however have to count your blessings, no other job gives you that much holiday. I get 4 measly weeks a year in which to spend with my little girls. I’d give anything to get a few more. The thought of having lovely days out with them during the school holidays would keep me going all term! Waking them up early in school holidays to take them to someones house who doesn’t even love them is tough and heartbreaking X

    1. I think the fundamental difference between working full time and being a working teacher/mom full time is we’re responsible for other people’s children. There is an emotional cost that does not exist in other professions. This is only my view, having worked in both kinds of careers with a small baby of my own.

      1. I agree with you about the emotional cost, but it is not unique to teaching. It exists in many other professions such as nursing, medicine, psychology and the police to name but a few. There are very few easy jobs to have when you are a mum!

  106. I totally understand having been through exactly this as a working mother who teaches. I often feel guilty that I give so much to the children in my class and have nothing left to give to my own precious son and daughter. We all do our best but it is a sad reflection on modern life that we have to make such tough choices as mothers. I had no choice but to return to work after 4 months after my first and 6 WEEKS after my second baby. I have gone into work having had no sleep at all on numerous occasions (sometimes because of staying up with sick or sleepless children and sometimes because the workload only gets done in those additional hours meant for sleep). I have left with tears streaming down my face listening to my child cry for me as I go. I think we have to examine very carefully the roles we expect women to perform in modern society, particularly when our children are young.

  107. I am also an English teacher and while my kids are all grown up I can truly identify with what you are experiencing.
    The only thing that kept me going through the years, was that while I was neglecting my own kids to teach other people’s kids, someone like you was doing it for my babies.
    In the end it’s not the salary or our so-called four holidays, it’s the job satisfaction, that cannot be found in any other profession, that sustains us.

  108. I thoroughly thoroughly sympathise. I taught English for over 20 years – the last 3 were the worst, not least of all because I had also become a mum and the constant tearing myself in two made me ill. I left after 6 months off sick. It has taken 2 years to recover and I still suffer from general anxiety syndrome. While we need to pay the bills, we only get one chance to bring up our children. And sometimes you really need to put yourself and your needs first. Take care of you. Best wishes. Xx

  109. This blog post has struck such a chord with me. I am a teacher and a mummy and I feel I do neither particularly well. I hate the nausea and panic when I can’t get my 4 year old and 1 year old to bed before 7:30pm because I am looking down the barrel of 4 hours marking before I go to bed. I hate the feeling of teaching a lesson that I know how to have done better but I had to choose comforting my poorly baby over planning that whizzy number. On Friday I went to work…to teach…with NO voice, tonsillitis, a hacking cough and about 40 minutes sleep, because I would rather not take off for me in case I need I take time off for the babies. And taking time off for them is only after I have tried all the tricks to get their temps down long enough to get them through the nursery door and then “ooooops I was teaching all day and had to leave my phone off”. It is shit. Really shit. And part time is not the answer. I am part time, but I work every night, I will the youngest to sleep during the day so I can stick the oldest in front of the TV while I work. At the weekend, I chuck them out of the house with daddy so I can sneak in a few hours of work.

    I hate it.

    But then as school holidays approach “you’re off, can you have mine for a day or two while I go to work?” FFS.

  110. I remember a great piece of advice given to me when my children were young: ‘Don’t let other people’s children get the best of you.’

  111. Your blog voices all the feelings I have about being a teaching mum. I only work part time but it’s enough. I may only get paid for 3 days but I do some school work everyday at some point and I never get it all done. I too have sent my child to nursery or grandparents sick because I feel I have to go to work. I have panicked and wished my child to sleep so I can get my planning and marking done. I have put him in front of the TV instead of playing outside or sent him off for father son time at a weekend instead of family time so I can get work done! I’m not sure what the answer is, I just always feel like I’m a bad teacher and a bad mother, never being able to do either 100%. I suppose there is some comfort that we are not alone but something really needs to change and soon!

  112. Due to Values Dissonance , a moral that is family-unfriendly in one culture may be very family-friendly in another, especially morals about social mores or civil rights. This list is for morals that were family-unfriendly even for the culture that they were written in. A prime target for dropping anvils .

  113. I could have wrote this myself. Your struggles are so easy to understand, because I share the same ones. I am a Special Education teacher in the U.S. and I didn’t realize that the U.K. was experiencing the same corporate, government intrusion as we are experiencing. The harder push for standardized testing is killing the whole public school education system. The pressures are handed down from the federal government all the way down to superintendents, principals, and the teachers feel the hardest brunt of it all. It’s so depressing and teachers have never felt more unsupported in our profession. I was one of those people that felt that teaching was a great career to have if you have children, and since having 3 children, I no longer feel that way. I spend 7 hours a day working with the most wonderful, yet most needy children in my whole building. And, by the end of the day, I am spent. Done. But, I can’t be done because at 3pm, the real work begins and I feel like there is nothing left to give at that point. 🙁

  114. I think this goes for any job and being a mother though really – but can see how things are getting worse in teaching and how people think it is family friendly.

  115. My husband and I both teach at secondary school level! He is full time and on average that means 70 hours a week. I have reduced my part time hours from 3 to 2 days but still work double my hours. We have 4 children 3 teens and one at junior school. I empathised with all you wrote plus that of others about missing assemblies and sports days. We both love teaching but not the current education system from either a teaching or parenting perspective.

