braindribbles

Monday Reflection: Returning from time out

Posted on: 23/05/2011

Today’s journal will be unstructured; much as the models of reflection give you something to work with as a start, once you know what you need to get out of reflective practice, you can do nearly as much with an unstructured journal, and it often flows more easily that way.  I’m going to talk about returning from time out, since it has brought with it a new set of challenges.  Be warned, though, reflective writing tends to be long!

https://i1.wp.com/www.donphin.com/images/timeout.jpg

Thanks to donphin.com for the image

I originally went on time out for two reasons.  Firstly, smallest one was getting to be a distraction.  Cute, yes, vocal, very, and not exactly ideal for bringing along to tutorials.  Since she was still being breastfed I didn’t feel happy arranging childcare.  Secondly, loved one had recently lost his job.  It was time to focus on the family for a while.

I had ambitious plans through my time out, though, mainly because I wanted to be done by Christmas 2011.  If I made it to February 2012 before finishing, I would have been going for five years on the same course, and it’s fairly frowned upon, if not outright forbidden, to take more than five years to finish.  Of course, being on time out meant I could add eight months to my finishing time, but that wasn’t the point.  I wanted to get on with my life and actually be a fully fledged antenatal teacher.  So I made plans to do as much of my written work as possible during my eight months out of circulation.

Being me, of course, that meant that two thirds of that work was done less than two weeks before my first tutorial.  But, now, it’s done.

I am now trying to fit regular study time in around a cute but demanding baby who needs my attention the whole time, and screams non-stop if she doesn’t get it, and it is challenging to say the least.  Not to mention the plan to get up early and study being scuppered by her waking up just as early.    I do have Friday mornings to myself, but as often as not I tend to use that as ‘me’ time, such as hair cuts.  With this screaming phase smallest one is going through, I just need to have some quiet time once in a while.

So there is still the issue of when exactly to get my study time in.  Most of her nap time is taken up with the mountains of ironing that piled up while I finished my last two pieces of work.  As I type I am surrounded by heaps of laundry that all needs ironing, and there’s more hanging on the line outside waiting to be done too.

Making time to study, it seems, is always a compromise.  I can frankly say that being a stay at home mum to three children is a full-time job in itself, and even when I’m not studying it seems I’m taking regular shortcuts to save my sanity.  (I really don’t know how working mums find the energy, and take my hat off to them.)  So when I do study, the family life suffers.

Also, my preferred method of working is to just knuckle down for a few days to do nothing but read, write, think, breathe, dream the topic I am working on, but this of course just isn’t possible if I’m looking after small people.  As a result, when I have a study deadline, everything suffers; I take short cuts with my work to get it over and done with as fast as possible, nobody gets fed properly, nobody gets to bed on time, and I don’t want to hear anyone’s problems till it’s all over.  Not exactly a shining example of parenting.  Or studying, for that matter.

Is there a solution?  Well, I can think of one or two, but they tend to involve the goodwill of others.  Loved one is under a lot of pressure at work, so I don’t particularly want to add to it by dumping the children on him while I go to the library on the weekend (though it might help me get a little respite, since screaming babies are not allowed in the university library).  I could request help from the grandparents, but they are in their seventies and I feel bad dumping three children on them for a weekend.  It’s a bit too big an ask, really.  Also, until we move house it would be cheaper to pay for childcare with fuel costs the way they are.  Which leads me to option three – paying for extra childcare -but right now we’re trying to tighten the purse strings in the anticipation of the house move, so it’s not really likely to help.

A solution is starting to form in my head, though, now that I’ve stewed on this a while.  If I were to ‘book’ one weekend a month with loved one where I hibernate in the library for forty-eight hours and am around the other three weekends of the month, that might not be so terrible.  It’s also a fairly realistic anticipation of how things will be once I qualify and teach regularly, so it would be good for him to get used to it now.  More than one weekend a month would be too much, but I feel this is a reasonable request.  He is their father, after all.

I think I’ll give it a try.  Now all I have to do is catch loved one at a good time and tell him of my plan…

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9 Responses to "Monday Reflection: Returning from time out"

Tricky problem – I hope you find a good solution. Nobody ever realises how much time looking after kids takes until they try it. (Even now, I still find myself wondering where a day went sometimes and the twins are nine now, so hardly require much supervision!)

Thanks Dom – it’s good to know I’m not alone!

Hmmmm! Have you thought of paying someone to do the ironing (usually approx.£10 an hour), and using the time you would be ironing to put towards study time. Paying someone to do ironing/cleaning is usually cheaper than childcare. Then, it’s reasonable to say that Daddy is in charge for a couple of hours in the evening, say 7 -9, two or three evenings a week. Is that any help?

Ginny, I’m impressed and amazed. Do you have more than an hours worth of ironing? My husband irons his own dress shirts and pants. My mother was horrified when she found out. I told her that he was ironing long before he met me and I saw no reason to change that. I agree about the cleaning though. I used to love having someone come in and mop floors and scrub toilets. Def consider that Sacha!

Mary, I’m so impressed that your husband does his own ironing. I had to ban mine from going anywhere near the ironing board – let’s just say his talents lie elsewhere…

Ginny, that’s a great thought, and I have had a cleaner come round once a week for the last few months since we’ve had the house on the market, but it’s eating into a budget we just don’t have. Ironing is another story; we used to get it ‘outsourced’ but then I became allergic to the starch they used and couldn’t face the possibility of that happening again… Fret not, though, I think there are some solutions in the offing, and thanks for the suggestions.

My mountains of ironing vanished as it happens, into one small box that remains, since smallest one had a veeery long nap this morning. There is hope!

Well, it mounts up! There’s my daughter school uniform (I find the skirts/pinafores have to be ironed once every three washes to keep the pleats in), husband’s shirts, my trousers, napkins, and assorted bits and pieces that have got too crumpled in the tumble-drier. We have a tiny house and mornings are stressful enough without having my husband ironing that day’s clothes while small children are running around! And, yes, that’s what he did before we got together.
I find that there’s some things I can do with a toddler attached, but actually, it makes more sense to pay someone else to do it better and in half the time!

That’s the trick, isn’t it? Finding a moment to iron when there are no small children hurtling around…

I don’t mind looking after Alice for you if you’ll have Rowan in return occasionally – we could do once a week for a few weeks and have at least a few hours each fortnight booked in! Would be easier during school hours so say 10-3. Let me know if you’re interested.

Oooh, very interested indeed. I’ll email you!

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