I love to catch up with a friend over a cuppa and today’s coffee chat is with another amazing mom living in Leamington Spa, UK. I hear your question, ‘how do you catch up with someone, on the other side of the world, over coffee?’ Well, by simply catching up ‘over coffee’ . It’s amazing what we can do with technology these days but I digress. So, I had a chat with Milly, an amazing mum of two, and among other things, she talks about finding the courage to make the huge and difficult decision to change her career in a time when others would consider her to be almost at the peak of her career. I found it inspiring that she felt the need for a change in her life and she fought for it and succeeded.
Occupation: School Teacher
Location: Leamington Spa, UK
A bit more: I am 35, married and a mother of two. I love reading, running, travelling and catching up with my family and friends. I am totally dedicated to my family.
1. Pregnancy – What where the pros & cons for you?
Pros for me were excitement, expectation, joy unspeakable…Cons were:
a. Heartburn: remedy was ginger tea 30 mins before I eat and not eating after 4pm.
b. Morning sickness
c. Painful Leg Cramps around 7 months every night in my second pregnancy: remedy walking through it; eating bananas (midwife’s advice) to replenish potassium because this was caused by mineral depletion with the pregnancy
2. ell me about a difficult decision you have had to make and how you worked your way through it?
One difficult decision for me was making a career change from a postdoctoral researcher to school teaching. It all started to take shape when I returned to work after my first child and I didn’t feel that job satisfaction any longer, in addition, I was no longer getting excited going to work every morning. I had always had teaching in the back of my mind as something I would love to try. So one day I decided to get some information on how to change into a teaching career, and after some detailed research I settled on a plan on how to ease into this new career. It was a very challenging time as I had to do teacher training alongside my full-time job and this involved doing assignments by 4am on workdays and on weekends. I also used my annual holidays to do placements in schools so I didn’t actually have a decent break during that period. However, I was very determined to make the change because I was convinced that teaching was my life’s calling, so I kept looking at the light at the end of the tunnel as well as the positive impact this new career would have on my family, such as more time for the kids, spending school holidays together, and a happier me. These kept me going through those hard times. Now I am settling into my new career and I am very glad that I made the change. All that hard work has paid off and I am ecstatic doing what I love and being there for my family. I feel very fulfilled with my job, I love preparing schoolwork for my students and seeing the transformation in them daily, and I am excited going to work every day.
3. ke us through your typical workday and weekend.
No two days are the same for me. I work Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Therefore, I have a work weekday, a stay-at-home weekday and a weekend day. My schedule on work weekdays looks like this:
6am: Wake up
6am – 8am: devotional time, getting the family ready for the day and packing all the bags needed by myself and both kids.
8am – 8.30am: School & daycare drop off, then commute to work
8:30am – 4:00pm: Work
4pm – 5pm: School & Daycare pickup and taking kids to various extracurricular activities.
5pm – 6pm: get home
6pm – 7:30pm: fix dinner, bath kids, spend some time playing with them, read and pray with them
7:30 – 8pm: Kids bedtime -My toddler goes to bed first and so I get an extra half an hour to spend 1:1 time with my 7 year old.
On a stay-at-home week day, I get up at 6am and leave home at 8.45am for the school run. The extra 45 minutes I have at home on these days are used to do bits and bobs around the house (e.g. taking out the bins etc). After the school run around 9:30am, I spend about 30 minutes doing some cleaning, washing, folding and ironing, while my toddler plays around me. The rest of the morning is spent with my toddler either at a playgroup, aqua babies or just home playing, singing and reading together. After lunch, toddler sleeps while I either do some work, some exercise, house chores or put my feet up with a book and a cup of tea. After the school run, I spend my afternoon playing with both kids and also assisting with home work as and when required. Dinner is always made around 5pm for 6pm. Bedtime routine is the same as other days.
