So, you’ve had a kid or two or three (or more if you are crazy! 😉) and you are now ready to do some supply or substitute teaching on the side? Supply teaching can be the perfect gig whilst raising children. You get all the joy of teaching without any of the responsibility. You get to walk in at 8:30 am and leave at 3 pm, you can say no to work if your child is sick and not feel guilty, you can take family holidays outside of school terms when it is cheaper and quieter AND you get to spend your evenings and weekends with your own cherubs without having to plan, mark, laminate or think about anything work-related.
I honestly can’t think of a better job to suit my 3 young children at this point in our lives. I know of many teachers who take months off and others that take years off to raise their babies then decide that supply teaching to be the perfect work/life balance to fit in with their family. And I couldn’t agree more!
Running a household with a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and 6 month old feels like a full-time job in itself, but after taking the better half of a year off while I had my baby, it has now come the time to return to the classroom. I usually go back just one day a week when my babies are around 6 months old for a few reasons.
- I like to keep my foot in the door at the schools that I have built up a good reputation with.
- I’m the kind of woman that wants to contribute by making her own money. I’m an independent woman (so I frequently tell my husband) and whether it is just working one day a week to cover coffee dates and clothes for the kids, then I am happy with that.
- To keep up my skills in my profession. For me, It would be a lot more daunting returning to work after several years off with the kids, so a few months is enough for me to enjoy my maternity leave then ease myself back into the workplace.
- To have some interactions with other adults that doesn’t involve talking about nap times, feeding and detailed descriptions of kids’ bodily fluids.
- The final reason is to show my children that I can be both a mother and a professional. Currently, my 3-year-old often tells me “You’re not a teacher, you’re a mum”. And whilst there is nothing wrong with being a mum (as it’s my favourite job I’ve ever had), for me, I want my children to see me working in a career I studied hard for and doing a job that I love.
I’m actually super keen and excited to get back into it, but there are still those niggling nerves and anxiety starting to creep in.
I have taken time off then returned to supply teaching a few times now, so I know this feeling is completely normal and once I get back in there I will be fine, but I still can’t shake those doubting feelings of “Will I get enough work?”, “Will I be able to keep the class engaged and under control?”, “Do I even remember how to teach?!” running around my head.
I try to push these feelings aside and remember if it is bad, I only need to survive a day at a time and if I am prepared for the unexpected, I can take on anything. 💪🏼
So here are my top tips for getting back into the swing of it after kids.
If you are REALLY nervous about getting back into it and have spent a considerable time out of the classroom, I would highly recommend volunteering. Not only will it help rebuild your confidence and get you back in touch with what’s happening in the classroom these days, but it is also a great way to get your foot in the door for future paid work.
2. CHECK QUALIFICATIONS
Contact your state’s governing body to see the requirements needed to teach and what they have to offer if you need to update skills or certifications for your registration.
3. MAKE SOME CALLS
Call around to all the schools you previously taught at, did prac at or have connections with and tell them you are returning. Get in touch with friends, past colleagues and anyone you know that has contacts at a school and ask them to put in a good word for you. It’s often not what you know but who you know.
Drop resumes into schools you have connections with and also widen your network with new schools too. The more schools you have the more chances you have of getting more work.
5. JOIN AGENCIES
Each state has different agencies but find out which ones are more reputable and get your name down ASAP.
When you’ve had time off raising offspring it can be daunting having to organise childcare, before/after school care and coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs while working. Make sure these things are organised early on and the kids are settled into their new care routines before you start working. This will ease the stress for everyone involved.
7. NO WORK
If you are worried about paying for childcare when you don’t get called in to work, make sure you are using that time effectively. Volunteer or resume drop on your days off to help expand your network and get your name out there more. Undergo PD to get your required hours up whilst you have the extra time. If you are always proactive in gaining work or building up your professional knowledge and experience you will feel much less guilty for those working days missed.
Organise your home life to make working days easier. Make lunches and choose clothes the night before to make the mornings run smoother. Prep dinners ahead of time to make the evenings easier. If you can afford it, get a cleaner once a week, fortnight or even monthly to help lighten your load. Take it easy on yourself especially when you first start back. Remember, a messy house and a little take out never killed anyone! 😉
9. PACK YOUR BAG
Make sure you are prepared for the unexpected in the classroom. Have your resources packed and ready to go. (Here is what to pack in your kit). Make sure they cover a variety of ages and subjects as you never know what you will be asked to teach. Don’t rely on the photocopying machine as you may not get access to one. Check out this resource that will save you time from creating one yourself and have you covered for all ages and subjects.
10. GO SHOPPING
We all love a bit of retail therapy and we can’t start teaching without a professional looking wardrobe, right? Plus, those dresses you have with food/drool/puke stains will not cut it. So, to feel ready to start, be sure to get an outfit or two that covers all the bits that need to be covered (arms, boobs, butt etc) and get a comfy pair of shoes. The beauty of supply is that you can re-wear your outfits more often when you are going to different schools all the time and no one will even know! You don’t need to spend a fortune either, but when you look the part, you feel the part, so I give you permission to get shopping!
Create a routine for yourself and your family that fits back in with work life. If you aren’t already up early (do those kids ever sleep in?!) then start preparing yourself for a 6 am call (or earlier!). Practice getting the kids out the door in time to get them to care or school whilst allowing enough time to get to a random school before the bell goes. If you prep for this, then the anxiety that comes with the crazy morning rush will ease.
Have something you love ready as a reward for your return to work. Being a working parent is tough so whether your vice is chocolate, wine or a pair of new shoes, then it is time to indulge a little. It’s a tough thing returning to work whilst still juggling the household plus the added guilt of leaving your kids, so treat yourself, you deserve it! 🤗
These 12 simple steps should help you get your life in order to start back successfully at work with your family alongside you championing you on. I love teaching a couple of days a week whilst raising my young children. For me, it is the perfect life balance where I get to be an adult for a little bit each week whilst still being there for my kids for the rest of the week.
I would love to hear your stories, fears, experiences of going back to supply teaching work after kids.