Tag Archives: Balance

Just when you think you’ve cracked it…..


Any my heart sank.

I think any working parent often struggles with guilt of not being able to drop off or pick up the wee folk from school. I remember well going to Christmas concert when the weekday was at nursery and she took real stage fright. She got very upset and came and sat beside me,only for one of the staff to tell me that I had upset her by being there as I usually didn’t drop her off. That was hard to hear but since then she’s always struggled being on a stage -much prefers being in a group but it took me a long time to realise it wasn’t my fault. Being part of her routine at school has been important and I have been determined that I would be.
Incidentally, I refrained from slapping the woman at nursery.

I have been able to drop the wee lady of one or two mornings with breakfast club being a saving grace as well. Last week I managed to jig meetings around to be able to get her 315. I hauled myself up the hill to the school in the rain only to be met by a group of parents who gave me the up and down and once again reduced me to thinking I had my skirt stuck in my knickers.
I had the big coat on that made me look Anna Karenina on a bad day, the flats and the work bag. Smart for work but nowhere near smart enough to join this gaggle of mamas who gathered in their designer waterproofs and wellies. They were talking of how they had been running in the rain, out in the park et al. ( probably grow all their own veggies and have batch cooked for a month) I stood there feeling desperately out of place having been at work.
I suppose somewhere along the line I probably wanted to stay at home until the wee lady was 35……However,I know find myself feeling excluded from that very mum group for turning up in my work clothes. There is a wee groups of the mums who are balancing pick ups round late lunch hours ( yes, lunch at 2.30-3.30) with after school clubs and various other balancing acts……I always fancied being a high wire artist….this is great training.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about mums turning up to school in pyjamas….my wee lady used to really freak out when i dropped her off with work clothes as I didn’t look like the other mums. We had a chat about how is was ok for mums to work and that I couldn’t go to work in my jeans and wellies. We both got over that and now it’s not an issue.
However, I felt like the pyjama mum despite the fact I was in work clothes. Tempted to take clothes to change into before the school gate. Don’t know how the cat woman outfit would go down?
Just when you think you have cracked the dress code.


Hitting the right note..



I was doing a bit of playing over the weekend. Unexpected but very much enjoyed indeed and it took me back to the time when I first started to learn pipe organ. There was nothing like sitting in semi darkness letting rip with a bit of Bach with the big pipes giving it yahoo. That sense of musical freedom and playing just for the sheer joy of it was fabulous.
I don’t get to indulge the darkness with a pipe organ as often now but I do manage to get time on my electric piano ( joys of living in a big old flat) and it tends to be in big lovely bursts rather than the more practical a little and often.
One of my favourite groupings of notes is the Dmajor7 chord. Lovely combination of a bog standard chord with a wee sharp note that just gives it a lovely tone and it can change the dynamic of a whole piece.

It got me thinking about the sharp notes I work with that when you put them in the right combination of other people, give a lovely tone and change a dynamic.
You always need a good mixture of sensible and brave, old school and some someone ready to flash the professional washin.

Hitting the right note professionally I have now realised means I need to be hitting the right notes personally and looking after myself and those around me. I had a lovely conversation with a good friend of mine today who has recently inherited a bigger workload and he told me that he couldn’t do more, but would do things differently and now he has to be good to himself to be at his best for other people. ( he’s very wise)

So tonight after dinner it was a wander out for ice cream with the wee lady, listening to her reading as we curled up under a duvet then we had a bath and she covered me on bubbles.
After she was sleeping it was translation, time tabling and emails and that was ok, as it was my decision and I was happy to do it.
I feel the piano coming on tomorrow night.

I’ll take maximum mammy points and going to suspend shoe points until I can get them back on.

Keep calm and dae wan…



When my precious little lady was born I did things as a mum that I had seen my mum do. Some things I did because I had read about them and some things I did because it just felt right. Particularly when it came to well being of the wee lady. I was feeding her myself and of course she was nowhere near the wee point on the graph she should be and I started to get real heat from my health visitor to move on to the bottle so that the wee lady would gain weight more quickly. That stressed me out even more.
I asked for support and was referred to the most fabulous feeding advisor who took one look at me and one look at the wee lady and asked if I had any concerns about my daughters progress.
Someone asked me……
I didn’t have concerns but I had begun to doubt my ability to make the correct judgement. All I needed was someone to give me that wee bit of confidence and keep me on the right path.
She didn’t dress it up, she didn’t use terminology I had no clue about: she listened to me ( not on a time frame) valued my opinion and helped me to plan how to best manage my stress levels to make sure I was still being the best mum I could be.