  116. This is true – I’m struggling to return to the profession after time out – I just don’t see how it could work.

  117. Parenting must come first. I regret with all my heart that I carried on teaching when my kids needed me at home. My children are young adults and finally they are able to tell me how badly it effected them, having a Mother who was too stressed to cope. I My heart bleeds every single day now because I made the mistake of thinking it was best to keep the job. It was a huge mistake. If you have children, leave teaching now.

  118. Hi there, I have been working in a school for 3 years now – transferred in from the private sector. I work on data reporting and assessment and the pay is diabolical. That said I took this job for the experience, with an eye to moving on to something more progressive (with slightly better pay!) within 12 months.

    I too feel for you, because a potential answer would be to hire some if those intelligent mums who want to work without compromising their family life on part – time or job share contracts to handle data assessment, especially with the incoming round of changes on the forthcoming year. I try to relieve the middle management teaching staff of some of this burdensome work and work closely with Heads of Year during reporting periods to flag up concerns early where we can. OK, I don’t have a family but after too many years working stupid hours I now value having a better work – life balance. I can also afford to do so because my husband earns ore and between us we can keep everything ticking over with the occasional luxury (buying food or clothes at full price… woo-hoo).

    One thing I have learned is that it is simply not worth sacrificing the important things in life – for you, time with your young children -for a job that will never love you as they will.

    As with other posters here consider going part-time and reclaim some of your life back. Money is money but your little lovelies are constantly changing. Don’t miss out. Big cyber hugs to you and good luck in your decision making.

  119. Its been a long time since a post has brought me to tears but this has managed it. Being a working mum myself I know the struggles that most working mums have to go through what you are going through is far in excess of the typical working mum. Please don’t think I am be-littling anyone. I work 50 hours a week and I am responsible for a multi million pound target and yet my deadlines are manageable and my child comes first. Theres something wrong here, the system should not be forcing you to choose between your students and your family. We need passionate, motivated and dedicated teachers to help our children reach their potential (just like you) but not at the detriment of their own children. I hate to say it I would be walking away. Nothing, nothing is worth loosing those hours, days, months and years with the people that matter most to you. I had a bit of an ephinany a couple of years ago when I lost my bridesmaid to bowel cancer – she was 35 and a teacher and couldn’t fit in a doctors appointment which probably would have saved her life because it was during term time. Your gravestone will say – mother, wife, daughter, sister, Auntie, friend…. it will not say teacher just like mine won’t say employee of xx corporate. Its such a difficult decision to make. Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClub UK this is my post of the week xx

  120. I feel for you so much. I didn’t return to teaching (secondary) after my second was born – a combination of so many things: including the unsociable hours (marking, planning etc), feeling I was failing on all counts, the paperwork and petty politics, the leaving my little one with someone else whilst I dealt with so much arrogance and unpleasant behaviour at school, and the fact that my pay would have barely covered the childcare costs. Even part time was hard as I was never really a part of the school community and always playing catch up, whilst never quite always being there for the significant moments in my child’s life. I am now a stay at home mum, dabbling in baby groups and just about managing the washing and cleaning (not very well), and how I will return to the profession that I love – and hate – whilst being there for my 3 children I just don’t know. Very good luck….

  121. Dear Someone’s Mom,
    I appreciate your dedication as a teacher. It breaks my heart to read this. I want to encourage you to use your skills and education to figure out a way to make enough money to support your household doing something else (if necessary) while your children are young. They could care less about material things, they JUST want YOU there to comfort them. Your obligation is to YOUR precious babies. You cannot get this time back and no one can replace mom and take care of and love your children as you would. Don’t rob your children of their mom for money. Live smaller, lower expenses, cut off cable, use public transportation…whatever it takes for 5 years so you can be there for your children. It breaks your heart because walking out on your kids as you describe obsviously feels wrong. So just stop doing it.
    P.s…I have make about 1/2 the money (or less) than I would if I left my home to go to work. It took some thought and creativity but I managed because I made a conscious choice… my kids over a nicer lifestyle. While working less may not be a choice for all mom’s, if we are honest…it is for many! If we are REALLY honest, money trumps caring for our children these days and we can all see how that’s impacting our society….
    I wish you well and hope you make a change today! Your kids are worth it.

  122. Try being a lawyer. We may get better paid (and pay large taxes as a result funding schools/hospitals/helping to keep society going so that others can choose to stay home) but the hours can be far longer and the holidays 20 days a year in Australia (if you don’t have to work during them). I saw the hours my mother worked as a dedicated teacher and they were nothing like mine. What’s being described here is par for the course of being a parent and a working mother in 2016. There is only one you and sometimes you need to be in two places. Where’s the surprise in that ?

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  124. You are not alone. Every word you have written rings true for me also. The comfort I try and give myself now is that everything is a cycle. I taught for 15 years as the young, enthusiastic, ‘superhuman’ teacher….totally devoted ( as we all are ). I’m pretty sure that I held teachers who were in the same position as I am now, as subpar in my eyes for most of that time.

    I try reconcile my worries, fear and exhaustion with the cycle that means I am now ‘that teacher’. I may appear subpar to someone else. I know that I am not, but perhaps the days of being superhuman are now best left to those who are able to give total devotion.

    It is terrible that we feel we have to make a choice through work pressure, but it is easier to not care so deeply about work opinions than it is the emotional and physical needs of our children. Please be assured I have not mastered this balance yet….it is just the balance I am desperately trying to maintain as I teeter!

