by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
There are times when you are forced to evaluate what is important to you.
At a time when I was a single parent, I chose my son over my teaching career.
I was working in one authority and realised that his holiday dates in the neighbouring authority didn't match mine. It would mean we wouldn't be able to spend any time together and I would additionally need to organise and pay for childcare - double loss!
I initially worried about leaving the financial security of a full-time job but decided that more money could always be earned. I would never get the time back with my kiddo. So, I handed in my notice and left my full time and permanent teaching position for agency work as a supply teacher. The first day of the new term rolled around and despite being registered with three agencies, my phone didn't ring.
After a week of no phone calls, I started to ring the agencies. I let them know I was available and pro-actively asked what work was available and where they could send me. I was timid at first, but as time went by I became more assertive. The small amount of savings I had would not last forever, and this was a choice I had made. I was finally booked for a couple of days. Then the jobs started rolling in. Schools would contact the agency and ask for me back, as I was versatile and would work with any age group. As an experienced teacher I was also less phased by 'challenging' classes and view these classes as having had a tough educational experience so far.
I learned how to adapt to this new unpredictable lifestyle. Having spent 16 years in full time education, I was very used to a timetable. It was almost un-nerving how adrift and untethered I felt without this. I learned to be comfortable in my head by writing my own timetable, exercising or going for walks. Methods of coping that I later found useful in the lockdowns of the pandemic.
My choice to take a pay-cut was the right one at the time. I was able to help my son with his homework and we spent days together in the holidays. I felt like I was part of his life and wanted to continue to be a major influence to shape and support him.
It was one of the most bold decisions I've ever made and I feel proud that I did it and made it work.
What is the boldest action you've ever taken?