On a weekend, I stay in bed till 7am! Pure luxury! The morning is either spent on children’s extracurricular activities or church. After lunch, apart from a bit of cleaning, and a run, it’s family time of just lounging around together doing nothing in particular apart from being together doing whatever we feel like. It is family time and we play board games, oh and both kids get their hair attended to.
4. How do you fit housework into your schedule & do you get the kids involved?
I do bits on my days off work and the big clean is on the Saturday. My husband and I share the big clean between us so it really lessens the burden. He usually does the bulk of it while I am out with the kids for extracurricular activities and I finish off the rest at some point in the afternoon (it usually takes me about 30 minutes so not too much time out of the precious family time).
My 7 year old has specific responsibilities like helping to wash cars in the summer months, weeding and dusting while we clean on a Saturday.
5. What do you find hardest and most rewarding about being a mum?
The hardest thing for me is having to throw myself into new things and become an ‘expert’ at different things. Amongst many things, I have had to learn phonics to assist my first child at 4 learning to read and write. The most rewarding thing about being a mum for me is seeing my children flourishing and knowing I was a part of that.
6. What are your thoughts on choosing Childcare?
We always chose nursery over child minder or nanny. We always visit the nursery and observe carefully. I believe every parent gets that gut feeling and knows when they have found the right place for their child, and of course that is different for each child! We are grateful to say we have always been happy with our choices of nurseries.
7. ow do you go about meal planning & what are your top breakfast and dinner recipes for busy days?
I cook on my days off and on weekends. My easiest fallback recipe has got to be spaghetti Bolognese or any other pasta dish. My quick dinner favourites are:
a. Frozen soup or leftovers from the day before (I always cook fresh home-made food on my stay-at-home week day)
b. Sandwich toasties – ham and melted cheese ones are a family favourites
c. Warburton sandwich squares for ham or chicken sandwiches. I always serve toasties and sandwiches with a generous helping of plain salad or spinach leaves and tomatoes.
d. A quick stir fry with vegetable and noodles (I use pre-packed vegetables and everything takes 5 minutes to cook)
e. A couscous meal, which also takes me 5 minutes to make.
For breakfast recipes, I always go for cereals which are healthy, nutritious and will keep them full for longer. My kids love Weetabix and Readybrek, both of which take seconds to make and are low on sugar and salt!
8. What ways do you balance work, family & finding time for yourself?
a. At this stage of my life with little kids, I understand that I can’t stay back at work like some others can because I need to pick up the kids from school and daycare, so I schedule some work for when the kids have gone to sleep.
b. I try to fit in some exercise on my stay-at-home days by using the stroller to take the kids to daycare and school, this way I fit in a 4km walk into my day.
c. I listen to my favorite classical music when I drive, this puts me in a nice relaxed mood an
d makes me feel like I have done something for ‘me’.
d. Sometimes my husband takes over (on weekends) so that I can get some much needed sleep
e. I try to fit in some time to read a book with a cup of tea when my toddler sleeps during my stay-at-home days; but I still find that many days it is a struggle to fit in some ‘me’ time. I understand that this will get easier as the kids grow up so I’m not too worried.
9. How did you cope with returning to work after maternity leave?
After having my first child, I returned to work fulltime. I learnt that it is quite handy to have a contingency plan in place so that your partner can take some time off in your first couple of weeks back at work as kids can get sick within days of starting a new daycare. Knowing that your partner can stay home with the sick kids helps you focus on getting back to your career without feeling anxious about asking for time off just after you have returned from maternity leave.
After my second child, I found that it was more beneficial for me and my family if I returned to work part-time. My advice to any mom would be to assess your situation putting childcare fees, full-time and part-time work tax into consideration in order to establish if you will better off returning to work on a part-time or full-time basis.
10. If you could change one thing in your life right now, what would it be?
I would love to have more time for devotion, reading and exercising. However, I understand I am in a special season with my little people. The day will come when I will have all the time in the world to do those things so I am content and very happy just enjoying my kids for now because their childhood is so fleeting and I do not want to miss any bit of it.
Wow, it was amazing talking with you, Milly, you are inspiring!