  125. I agree with you 100% + totally, and in every way!!!!

    Fortunately, I was able to take a giant time out and stay home with my three children, as they grew up ~ no regrets AT ALL!!! I often try and encourage young teachers to do the same!!! That time is far too precious and passes far too quickly!!! I then returned to teaching, perfect for the empty nest syndrome ~ Now I am a grandmother of one wonderful grandson, who was just born and is already 17 months! RETIREMENT, here I come! Again, far too precious to miss out on! My husband has been retired for seven years ~ my turn to join him and our grandchildren! FUN!!!!! xoxoxxo

  126. I have spent my entire career within childcare and teaching childcare nvq’s. I always wanted to be a teacher when I had my own children as it would be perfect as I would be off in the holidays.
    Not a chance would I become a teacher. Every friend on my timeline who is a teacher, works every hour God sends and hardly see’s their children. People are saying that being a working mum is the problem here but in other jobs you would receive over time or leave work at work but teachers work every night, get up early to work before breakfast and after a week at work, mark and plan most weekends. Leaving a profession like this leaves you wracked with guilt for your students and colleagues that you’re leaving behind, knowing that your colleagues are mostly in the same position. I think this is a fabulous post.

  127. After kidney stones (the non stop days going by so fast I didn’t drink enough throughout the day) then cancer (stress related) I left the profession. It still upsets me, I miss my tutor group so much, but they leave this year, so hopefully it’ll be easier to accept and move on.

  128. What you describe is the struggle that all working mums face, not just teachers. Nurses, health care assistants, doctors, psychologists, policewoman (to name only a few) that have to deal with sick, dying, distressed, aggressive and challenging people every day and are regularly forced to stay late, or work an extra day to ensure the well-being of the vulnerable people they care for (sometimes to ensure that the people they care for do not die!) Mums that have to work late shifts and night shifts, who regularly miss tucking their children up at night, or have to leave for work early in the morning before their kids are even awake. Mums who have sleepless nights worrying about how on earth they will cover 13 weeks of school holidays on their annual leave allowance of 5 weeks a year. Mums who never have family holidays because they have to take it in turns with their partners to cover school holidays, otherwise they would lose their job.
    There are few jobs these days that are truly 9am-5pm, or indeed fit in with the school day. There are plenty of mums working in retail who have to work weekends and miss precious time with their children. There are many mums working in highly pressurised professions, including in accountancy, town planning and sales who bring work home every night and every weekend and often don’t make it home from work in time for their kids’ bedtime. There are very few good jobs to have when you are a mum. We all start early, work late, bring work home and give too much of ourselves to our jobs, whatever job we have. I think it is important to acknowledge that all working mums face enormous struggles.

  129. No words to express my feelings.
    But something i know, you are a brave woman, a lovely mother and a wonderful teacher

  130. We are expecting our first baby, due in July. I’m an English teacher and my husband and I have both come to the realisation that I’m not going to be able to return to work after maternity leave. My school expects at least one evening duty per week (until 7 or 9pm) and a couple of weekends per term – so it’s just crazy and we’d be paying someone else the majority of my earnings to look after our baby.
    It is so sad that we are in this position – I know I will miss my time in the classroom with my students, but the endless work, pressure, reports, meetings, e-mails (how I hate the e-mails!) and deadlines make it impossible to work around.
    I think the only thing to remember is that teachers – and parents – are often their most severe critics. When you have such high expectations of yourself, there is always a greater chance of feeling like you haven’t achieved them. Try to be kind to yourself 🙂 and thank you for sharing this post!

  131. This is really powerful. I’ve heard it so many times before. I have been contemplating TT over recent years.
    I have 3 young children and a background in teaching abroad.
    I’ve just started a TA course though as I’ve not worked since I’ve had the children. (eldest is 6) and have been helping with EAL children for my placement at their school.
    I’m saddened and shocked at what I see to be honest.
    People, even parents don’t see this from outside the school gates.
    I’ve made my decision to not do TT now. It should be a respected,enjoyable profession. It is not – at all.

  132. I am an Art and Technology teacher at a successful secondary school and I love teaching. It is the most rewarding profession imaginable which returns so much more than I can ever give. Unfortunately, teaching is no longer about teaching; it is driven by political rhetoric and a target obsessed government. What happened to the ‘let teachers teach’ campaign, initiated by the NASUWT? This career has changed out of all proportion in the last thirty years. HMI used to be understanding and supportive but Ofsted seems to have a different agenda.
    I hear so much about how educational standards have fallen on the last 25 years. So why don’t we go back to the methods used then?…… No Ofsted, no target driven motivation. Get back to basics. Let teachers do what only they can do best and give us the tools to do it better.

  133. I am a teacher too and I totally know what you mean. I’m forever torn between being a good teacher and being a good mum, and feel like I’m neither.

  134. I am so glad I had the opportunity to read your thoughts…thank you. I was a teacher, then an editor and left my profession to be a stay at home mum. I have two gorgeous girls and my youngest starts school in September. I have thought numerous times about going back into teaching but end up thinking exactly what you describe in your post and now feel that I can’t or more importantly won’t go back. It makes me sad as I loved teaching but the constant demands and lack of academic freedom today is ridiculous. How could I feel that I am doing a great job at both?

  135. I am not even from the same country. Yet the fears are the same. Extra classes during holiday, late afternoon extras. While my own little girls are crying for me not being able to be there. At this point i thinkmy teaching days are numbered……my girls needs me more

  136. I agree with Mrs. Teacher’s comments. In addition:

    Try being a nurse who does home care. No vacation pay, no sick time, no holiday pay, no personal days, no snow days. Unless you just take the time off and then you don’t have any income. I would say you are blessed with a profession that gives you a lot of time off with pay.

