Teachers with infants struggle with time

October 16, 2009 — by Karen Yang

For assistant principal Brian Safine, being a parent and an administrator at the same time is very different from his life before he became a dad. As an administrator, he often spends nights away from his 1-year-old son Eli to chaperon at dances, oversee football games and attend guidance parent nights.

“Having a child involves so many constraints of time,” said Safine. “It’s a double whammy because I’m busy with school, I’m spending time with [Eli], and I’m also losing sleep.”

When Eli was born in October last year, Safine faced many challenges with balancing his time between his newborn son and school. With obligations of hosting the PSAT, writing college recommendation letters and filling out teacher and counselor evaluations, Safine recalled October to be a “busy, busy time.”

“After the first two months, I was grateful I survived,” said Safine. “[I couldn’t help] but breathe a sigh of relief at the end.”

Science teacher Kristen Thomson echoed the same sentiment. After giving birth to her son, Spencer, who will turn 2 in December, she struggled to accomplish work at home, even when her son was sleeping.

“My prep time, my lunch time, the time after school when my kid is at day care—those are really the only times I have to prep,” said Thomson, “so I have to be much more efficient at doing work at school.”

Since she is teaching a new course to the school, AP Environmental Science, Thomson also struggles to find time to develop and modify the curriculum of the class. With the additional responsibility of a child, she cannot devote extra time to focus on the curriculum for that class.

“It’s a lot harder doing a new prep and not being able to give it your full attention during the entire weekend,” she said.

Thomson acknowledges the difficulty of balancing family and work. Although she enjoys spending time with her son, she often finds that he distracts her from her work.

“I want to spend time with him, but if I have to use the computer, Spencer’s like ‘Cool! It’s a toy! Let’s go Skype my grandparents or someone!’” said Thomson. “Being a parent is like another full-time job, and it really is tough to manage two full-time jobs at once.”

One of Thomson’s primary concerns with parenting while teaching is the need to miss school days when her son is sick.

“I almost feel bad saying my son has to come first,” said Thomson, “but for the first couple years you have to prioritize if you have a baby at home. Your kid has to be your number one concern even when you have a whole class of kids that you care about as well.”

Despite the challenges of working while raising a child, Thomson finds the experience to be priceless. She describes her second “job” as even though she doesn’t “get paid for it with money, [she] gets paid for it by many other really great ways.”

With their being parents and staff members, both Thomson and Safine are extremely appreciative of the support of the administration, their spouses, and their students.

“I would not swap being a parent for the world; it is the greatest experience ever,” said Thomson. “I think I’m very lucky to be in this situation where I can have a family and still be supported in the job I am in.”

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