We are constantly surrounded at the moment with jargon, must read articles, pressure to constantly be better as teachers, to be better leaders, to be better blah blah….
Do you ever feel like telling people to keep calm and dae wan? Even just for five minutes.
I love being a mum and I try my very best to get it as right as I can. I still ask my mum her advice, I still read things but most of all I do things with my daughter because they just feel right,
I love being a teacher and I try really hard to make it as enjoyable for the young people or teachers that I work with.
I do things because they feel right, because I have observed them and sometimes I read things and want to try it.
This constant rally call of get better quick jargon busters makes me want to poke my eye out with a fork.

I studied the theories about communicative methodology, good teaching,child development etc,- there is the reading bit. I have observed some of the most phenomenal teaching and it’s had a massive effect on my classroom but most of all, I have developed a set of skills for teaching and learning because they feel right and work for me.

I’ve decided that the best I can be is me. I try my best to get it right, to encourage others to do so and create the climate where they can be themselves. Being a manager is a bit like being that brilliant woman who took me in hand and asked ME If I thought there was anything wrong with my daughter as she wasn’t progressing the way the paperwork said she should. The woman who asked me if I needed help and if so how could she tailor it for me? The woman who called up my health visitor and told her to calm down and support me rather than stressing me out.And most of all? She listened.

What a difference she made. Leadership – empowerment – belief.

Mammy points 9/10
Manolo points 7/10
Methodology points on hold

A change ….



A change is as good as a rest….

I’m on day 3 of the new job and I think I quite like it. I have had a similar job before, this time it is bigger,much more responsibility but I actually like it.
I am missing my weans in untold measures but I am not missing life in school at the moment. Probably because I am based in another school and still am surrounded by the buzz of little people.
I am missing my early coffee with the seniors where we listened to music and chatted about our plans for world domination.
I’m finding it hard to break that connection with the department as my new replacement has not started yet and there have been a few hiccups. It would have been really easy to go on and fix it but I had to be disciplined both for myself and also for the staff. It was the longest goodbye and I felt I had had more comebacks than Elvis!
I don’t think I had actually realised how physically and mentally shattered I was. I just assumed that was normal as it had been the norm for quite a while, it was only on talking with other teachers who were at that burnout stage in the holidays I realised I was exactly the same. For a long time my mantra was that it was ok to feel like you had been hit by a bus on a Friday as quite frankly if you didn’t you could not have been doing your job properly.
Just who was I kidding?
I read the most wonderful interview with Katherine Hamnet where she spoke of he she doesn’t talk about work after 6 pm and if people really want to see you then they will get you during the day.
I have decided I am going to go for the 6 pm cut off and if I am working at night it is because I want to, not because I feel the need to.
I admit there are pressure points on the year where the graft needs put on, but to think after nearly 3 years of balancing 2 HUGE remits it’s time to be a bit better to myself and my family and friends. Constantly saying I can’t do things because I am shattered or have work to do is not going to cut it now the summer is upon us!
So the new remit.
It’s great, I have the time to dedicate properly to it with the benefit of knowing what the pressure and expectations are for teachers on the floor .
Bring it on.

Mammy points : I’m going to go with some bonus points
Methodology : suspended due to lack of contact this week
Manolo points : none, can’t get shoes on.muffin feet.

Like a wee movie ….



A beautiful day in the city. We had been down at the coast for few days and dreich didn’t even cover it! We arrived back in the city to glorious sunshine and what a difference that made to people. The wee lady and I were out and about earlier and she was on her roller skates. Earlier in the week I had been in one of our favourite gift shops and the owner said seeing the wee lady skate past was like watching a movie.
She recounted several times that had struck her about the wee lady and I going past the window. From those first walks with her in the pram, to the rainbow fleece sling that she lived in wrapped round me for a few years. To the toddling along to the brave steps, to her pushing her own wee pram. She remembered the coats she had worn and how the wee lady had gone from stabilisers to going her bike on her own.
How lovely that someone had remembered all the wee things about my wee lady that were important to me.
Sorting out the tea and coffee for the soup kitchen tonight has been a bit of a logistical challenge. Typically my weans from school sorted it all and we even have a dad coming to volunteer. These are the weans that I have the privilege of noticing their wee movies. The changes in hair style, the new jackets the removing of the stabilisers.
We’ve been at home with the folks, with the nephews and cousins.
Noise, laughing and nonsense.
No place Like it.