    I just have to comment on your statement that you have sent your child to daycare with a temperature of 104 degrees. That is plain irresponsible. Who does something like this. The child should have been taken to the doctor. Most schools have rules that a child must be fever free for 24 hours before they can come to school. SMH.

  137. Yes. Yes. Yes. 🙁 That is exactly why I left the classroom to provide childcare during these precious years with my own. I get to tutor in the evenings to pacify my teaching urges!

  138. You need to take care of yourself and your family first. There are paid days off. Use them. You sound like a resourceful individual who has lesson plans. Make sure you have them plans ready for when your kids get sick and need you. Rely on the parents to help too. At least where I am at, I grade my daughter’s work. I know her teacher has a little one at home. And if the parents don’t do it; then so be it. Focus solely on what you can accomplish and don’t burn out. You’re human. We need teachers like you. And the schools should have competent subs to step in.

    Running the adrenaline rush lifestyle won’t sustain you. It won’t. I taught. I gave it up; however, let me tell you – other careers aren’t any better. I finally am able to work twenty hours a week to balance my work-family. Grant you – I went into tech so that I can make a teacher’s pay in half time.

    Teachers need to be paid more, but that’s a whole different topic.

    Take care of you. Take care of your family. Then take care of your students. It is the order of the universe.

  139. This isn’t limited to teaching. I have faced many of the same work-life balance issues at work. Dwindling minutes that you feel you need to stay, the ‘do more with less’ in the face of budget cuts and reduced funding, reduced benefits, increased beurocracy. We have always been a pay for performance field. I agree that test results should not be the only metric ( if part of the metric at all), but overall, I don’t see the issue with pay for performance. What else should determine what you are paid? Even with pay for performance, top performers may still on,y get a 2% raise in my field. Sometimes there are no raises at all. I too have sent my child to daycare with a fever and left them crying for me because I feel beholden to work. I have also come to realize that we can’t have it all. We must prioritize. And what that looks like is different for everyone. Success must be defined by ones self and not by society. By the way, I am an engineer by profession. Just because I am not a teacher doesn’t mean that I don’t also give my heart and soul to my job.

  140. May I just observe the issue of leaving your children would be the same in any profession if you are a working mother. I don’t think you can tie that teaching. I also don’t understand why teachers complain about the amount of time they have to put into their job. The increasing demands and time are true for every profession. I think teachers need to realign their expectations of what working full time means. I consistently work 10 to 12 hours a day and that is just the time it takes to get my job done. If you can’t find a balance leave the profession and stay home with your family because you are hurting the children’s education that you are responsible for delivering.

  141. I was so moved by this post. I left teaching in 2008 after the birth of my son, and since then I have received a lot of pressure to return to teaching (and criticism for not returning), but I know that I can’t (nothing against anyone who chooses to return- it was just something I knew I couldn’t do). I’ve never really been able to put into words why it wouldn’t be the right choice for me to go back, but you did. Thank you for sharing this, and for being brave enough to put yourself out there to the judgment and criticism of others. Know that you touched my heart in writing this, and that your words even helped me to understand myself a little better. Hugs to you, from one momma to another.

  142. Thank you for sharing these vulnerable thoughts, as a mother and as a teacher. I am also as teacher, 14 years in, with my own 4 year old son. Every word you stated vibrated through my bones. Many people have made comments about going part time or job-sharing, but in the U.S., healthcare tends to be (but not always!) the best through the school systems/gvt. Therefore while I might have thought about going part-time or resigning my position, it is inevitable that as the family member with health care I must stay in my position. Plus…I love my students!! The job requires all of those extra nights, plus 6-8 more nights a year as a performance arts teacher…and figuring out those daycare/early evening details is a nightmare. Now that writing and reading demands have entered the American arts curriculum, arts teachers are evaluated on those items as well as their external “performances” of the students executing their musical education as well. It’s insane and my poor son has been very gracious in his few short years on earth.

  143. Same here “across the pond” in the US being a full time art teacher and parent is exhausting at times. We give and give, but I try to remain positive and focus on those little moments where students appreciate me, or they can use my room and art as an emotional release, or students say, “hey you’re a good artist you should be a art teacher, hahaha”, and when I pick up my little girl from Nana’s she’s excited to see me.

  144. This was 100% me. I’ve been teaching and I can say I’m FINALLY quitting and I’ve NEVER been more happy about it!!! If you are looking for another option full of teachers who have felt EXACTLY the way you do check out my story. Thanks for sharing!!!
    Love and prayers to you!


  145. I also taught for a year, and left when I had my first born. I thought I would go back, but I didn’t. I just couldn’t bear to leave my baby, and then my kids, as time went by.
    As they started school… I longed to teach them myself. I am a teacher after all.
    Finally, I did bring them home to school.
    It’s not perfect. But, it works for us. And I do really enjoy teaching them.
    I can’t imagine going back to the classroom and trying to juggle it all.
    I respectfully offer to you the option to consider homeschooling your own children, instead of putting your children in childcare, and schooling other people’s children.
    Wow, that sounded very judgmental. It totally wasn’t meant that way. I applaud you for what you do, and I bet you do it better than you think! I just don’t know if you ever considered that as an alternative.
    God bless!

