It’s no secret that being a mom is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. Deciding to return to work on top of that may feel impossible. Many women suffer from guilt as they return to work whether they do so for financial reasons or just because they choose to.
It can be a tough transition to go from being at home with a newborn to returning to work 40 hours a week surrounded by other people’s children, especially if you’re still breastfeeding. Fortunately, there are lots of tips and tricks you can use to help make your life easier while being both a full-time mother and teacher.
Plus, there are plenty of ways you can even advance your career even further if that’s something you want to pursue.
Check Your Benefits
One of the biggest worries you have as a new parent is the health of your little one. Most of the time, it’s just a run-of-the-mill virus or cold, but it’s smart to be prepared if it turns out to be something more. You definitely don’t want the added stress of taking time off work becoming a problem, so check on your organization’s benefits. No matter where you’re teaching, make sure the school complies with Family Medical Leave, also known as FMLA.
For some organizations, there’s a minimum requirement for the number of employees the company employs, but public schools are different. Public schools are one of the entities that are required to comply with FMLA regulations no matter what.
This way if an emergency pops up and you need to be away from your job for an extended period of time caring for your child, your FMLA will have you covered. Dealing with family emergencies is stressful enough without having to add work stress on top of it.
Paying Those Bills
Along with a new baby in the family comes a flurry of new bills from doctor’s check-ups to diapers and formula. Babies are expensive, and the older they get, the more bills they produce. In 2020, the cost of raising a child was $233,610, and that doesn’t even include college. If you happen to be a single full-time parent as well as a teacher, these costs get even more complicated.
If you’re a single parent, it can often mean you are the sole provider for your household. And a teacher’s salary isn’t the cushiest in the country. How do you survive on your salary as a single parent? The most important survival tactic is budgeting. Budget for paying off any student loan debt as early as possible and create a family budget that helps you maximize your spending at the grocery store.
Two-parent households can benefit from budgeting skills as well. In the U.S, the average teacher makes just $44,296 in starting salary, so even a two-income family may struggle — financial independence is hard to achieve in the U.S. It’s no surprise then that so many teachers continue to advance their careers or change them entirely. You can certainly continue to teach, but you don’t have to remain in the classroom. You can tutor online or you can go back to school yourself.
Online classes have normalized the idea of asynchronous learning. Asynchronous learning allows students to complete assignments and study at their own pace.
For new moms whose new schedules might not be set in stone due to a colicky baby or because they might need a nap themselves, the flexibility of learning online is a perfect solution for those wanting to continue their education. You can make your own schedule that works with your job and with your baby’s schedule.
Finding a schedule for both you and your baby will never be a perfect balance. Babies grow and change, and thus, so do their schedules. Trying not to stress about the changes is easier said than done. And if you’re teaching full-time and parenting full-time, where’s the time to go to the gym to blow off some steam?
If you teach 6-12 grades and have a prep period, there are a few things you can do during the day to help you relax, like taking 10 minutes from your prep time to meditate. Do you work with younger students? If they’re at recess and you’re not on duty, take the opportunity to walk briskly around the building if you can.
For new moms who are missing their babies, set up a time of day when you can Facetime or video chat with your child’s caregiver. Technology does many things for us — why not use it to say hi to your baby while you’re at school?
There will be times when the stresses of work and parenthood might get too heavy for simple, everyday stress relievers. New moms are often overwhelmed with guilt for having to return to work. Combine that with a secret desire to actually leave the house for a minute to catch some time on your own and that guilt doubles.
If your feelings of guilt start to overwhelm you, they might be affecting more than just your mental health. Seeking out a counselor who specializes in postpartum issues may be the solution for helping you rebalance your equilibrium.
No matter what, a working mom shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting a little time to herself and she definitely shouldn’t feel guilty for returning to work to provide for her family. Children often mimic what they see growing up and if your children see a hardworking woman who loves them with all that she has, it’s pretty safe to say they’ll appreciate your sacrifices even more as adults.