Being a Mom and a Teacher, Much More Work Than Anyone Could Ever Imagine

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This article is presented by VIPKid – the leading online learning platform enabling North American teachers to teach English lessons to kids in China – all from the comfort of their homes! Find out more at

It’s 7a.m. on Monday morning. I close my laptop and let out a sigh of relief as I am done teaching for the day. I quietly grab my half-empty coffee cup and make my way into the hallway, where I slowly creep on tiptoes past my 4-month-old son’s room, as new parents do. I greet my husband and 5-year-old son to hug them before they leave for work and school, and head to the kitchen for a refill of freshly brewed hot coffee.

My Monday mornings weren’t always this way.

You see, I was a traditional teacher for years—and I loved it. I love teaching and I love being a mom. They’re probably the two most demanding, challenging, and rewarding jobs in the world, all at the same time. Trying to juggle both together is an impossible task that teacher-moms are faced with every day. You do everything you can to be the best for your students and everything you can to be the best for your family. But one side always ends up taking from the other. You want to be there for your own children, but you need to support your family. You want to give both jobs your all, but if you don’t master the perfect balance and remember to also take care of yourself, you burn out, mentally and physically.

Before becoming a parent, I was the teacher that constantly poured into my teaching life. I spent endless hours crafting plans, grading papers and decorating my classroom. I gave up my lunch breaks and planning periods to give extra help to students who needed it, and I lost sleep over whether my lesson was good enough each day. There was no guilt or worry of being too exhausted. I just gave everything I had, I gave my time, I gave my heart, and sometimes my sanity. I would just give and give, and I was happy to because it’s who I am and the only way I knew to be.

Then I had a baby. It changed everything. I thought I could do it all effortlessly because I had seen other teachers make it look so easy; I’d seen them give powerful lessons with a growing belly, write lesson plans for their long-term substitute, and return two months later with ease and an electric breast pump they used during their planning period. I never gave much thought as to how they made it happen; I just guessed it would come naturally.

My experience felt much different from what I had seen. Mine looked like appointing a trustworthy student to alert a teacher when I had to quickly run to the bathroom during morning (all day) sickness. It looked like crying after drop-offs on my way to work. It looked like forgetting the breast pump tube at home because I was sleep-deprived.

I constantly found myself searching for pockets of rest during the day so that I wasn’t depleted by 4p.m. when my “second shift” began at home. I felt constant guilt at home when I gave too much to my students; I felt guilty at school when I couldn’t match my pre-kid energy level for my students. At times, I managed juggling my responsibilities fairly well; other times, I felt as if I was drowning from exhaustion and guilt and a feeling of never being “enough”. I still loved teaching, but that love was buried beneath physical discomfort and a fear of the demanding job load. I was at a crossroads.

That’s when I heard about VIPKid, a company that provides English lessons to kids in China using an online classroom. A fellow teacher shared that she taught two classes online in the morning before arriving at school; it was her “side job”. She teaches in the classroom and supplements her income with teaching online because it lets teachers work around their life. I was instantly intrigued.

I stayed up late that night researching all about VIPKid and their online learning platform. It allows students to learn authentically from North American teachers and, most importantly for me, I could work remotely and still be able to continue doing what I love – being a teacher. After hours of researching, the most convincing thing I read was this eBook with stories and experiences from other teachers just like me. My dream was to create a schedule that allowed me to teach, make an income, AND stay home with the arrival of my second baby quickly approaching. Now, that was possible. I get the rare opportunity to work from home when I want to, as much as I want, and still pour into my children most of the day.

Staying home isn’t right for everyone, nor is waking at 4a.m. each morning to begin working.  However, this is exactly the schedule I needed. My days look different now. We have much earlier bedtimes as Mommy begins her day much earlier. Any sleepiness I’m feeling in the early mornings is often replaced with thankfulness as I teach a new face every thirty minutes, some of my “regular” students, and some new. I also get to spend the weekends with my family instead of lesson planning, as the premade lessons are already in the online classroom before I arrive. Most importantly, I know that once I complete my classes, I am able to close my laptop and begin being Mom for my kids with far less frustration than I felt as a mom working full-time at school.

Whatever works for you and your life is what you should do. But from a teacher-mom to all other teacher-moms out there, I urge you to always remember one thing. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Never forget to take care of yourself. As much as you want to do whatever it takes to find the perfect balance between teacher life and home life, you can only do so much. In the end, you have to make the decision that’s best for you, too.

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