  146. My advice to you is to leave the profession ASAP! You will regret it if you don’t. Your own children need you NOW! On our death beds, no one regrets not putting in more hours in their jobs. Death bed regrets are all about loved ones/relationships. You could go back to teaching later when your own children’s needs aren’t so pressing.

  147. I want to let you know that having two young children 3 and 1 is the hardest ages possible. Right now you have two kids that need constant supervision. You are doing a great job and this stage of life will not last long. If you had a third child. One of your kids would be crying at your feet and you wouldn’t be able to pick the other one up. It is a part of life kids need to learn. Becoming a mom is making you a better teacher!!! It might not seem like that. But, your understanding of the life your students and parents are molding you into a better teacher. This too shall pass and you have made it! Working while pregnant two times. Sleepless nights, fevers, ear infections, ER visits, labeling bottles, and a whole lot more. You are in the home stretch!!!! Mark your calendar. In a year from now, your littlest won’t constantly be trying to choke itself and following around a toddler who wants to climb everything. 😍 I know it doesn’t feel like it right now. But, everything will be ok and I don’t care what anyone says… Teachers who become parents are much better at their job. Thank you for all you do!!!!

  148. I have been a teacher for the past 11 years and I have 4 children, age6-14. SO MANY things you wrote are exactly how I have been feeling. Thank you for your brave honesty. Oftentimes, we feel the pressure to act as if we are superhuman and pretend life is awesome and we are ruling it. In addition to all you said, imagine the pressure once your kids start school and you (and others) start judging how well they do, because, you know, their mom is a teacher. I put in my resignation last month to take effect at the end of the year. I have no other job lined up, so it is a leap of faith. Just yesterday I started doubting myself and that decision, and this morning I found this on my FB page. So thank you. I wish you peace and happiness.

  149. Wow! This describes the exact future I had dreaded before leaving teaching after 11 years to look after my first baby. I knew that I could not do both even working 4 days which was reluctantly offered! I’m so much happier now, I hope you find the strength to pack it in, it’s not easy and why should you when you’re a bloody good teacher? X

  150. Oh, sweet young mother. If you have a husband, continue to take a break from teaching. Take in a few children in your home. Love your own children. Go back to teaching when you are called to do so.

  151. My mother and father were teachers, so was my grandfather, and ten of my aunts and uncles. Six cousins are teachers. And my daughter is in her final year in the university to become an English teacher. Teachers are wonderful parents – curious, patient, (sometimes a bit pedantic, lol), encouraging, implicated – I can’t say enough good things about teachers as parents (and grandparents). Coming from a family of teachers, my heart went out to you. You are obviously a marvelous teacher, and caring, loving mother. There really is no better combination. What you seem to lack is support. My parents had the support system of both their families and friends. Perhaps you can find a support system around you, to take some of the pressure off? I know that when my daughter will start work, she will need enormous support, and I know our family will be there for her.

  152. I’m a teacher and a mom of anew 8 year old boy. I totally agree with you. Many first day of a new school year have come and gone where I’ve had to welcome my new students and missed my own son’s first day. Sometimes holding back the tears is the hardest part.

  153. You (sadly) have nailed what I’ve been struggling with over the past few years as well. There simply is no way to do both, be a mother and teacher, at a level that is “good enough” to live up to my own (and others) expectations. The weight of it feels unbearable at times. You are not alone.

  154. My daughter just turned one, and I can relate with so much of what you said. Where I teach in the U.S., part-time is not an option. It’s all-or-nothing. I feel like I’m failing at parenting, and at teaching. I’m contemplating quitting my job after this year, because it’s all too much, and I don’t want to have to choose anymore. I love my job, but I love my daughter more. It’s really unfortunate that we have to choose.

  155. Ditto my life and dilemma two years ago. I am now a homeschooling mum as I can no longer sacrifice my family for teaching nor put my children through the same system. Best wishes to you

  156. I was a teacher for 7 years before I tapped out. Now, as a mom of a toddler with another on the way, I couldn’t be more confident of my decision. My quality of life as a teacher was terrible. And now, when my daughter gets sick, I can stay home and not feel like my world will fall apart. I can focus on her and my family when I need to because work literally can wait. Best decision I’ve ever made was to quit teaching. And I was good at it and loved it. But it wasn’t worth the cost any more. Good luck!

  157. I’ve been teaching middle school Language Arts for 11 years…8 of which I’ve had children. JUST this year, I had an epiphany. Nothing weird happened to me, but it was as if a calmness came over me. Nothing at school upsets me like it used to. I don’t feel rushed. I don’t get rattled. I grade things ONLY that are critical. I conference more than grade…that interaction is more valuable. Behavior problems don’t shake me anymore, and I feel more confident with parents. I feel at peace…and in balance. I wish you the same! (Maybe it comes with age?? And gray hair?)

  158. This is exactly the reason I left teaching for 11 years after the birth of my second child. I have now been back for 6 years and I’m so glad I stayed at home with our young family. I too have stared open mouthed at people who think teaching fits perfectly with a family and listened to the comments about how many weeks holidays teachers get. Well, I for one have not been knocked over in the rush by those who want to become a teacher.

