After taking two consecutive maternity breaks and becoming a mom of two little ones under two years old, I was more than a little intimidated at the thought of returning to teaching. Would I remember how to do it all? Would my students still like me? And, perhaps most importantly, would I be able to function on minimal sleep again (which, let’s face it, is a crucial skill for any working mom)? With some preparation and a positive attitude, I found that it was possible to make the transition back to the classroom a smooth and successful one.
Tips for a Smooth and Successful Transition:
First and foremost, I made sure to update my skills and knowledge. This meant taking a professional development course or workshop to get up to speed on any changes in the education field, like new teaching methods or curriculum standards. And, because I’m a total nerd, it was also a great chance for me to use fancy words like “retrieval practice” and “formative assessment” in a sentence again (without having to Google them first). Bonus points if I could actually remember what they meant after a few interrupted nights of sleep (or at least fake it until I made it). 😆
2. Reaching Out
I also reached out to colleagues and mentors for support and advice. Joining a professional learning community and seeking out my mentor were both great ways for me to get guidance and encouragement as I navigated this transition. Plus, it was a chance to catch up on all the school gossip I missed while on maternity leave (trust me, there’s always plenty of that). And, if I was lucky, I might even find a fellow working mom who could commiserate with me about the challenges of balancing motherhood and a career (or at least offer me some much-needed coffee and chocolate).
3. Setting Goals
Another helpful tip was setting realistic goals for myself. Returning to teaching after a long break can be tough, and it was important to be kind to myself as I adjusted. I found it helpful to set small, achievable goals for myself in the first few weeks and months, and to not be afraid to ask for help if I needed it. It’s okay if I couldn’t do it all at once – my students would still love me even if I didn’t have the most creative display board on the first day back (or the second, or the third…). And, it’s important to remember that it’s not a competition – I’m not trying to outdo my pre-baby self, I’m just trying to survive (and maybe even enjoy) this new phase of life (or at least not completely lose my mind).
Self-care is also crucial for maintaining physical and mental health. As a working mom, finding time for self-care can be tough, but it’s essential. I made sure to set aside time for things like breaks, exercise, and relaxation, and didn’t be afraid to ask for help from my partner, family, or friends, or to outsource tasks like grocery shopping or cleaning (because let’s be real, no one needs to see my attempt at “meal prep” when I’m running on fumes). Every little bit of extra time can make a big difference in helping me feel more rested and rejuvenated (or at least semi-human again). And if all else fails, a good caffeine IV drip should do the trick (I’m not kidding, I’ve seriously considered this).😏
5. Making Mistakes is Normal
It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be after taking a break from your career. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to adjust. And, if all else fails, remember that a little bit of humour can go a long way – whether it’s a silly joke to make you and your coworkers laugh, or a funny meme to brighten your day, laughter can be a great way to relieve stress and stay positive.
Returning to teaching after a maternity break can be intimidating, but with some preparation, support, and self-care, it’s possible to make the transition smoothly and successfully. And remember, you’re not alone – there are plenty of other working moms out there who are in the same boat (or at least pretending to be just as together as you are). 😊