Guess what folks – we are expecting a beautiful bundle of joy in January 2018! Once I got past the excitement, my thoughts turned to what this means for my teaching.
Let me start by saying this is the most exciting, scary thing that has ever happened to me. A baby! An actual baby of our own! My husband and I are ready and waiting for this little ‘newbie’ to join our world and begin our family.
This article might seem a bit strange – you’re having a baby and you’re writing about your work!? I know. It’s dumb. But it’s a part of our reality that women need to be concerned with their careers and how having a family can impact on them.
I’ve always wanted a family of my own, and perhaps that’s part of what drew me to teaching. All I truly wanted to be while I was growing up was a mum, everything else came second. Once I grew into adulthood and discovered I had other ambitions, it was a bit strange to admit to myself that I was happy putting off children while I worked towards those. But now that some of those dreams have been achieved, I am excited to be back on the mum bandwagon.
No, I won’t stop working permanently. Two reasons for this. The first is that we want to own our own home one day, and my husband doesn’t make the kind of money that would let me be a stay-at-home-mum and achieve this dream. The second is that I like working. Ever since I was old enough to work, I’ve worked. I get bored easily, and working fulfils me in a way I don’t know if children alone can. Obviously this is coming from someone yet to actually have children, but I am going to assume that feeling won’t change too much.
So in light of the fact that I want to keep working after maternity leave, a few concerns have come to mind.
When to tell the school?
This was a very tricky one for me. I had no idea when to tell my school!
The biggest part of the problem is that I am on contract, and not a permanent teacher. If I were permanent I would tell them at the standard 12-week mark, mostly because that’s when I’d be making it common knowledge. But because I am on contract, the only way for me to get maternity leave is to have a contract to take leave from. As my due date is January, I would be taking leave from the first day of term one, which means I’d need a contract for next year.
My school is notorious for not telling you if you have a contract until the last possible moment, and I don’t want to end up in a sticky situation of possible discrimination where the school says they don’t have a contract for me for next year, but are instead hiring another science/math teacher on contract.
I have talked with the union about my options, and am following their advice, so fingers crossed it works out well for me.
I told them at 15 weeks – the union had their plan worked out for the worst case scenario, and I was beginning to show. Thankfully everyone was very happy and supportive, but no word yet on what will happen with next year.
When to tell colleagues?
Some of my colleagues are good personal friends, and I’d be happy for them to know as soon as possible. Other colleagues are not as close, but again I’d still be happy for them to know. The rest of the school I’d rather didn’t find out until I had talked to the leadership team, because this is exactly the sort of information that spreads very quickly, even when you specifically ask people not to talk about it. It really does need to be me who tells the school, and not them hearing it from someone else.
I told a couple of close work friends at the 6-7 week point, I think it was, mostly because I couldn’t keep it a secret longer. I’m just so excited! Those that I’m friends with on Facebook found out at the 15-week point when my husband and I made it public, and I’m sure they talked about it at school the next day. The rest of the school will likely find out over the next week or so, as I have now told the leadership team. I didn’t do it earlier because I wanted the leadership team to find out directly from me, not for them to find out because someone read this blog post!
How long to take off?
I would absolutely love to take a full 12 months off. This is our first child, and I would love to be there for that time.
I originally thought I will probably be looking to return to work after 6 months. Cost of living is a bit too high for us to live comfortable and save for a house off my husband’s income. After some further investigation, and the confidence of the union, I think now if I can access the workplace one at half pay, and access the government one, I might be able to stretch it to 12 months. Fingers crossed for that!
I don’t think I would want to take more than 12 months off. As I said earlier, I enjoy working, and knowing that I am going back will hopefully hold my brain in a good place for that eventuality.
What about this blog?
This is a blog about teaching, so how can I write for it if I’m not actively teaching at the time? I still a bit stumped about this one. I don’t want this to fall to ruin just because I’m not teaching, and I’m still not getting enough interest from other writers to fill the blank periods.
I’m going to try my best to write a years worth of posts before the end of this year, but likely they will be published fortnightly instead of weekly. Because let’s be honest, I don’t know if I can come up with another 52 posts on top of what I will write for the remainder of this year. I’m sure I’ll write ones about my maternity leave, but I still want to keep them teaching focused, as that is the point of this blog after all.
Overall the next few months are going to be exciting and a little stressful until I get word either way from my school about next year. We’re getting all the things organised at home to welcome this new member of our family, and I couldn’t be happier!
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.