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  160. I’m baffled. I know I read this and shared it on my social media at the time as I thought it was such an incredible piece and many of my friends are teachers (who commented saying they related). Anyway, can’t see my comment so leaving one here. x

  161. You are not alone. I don’t have children to care for after my usual 8am to 4pm job part time at secondary school in Scotland but I am a tutor after school for four hours each night. I don’t have enough private pupils to go self employed for the moment. I have been doing temporary teaching positions for the last eight years. I am due to give up on the offer of staying on after the summer holidays – I have waited long enough for a permanent job in secondary teaching and I’m sick to death of the adverts that wrongly misinform the public that schools “are crying out for teachers.” There is far too much paper work to do now and not enough contact time with pupils. Councils have cut funding for many extra curricular activities, too. As teachers we should be there for the pupils, but now we are supposed to carry out the job that the PT of departments are being paid extra to already do. I’m not having any more of that, especially since my salary should be close to £30000 a year versus the PT who gets £42000 to £45000. I barely get half of that on temporary posts of teaching whilst schools jump on supply teaching to eliminate holiday pay and take on NQT teachers as it is a cheaper salary to pay out. Education is compromised by government funding and in turn it is the young people in schools who are suffering.

  162. I share your sentiment. A teacher today doesn’t just teach anymore.

    You’re buried in paperwork and administrative duties, and the act of imparting knowledge only constitutes a small portion of the time you actually spend in school.

    For many, teaching has become a ‘job’.

    I wonder if school can ever be fun again…

  163. This is a beautiful but sad post. But you are absolutely right and whilst I’ve never found it to be quite as tough as you describe splitting time from family and school, I have applied for a career break. I now only have half a day to go and then I will have two years to focus on my daughter. I feel very lucky that I’m able to do this and grateful to my loving husband who knows that this is right for our family despite the fact he now may have to work harder and seek promotions to make ends meet. But I’m so happy we have this choice. Good luck with school, enjoy your holidays, rest up, hug those babies and enjoy family time! x

  164. Dear Mum,
    Your post has touched my heart and my soul because I know exactly how you feel. I’m a teacher, and a mum of two, a girl 4.5 yo, and a boy 15 mo. Everything you have written, I could have written it without changing one punctuation mark! I went back to work after my second mat leave, in a part time basis because I already knew that I couldn’t cope with a full-time one. But even though I tried my hardest, I felt like you describe and that I wasn’t able to be either a good mum or a good teacher (and let’s forget being a good wife!). After only a few months I decided I had enough and that my children and husband were worth more than any amount of money. We cut down on a lot of things and I’m looking at a different career path, one that we’ll be truly “family friendly”. Our kids will soon need us differently but for now, presence is the key. Please, please, don’t beat yourself up because you are struggling,m: right now, every single mum/teacher I know is in the same position and I’ve stopped counting the ones who have decided to give up the job. I hope you will be able to find a solution because I can understand the pain you’re going through as I went through it myself. Hang in there, you’re not alone! N.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful and kind comment! I am leaving at the end of the year and not sure what I am going to do/how we are going to survive yet but I am hopeful we can find a way to strike a better balance. Thanks so much again. x

  165. I think most jobs cause conflict if you are a mother. I know I returned to work from maternity leave and no longer have the job I used to have. I spend my days at work not fulfilled – no longer have that sense of self at work, and go home and feel utterly terrible that I’m not fulfilling my job as mother properly either. I don’t know what the answer is. It’s not quitting, but stumbling through, and keeping all the plates spinning, I guess.
    Much love and best wishes to you. I hope you get some time to relax and to play, because in my experience a little time away from the stresses can help me manage them better.

  166. I am both sad and glad to read your comment that you are leaving your profession at the end of the year. Sad that students will lose a clearly caring teacher but glad that you will no longer feel so torn or so guilty.

    The whole family will benefit from this decision. X

  167. This really struck a cord with me I am back at work after becoming a Mum for a first time and I know how hard this is going to be but like you say I am a teacher and know nothing else and I am a mother by my choice. I just hope it will get easier.

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  169. I was feeling exactly like you and therefore handed my notice in and left my teaching post at the end of the July summer holidays. It was the best decision I ever made and I am so thankful that I now get to spend so much time with my 2 year old son. I still do 2 days supply a week as my husband is self employed but can now go home and forget about work. I have a lot less money but yesterday we walked to the shop together and sat on a bench eating a picnic watching the world go by, moments like this with your little one are so precious and everyday I remind myself of how fortunate I am. You’re not alone xx

  170. Hi! Thank you for taking the time to write this amazing post about your struggles in the balancing act as a teacher and a mom. Your post was spot on.

    I am a Speech-Language Pathologist who worked for a school district for 12 years and resigned this summer in order to market for a clinic. I also have 2 children (12 year old girl and a 10 year old boy) and found that I could no longer give as much was asked if me and be able to continue to sacrifice my family life. The vacation time was no longer worth it and neither was the stress.

    My heart ached for you when you said you felt that you couldn’t do anything else. Please know that I believe in you! I know there is a job out there that you will find that will allow you the opportunity to balance both work and family.

    Best of luck to you!

  171. After feeling like this for three years (from the time I adopted my two children as a single mom and things simultaneously became more difficult at work) , I finally found a teaching job where I can be a human and a parent while still excelling at my teaching job: resource. I don’t have to write lesson plans or grade. Even better, I was able to convince my boss that having me for four days a week was better than not having me at all. It is very, very rare to find family-friendly teaching jobs these days, but be on the lookout. They do exist! (Although I do have to say I took a $10,000 pay cut just to work one less day a week. 🤔)

  172. Wow. This is my life. I went into teaching because it’s so “great for moms”. BS. There isn’t one teacher at my school who leaves before 5. Honestly the teachers who love it at my school aren’t mom’s or they are grandmas. I just don’t have enough to give to everyone, and the weight of student success is crushing.