Mammy points 9/10 holidays
Methodology points suspended. Holidays
Manolo points – birkies I so must be spring 9/10

Saying no in all my languages…..



Saying no. We are taught from a young ages to say no. You get into the world of work and you are encouraged to say yes to get on. then you see the quote about good leaders saying no to most things.
I would just like not to have my head explode.
I am good at telling others when to shelve things for their health or relevance and maybe not the best at doing it myself.
However, this week I said no more times at work than I have in a long time.
I shelved a big piece if supplementary work as circumstances beyond my control meant I was not going to be able to make a decent job of it.
It felt great.
I was in two minds about another thing and found myself contemplating a lot of what if situations, mainly to do with the length of time it would take me to travel home to the wee lady.
Some people were not chuffed at me when I couldn’t be there or when I didn’t answer an email as quickly as usual.
Cares not a jot.
The world still turned despite me not being in or attending or answering the 300 emails.
I’m by nature a busy person, but I could get used to maybe coming down a gear.
I’m not saying I am on the couch with the wee lady sleeping on me (and has been for 2 hours), I’m just saying its a possibility.
If this relaxing, then I’ll take it in buckets.

The longest time …..



Well the day finally came for the wee lady to go into hospital for the tonsils and adenoids out.
She’s been bothered by them for years and between the recurrent strep throats, tonsilitis and sleep apnea, she was constantly shattered and coughing.
The pre op assessment was an interesting one with me asking if we really needed to do the op….and when an older nurse announced “it’s a pure sin, listen to her breathing – those need to come out” The decision was made.
We hadnt told the wee lady what was happening until a few days before it and she was ok then would get a real sense of fear. She kept saying “dont let them hurt me”
Eh, they would need to get passed me first.
I had that same dread that I had on her first day at school, when you hand over your littlies to the care of others.
I know the procedure is a standard one,I know that she will get the best care ever and I know she needs this to help her breathe, sleep, and grow.
But she is my wee girl and the very thought of a general anaesthetic was driving me to distraction. Not having slept for some time deprived me of my ability to rationalise what was going to happen but I think most parents are like that when it comes to their wee ones, no?
The day arrived and we had a great morning in hospital: all of the team met with the wee lady and myself, she asked questions and they were great with her.
She was in the playroom for a few hours and was beautifully distracted by craft activities. As were many of the parents which was no bad thing.
I was with her as they gave her the anaesthetic and that is something I don’t want to see again. Ever.
That was the point when I had to trust other people and that is hard when it comes to your baby. ( albeit she is 6)
Total time she was away from me was 40 minutes but it was the longest 40 mins of my life.
The tears flowed and I felt like an eejit. But she didn’t see that and that was the main thing.
When they brought her back she cooried tight into me and we sat wrapped in a blanket as we have done since she was tiny.
It was interesting to see how the other parents were interacting with their children: some parents sat on their phones as their wee ones slept or looked idly about them, some slept over their wee ones, some cuddled in and some children were on their own.
We had gone prepared: books, colouring in, fabric painting, stickers.
Must be the teacher in me. Eh no, it was the mama in me.
The wee lady had a rough night with buzzers going off, observations and meds,but she was wrapped round me like a coala bear. I fully waited on super nanny coming to give me a telling off and believe you me, if anyone had tried last night, it would have been a glittery trainer to the face.
The care and attention she received was first class ( I love the NHS) and I cannot op raise the staff enough.
My best friend is a nurse and we are often to be found discussing work, training and young people. I always have been and still am in awe of the work she does. We were chatting one night and I told her I just could not do her job, when you make decisions about life and death, and how much I admired her. Her response to me was that she might save lives but teachers gave lives to children through education.
We are home, and the wee lady is just grand. Lots of meds, cuddles and ice cream.
So I am off work with her for a few days and I was getting myself ina real state about being off amd thinking how could I get back for that class or how could I squeeze something in.
The I gave myself a mental kicking. I love teaching. It’s a way of life and a privilege to work with young people, and when I am there, I give everything I can.
When I am not, I have to trust other people.
My little lady comes first and I will not be the parent that puts work first.

Mammy points maximum points for not crying
Manolos points, I have been in bare feet for two days – bliss