Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy New Year/Life

Here we go! This my first blog post of the year. Also, it's my first blog-post since I gave birth to my daughter in late October. And it's now over 3 years since I began this blog. So it's a bit of a milestone :-) I've been wanting to write a post for ages, but it's been a little hard to find time to do so...

Anyway, I'd just like to start off by saying that it's just as well that I read all those novels before baby was born. Likewise with watching stuff. However, people who were all, "you'll never read again," were wrong; I picked my Kindle up when my little girl reached 9 weeks, and I've read every day (even for just 15 minutes) since. Funnily enough, my life as I knew it is not completely over since having a baby...which is nice.

But my life as I knew it as a teacher is - temporarily anyway - as I'm officially on leave until January 2015. This seems like a long time, but considering I've been on leave for over four months now (and exhausted my crappily short maternity pay entitlement; you suck New Zealand parental-pay scheme), I'm going to hazard a guess and say that this year will probably go very quickly, and before you know it I'll be back in the world of planning, teaching and marking. But I don't want to think about that because it freaks me out...teaching AND looking after a baby! ARGH!!!!!! So instead I'll just focus on the now, and enjoy being the 'Parent As First Teacher' for my daughter.

So yeah, as my daughter's 'first teacher', I've just gotta the hell did new parents ever cope without the internet?!? It must have just been so much more baffling being a new parent pre mid-90s.There's so much no-one tells you about coping with a newborn baby. Don't get me wrong; my antenatal classes were good; I learned stuff. And yes, I do have books, and I read a fair bit beforehand, but a few books, as graphic as they may be, aren't quite as comprehensive as millions of web-pages at the touch of a button. I don't know where I'd be without the ability to search for information quickly in the comfort of my own home. I've joined various groups on Facebook (mostly breastfeeding and sleeping groups), and I google stuff every day - e.g. "how to make baby sleep through the night" (I didn't find an easy fix, unfortunately...).

But the other thing about the internet is it means I'm not completely isolated from other people. One of my worries about being at home with a baby was that I'd be lonely and bored. I do feel a little cooped up at times, but overall I'm definitely not lonely and I'm not bored (yet) either. I have lots of friends and family who are also at home with babies, and I keep in regular contact with them, messaging and emailing regularly to compare notes and offer sympathy, heh.  The internet is also quite entertaining, however, I need to build up a bigger bank of sites that I visit regularly (I used to have a huge list, but for some reason that list has dwindled over the last few years).

And now I just have to compare having a baby to teaching... I always wondered which would be harder, and I've discussed it many times with friends who have kids, and friends who don't. I may have even been guilty of saying on one (or more) occasions, "surely having a baby isn't as hard as this job!" Ah, how naive. So, here's my comparison of the two jobs so far:

Sleep Deprivation

The sleep deprivation of having a newborn is much much worse than the sleep deprivation caused by teaching. Teaching can and does result in sleep dep - the anxiety of anticipating all the things you have to do keeps you up at night, and then there's the not being able to wind down after parent-teacher interviews/Open Evening/anything else that requires you to stay until 9pm situation, and of course the staying up late to get planning/marking/report-writing done. But it's not comparable to the sleep dep of waking up every 2-3 hours to feed a baby (and for those of you who don't know, feeding a baby can take up to an hour in itself). Baby sleep dep is really brain-munting and body-tiring, and it doesn't let up. I've been riding the baby sleep-dep train for 18 weeks now, and it's like a roller-coaster that seemingly never ends (I hate roller-coasters so this simile works for me).


It's for life, and your life is no longer about you. I knew this going into it, which is why I waited so long...but I haven't even seen the Banksy exhibition yet!! Ugh! At least with teaching you do get periodic breaks and you can book yourself a holiday somewhere and then just leave all your schoolwork at home. And if you are super cynical and jaded and over teaching altogether, you can leave the profession (this doesn't seem to always happen though, admittedly...) No such luck with a grumpy baby.


I know many parents find having children very stressful and anxiety-inducing (I have surprised myself in how un-anxious I've been - who would've thought! But then I have a pretty un-stressy life in general, apart from the job). So, in my opinion, the stress of a teacher's workload (which, as we all know, is astronomically huge) is slightly worse than the stress involved in having my baby. I say 'my' because I can't speak for all babies parents here. I don't mean to label babies (just make some comparisons of the situations that their parents face...), but I think I have an 'average-to-good' baby; she feeds well (although feeding has not been without its issues) and she sleeps pretty well (albeit in fairly small chunks still), and she doesn't have any serious health issues; nor is she colicky. I have friends who have had/are having much more challenging baby experiences. But then I also have friends who seem to have cruisy-ier babies than me (oh how it would be lovely to have a baby that sleeps through the night).

So, in summary, I'm going to admit I was wrong and say that parenting is, overall, harder than teaching. But it's also enjoyable and amazing, and totally worth the stress, lack of freedom and sleep deprivation :-)

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