  173. I am on my way to burn out and dearly want to stay in the game! I’m FS leader, SENCo, DSL and teach FS. Am doingthd SENCo award this year and have a pre school age child of my own. Am on a variety of medication (including benzodiazepines) ,that I wish I wasn’t, just to try and stay afloat. But the stress and anxiety is crippling and without it SuperWoman would be a failing mess on the floor.

  174. I changed districts this year and the very first day of school my 20 year old had a fever of 103 and was very sick. I was so torn. Thank goodness I have a best friend who took care of him for the day. Got him to the doc, got him his meds, and looked after him.

  175. Wow ! I’ve just started my PGCE and the workload from placement 1 was just so overwhelming. I can see myself feeling the same way as you in the foreseeable future . I have therefore decided that I love teaching , but not enough to sacrifice my life . So I will finish the course and perhaps try supply . Life is too god damn short , to do a job that strips you of everything .

  176. When my first daughter was born I went back to work as head of a large faculty, I realised very quickly I could not bear to leave my child and was extremely fortunate that my husband at that very moment changed jobs and took a pay rise which allowed me to be a stay at home mum – something I have never regretted. During the next 10 years I did supply teaching and marked exam papers took the odd temporary terms post and even shelf stacked in Sainsburys’s at night to keep the wolf from the door as the pay rise didn’t quite keep up with costs. Finally I returned on contract to a part time teaching job where I have now been for 17 years, to be honest I now work 0.7 but actually work double that (like all teachers) and despite being part time cannot keep up with the marking and preparation of the new specs, the paperwork and admin. My husband now complains how I work all weekend and most evenings. I could never have worked full time in today’s teaching environment and been a mum. You have my every sympathy. If you can find some flexible childcare try doing supply, and examining work – I remember marking papers late at night when the girls were in bed and early the next morning , English lends itself to tutoring my subject didn’t- also think about a temporary job like evening work at a supermarket… just for a while which will enable you to be a mum. The one thing teaching does have going for it is you can go back to it later – as you say you cannot get those precious years back. OK so I’m not a headteacher – the path I was on, and yes my pension is looking positively scary but I have 2 wonderful daughters both extremely successful in their own fields and I can look back on their childhood knowing I was there, I have also clawed my way up the examining ladder during that time which is opening other doors now.

  177. American teachers hear you- we are under the same pressures as we try to work within unrealistic expectations that we can fix all of societies ills with higher test scores. Our families fans our bodiesh take the hits too no matter what our employment sitution is.

  178. I am one of those people who left my profession and chose to go into teaching because it is “family-friendly”. I spent eight years in my first profession and 10 in teaching. I can say with absolute certainty that I made the right choice for my family. There are a maximum of two times per year when I have to stay late for parent interviews. Other than that I leave when the school day is over. When my children are in bed or busy doing other things I finish my marking, planning and report writing. Teaching has given me time with my children that I never would have had in my other profession. We will all have mommy guilt no matter what. It is the fact that you leave your children to care for other people’s children that makes teachers feel an increased mommy guilt. But I know that when I leave my children to provide the best education I can for other people’s kids, I rest assured that other teachers are doing the same for my children. The issue is not being a teacher or the amount of work that teachers have. It is a society that does not value motherhood. It is a society where two income families are a necessity to survive and for others, to accumulate more and more stuff. Where has it all gotten us? Today is the last day of my two week vacation and I spent the best quality time with my kids, while other people had to work. I was home preparing dinners, inviting family over, wrapping presents, tobogganing, shopping and enjoying the heck out of this holiday. I wish that every teacher posting memes of how awful it is to return to work, stop and consider all of the moms who worked Christmas eve and Christmas day and missed out on special moments with their kids. I wish that teachers would quit complaining or get out of this profession. I wish it was mandatory that to go to teacher’s college you have to do a minimum of five years of full time work in a “real” job so that you appreciate the privilege of working as a teacher.

    1. You are very lucky that your experience of teaching allows you this. Mine didn’t. I have another career now and I can say very clearly that my quality of life has drastically improved. I am out of the profession. Please don’t just assume that your experience is the same as mine. For a start we are in totally different education system I assume from your vocabulary. I was a UK teacher and when working full time I spent over 70 hours a week working and had many, many more late evenings than you describe. The job made me mentally ill. I am no someone who doesn’t recognise the value of teaching. I am someone who has been worn down by a system that hasn’t valued me for years. Thanks for commenting.

  179. I absolutely agree and feel exactly the same way. My heart breaks on an almost daily basis when my one year old son begs for my attention and I have so much school work to catch up on. It feels impossible to be a good teacher and a good mom at the same time.

  180. TBH I struggle with the guilty just blogging and being flexible with the kids – there’s just so many demands everywhere – never mind something as committed as teaching. I am glad you were able to leave.

  181. I am a retired nurse from the USA. I must tell you that all of this can be related to by every working mom- even all these years apart, and completely different professions, different countries. It is about the myth of having it all as a women. My generation thought we were changing things. Wrong! We just added all this stress and angst to all women!

  182. You can never understand it till you have been there, it cost my my marriage, my eldest son and my mental health but hey, like the blog says, I am a teacher, I know nothing else. I wonder at what point teachers have the guts to stand together and say enough is enough?

