The joys of half term (or how on earth do you achieve a work life balance?)

Half term is over. A couple of days and I’ll be back at work: refreshed, rejuvenated and raring to go.

The last few days before the break I was struggling. I had zero tolerance for rude teenagers (why is it so difficult to say please and thank you?). Parents were driving me crazy (yes, your son is being challenged enough, or at least he would be if he bothered to bring in a pen and open his book without me nagging him twenty times!). I was losing enthusiasm for my subject (I’m running out of different ways I can host a discussion on whether we have any sympathy for Caliban).

I was struggling so much that when my husband asked me the question: how was your day? I responded immediately with ‘Rubbish!’ and entered into a tirade of reasons why I was exhausted, fed up and needed a holiday. So hell bent was I on explaining the negatives of my work day, I neglected to tell him I’d been given an outstanding in my most recent observation and that my year 9 class had made me a valentines card to apologise for their previous bad behaviour with the message ‘we really do appreciate all your hard work’ – an act so sweet and unexpected it nearly made me cry in front of them (it didn’t though, and I still made them write an essay!). I just couldn’t focus on the positives.

Ultimately, I was just knackered…and missing my boy.

One week later and I am almost unrecognisable. 6 blissful days of quality family time has made all the difference. We haven’t done anything massively exciting – visited my parents, been to soft play, watched the Gruffalo on DVD, a trip to the park (more specifically Alexandra Palace, where I sat in a pub next to Kenneth Branagh – that was pretty exciting!) – but it’s been lovely, and even though it was interrupted by the inevitable boring day of exam marking, it was everything I hoped for when we first decided to have a family. I feel rested and happy.

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The problem is, how do I now give that up for another 6 weeks?

In the last week I feel like I’ve truly witnessed my little man growing up. His speech has come on leaps and bounds and there must be some link with how much more time I have to talk to him. Yesterday, after much procrastination and some quite frankly wimpy behaviour, he faced his fears and pushed himself down the slide for the first time. Before you know it, he won’t need me at all.

I don’t want to be a stay at home mum – despite appearances at times I love my job and want my son to see me as a strong, independent woman with interests of my own. Though I know my husband would never leave me high and dry, I need my own financial security. I need to know it’s there and it’s mine.

But…

How do you leave work at work? How do I reach the stage where I can step through the door and focus 100% on my family? How can I make sure I never miss those tiny milestones? How can I switch off enough to make sure I notice that my son has started talking in his sleep, stifling a giggle as he rolls around at nap time muttering ‘Apple piiiiiiie’ with a look of pure satisfaction on his face.

As an English teacher, I use a lot of rhetorical questions, but this isn’t one of them.

How do you do it?

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2 responses

  1. If you find out, can you let me know. Biggest challenge of my life is changing gears from work to home. Never manage it. Kids always suffer.

    1. If I ever figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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