I always wanted to be a teacher as a kid. With visions of a big family and a work life balance better than my corporate parents, I felt like teaching was the perfect career for having it all. Being a teacher mom would mean a job I loved that gave me a similar schedule to my own kids. A job that was stable (as a child in a union state) and that I was passionate about. What I quickly realized after my early years in the teaching profession, was the teacher lifestyle was far from what I imagined as a kid. I knew if I wanted to have the family dynamic that I envisioned, teaching was not the right career for me.
Many of my former teaching colleagues are incredible teachers and incredible parents. My struggle as a teacher mom and my decisions are not for everyone. For me personally, I knew I could not be the teacher I was if I was going to be the wife and mom I wanted to be. I decided to leave teaching for the corporate world. It was the best decision for me as an individual and for my family. I am still a working mom. But I am a working mom working on balancing both a career and a family without the struggle of being a teacher mom. Here are all the things I considered when leaving teaching to be a different working mom.
No Time For Personal Needs
Teachers are often tied to their students for every minute of the day. As a teacher, I was on morning bell duty, teaching all day, lunch duty, and bus duty. Finding coverage to go to the bathroom was difficult. I rarely ate my lunch either because I was dealing with student behavior or grossed out eating next to elementary students. I struggled to drink enough water daily, find subs for medical appointments, and never had break time during the day.
Pumping for a baby is nearly impossible between finding a designated private space and finding coverage to be able to produce enough milk. While this may seem like one of the tradeoffs to being a teacher, being a mom is a 24/7 job. It can be very draining to be needed all day at work and then needed at home constantly. There was no time for tending to personal needs, and I felt sheer exhaustion every evening. In a corporate setting, I am able to meet more of my daily needs, so that I am better able to meet my family needs at home.
The Working Day Never Ended
It is not a secret that teachers take their work home with them. But it’s more than that. Teachers take their work home with them because they are pouring their hearts into their students. I was constantly spending my nights calling and emailing parents. I spent countless nights cutting and laminating, or coming up with new interventions for struggling students. On top of the required work of a teacher, I was invested in my students lives. Being an invested teacher often means working many weekly hours beyond the school day. While I sometimes have late nights or early morning meetings, I can often leave my work for the next day and devote my home time to my kids. I am not committed to any other kids during the day except for my own, and they get the best of me now instead of what is left.
Lack Of Flexibility
While teachers get more time off during summer months in most cases, there is a lot less flexibility when it comes to balancing work and home. Taking time off is difficult unless you have the day off already. I was forced to try to schedule all my appointments during days off from school with every other parents. We tried to squeeze vacations into spring break. I missed anything that happened during the school day because it was impossible to find coverage or use PTO.
Now I may have a year round schedule, but I make my schedule work for my life instead of the other way around. I use my allotted time off when I want to without worrying about sub plans. I can use my lunch hour to have real lunch with a colleague or visit my kid’s preschool for an event. When needed, I come in early or leave late based on the competing demands of life. Flexibility at work is a privilege, and one that is not often granted in the teaching field.
I was an incredible teacher. I don’t say that to brag, but to highlight the true responsibility of what it means to make an impact in a child’s life. A teacher is a core influence and sometimes life changing. We invest in their education but beyond that we invest in their success as individuals. I stayed up late thinking of ways to connect with a distant student, ways to reach the parents of kids who lacked support at home, and ways to provide more resources or community involvement to kids that needed them.
My students were like my kids at the time. But being a teacher mom meant giving my best to my students while giving less to my family and to myself. I loved being the teacher that I was for my students when that was my whole world. As my world got bigger with the start of my family, I knew it was no longer the best career for me.
I did not get burned out from teaching. I was not one of the many teachers that leave the profession everyday because of a broken system. Quitting teaching was a decision I made after lots of consideration and not something I take lightly. I left teaching for the corporate world before I reached a breaking point. Being a working mom means making sacrifices for your kids, and mine was my career field. If you are a teacher mom and feel some of these struggles, you do not need to justify your decisions to anyone. At the end of the day, you must choose yourself. You deserve it.
All the best,