  183. Unfortunately this isn’t limited to teaching, it applies to most jobs these days in this economic climate. Most working mothers experience a lot of what you’ve said.

  184. I feel your pain. I cracked under the weight of it all and left. It’s a struggle financially, but the physical weight off my shoulders was immense. I don’t know if I can ever go back. I’m so glad to have this time with my girls and only wish there was another way around things. I hope your update contains a happier you xxx

  185. Full time work what ever it is and parenting ,in my opinion, don’t mix -I have found that too,and it became stressful so I went part time. I would imagine Teaching is never just 8-3.30 .The hours are whatever you need to put in for marking, parents evenings, training ,extra after school activities and always planning your next day. I cant imagine how you juggled that with looking after your babies

  186. The guilt/juggling isn’t limited to teachers+it isn’t limited to mums either. Dads experience this too. However, how many jobs require work to be brought home? If I’m not up late at night after the kids go to bed, marking, planning, filling in endless assessments then I’m setting the alarm for 5am. Yes, teaching is a vocation +there’s that old joke… when teachers were asked to sum up in 2 words what inspired them to come into the profession? ….JULY and AUGUST but it just doesn’t have the same appeal now I’m a mum. To those who say get your priorities right+go part time, it’s not always as easy as that. Not all heads will allow it. What about single mums? A part timers wage isn’t enough to pay the mortgage! In tears reading your touching post

  187. Please be a teacher in the home schooling community. Parents want tutors to help their children with Maths, English and Science to do their GCSE’s. The parents are responsible for the children education, and paying you. You can concentrate on teaching again and on a smaller ratio with hours to suit your family. Homeschooler’s are also looking for the best for their kids they may have taken their children because they are behind and school is moving to fast for them, bullying, anxiety, illness, lifestyle choice, special needs or religion. Think about it the states loss could be HE’d gain.

  188. I am glad you have found a way to have more balance but it is so sad to have to leave your vocation. Something I am currently struggling with

  189. I could have written this post. It sums up exactly how I feel with a extremely tough class. I’ve just cried all night because I misread something my own children were to have today for school because I’m not truly functioning and doing anything properly anymore. I just don’t know how to make things better other than to leave. It is a slight comfort knowing I’m not alone.

  190. I could have written this post. It sums up exactly how I feel with a extremely tough class. I’ve just cried all night because I misread something my own children were to have today for school because I’m not truly functioning and doing anything properly anymore. I just don’t know how to make things better other than to leave. It is a slight comfort knowing I’m not alone.

  191. I have only just come across this post but it has summed up a lot of my worries about my impending return to work.

    I have decided to go back 3 days a week which will hurt financially but I can’t see how I can do anything else as 5 days a week would certainly remove any chance of me feeling like a human being let alone a mother. I love working with the students and I understand many of the decisions my line managers have to take and I empathise with them as the pressures are so profound at every level.

    I will get back to you in a years’ time to let you know how I’m getting on! Off to read your linked posts about leaving now too!


  192. I found this blog post as I searched coping with teaching and being a mum. Everything you say resonates so deeply with me. I returned to work as a member of SLT after my second child. I was pressured to work full time and am completely failing at being both a mother and a teacher. Outwardly I am successful and at work you would never know that I cry most nights knowing that it is my own children that are suffering so I can perform at the expected level at school. I can’t leave, I am the main breadwinner. My husband who is also in teaching will not leave and we can’t afford him to anyway. I am lost. We have been back two weeks and already my eldest child is anxious and sad that mummy doesn’t do the drop off at school. I missed the first meet the teacher meeting as I wasn’t allowed to leave my school early. I missed the first day of school because I wasn’t allowed to arrive late. My husband and I bicker at the weekend about who needs to work more and life constantly gets in the way. I hate it but I am trapped. Something needs to change in this profession. You cannot be working 65hours a week and hold a family together. Most people have no idea about the reality of teaching.

  193. I have been teaching for 20 years. I had my first child 18 years ago, my second 15 years ago and have a 4 month old daughter, my unexpected third child! I will return to work next week and have returned when each of my children were between 4 and 5 months. That Teachers get a great maternity package is a popular misconception. As the main earner, we simply can’t survive on SMP alone so I have to return to work way before I feel ready. In comparison with the NHS, teachers receive less in terms of paid leave. However, I’m a glass half full kind of person and I like to look at the positives too. The holidays are wonderful and my big kids tell me about how they always remember me being home for all of the holidays. I’ve missed many sports days and concerts over the years but I’ve always been there on Christmas day, many parents work Christmas, my husband does. Summer holidays are amazing and give chance for making many happy memories as well as enjoyment of simple things such as cooking from scratch and having breakfast together. Weekends are also precious and many people have to work them too. The workload is an issue as well as the pressure especially at lesson observation times. It isn’t all wonderful or ideal. Thing is though, bills and mortgages need to be paid and kids are expensive!! I love teaching and enjoy my work for the most part so consider myself fortunate. Best advice I can give anyone in this position is that if there isn’t a choice financially then to make the best of it and prioritise because you can’t do everything perfectly. Also treasure every little moment with your children, all the little things. That said, I will be sobbing leaving my precious baby on Monday.

  194. I completely understand your situation as it was in a very similar situation a few years ago. I choose to give more time to my family and decided to homeschool my children . I wouldn’t have to sacrifice my family for teaching or put them through the same educational system that I didn’t agree with. Wishing you all the best in your journey!

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