From Teacher to Mother
Niomi Clyde Roberts on perspective, trauma, strategies and consistency away from the classroom
My little girl has been in the world for five weeks now and I can already see that she has challenged my perspectives. I now very much ‘go with the flow’ in regards to getting through each day. However, two areas of my thinking that has stayed particularly strong is ‘routine’ and ‘consistency’, without these I think I’d be slightly insane by now.
Just like running a classroom, you need to set the expectations and then meet the child half way. There are so many do’s and do nots in parenting (and teaching) – best thing to do is get to know your rules and how your child operates.
Again, akin to teaching and leadership, I don’t listen to advice unless I think it’s good, I’m quite stubborn like that. But it means I stick to my guns and don’t try too many things at once. This rarely works, in teaching and in parenting.
Being a teacher before having a baby really has helped me with so many areas:
- Attention to detail
The majority of teachers are perfectionists and notice the small details, this helps when understanding the different ‘tones’ when your baby cries. Within a short time, you understand exactly what they need. You can teach babies to sign as well. My baby is responding to some signs already, because I constantly communicate and respond to her needs. Knowing what works for your children in the classroom and knowing what works for your child. I will follow my own guidelines and will only ask for help, if I really need guidance. Mother/ Class teacher knows best – majority of the time.
I’m beginning to form this and as I have to watch her carefully throughout each day at night, I am gradually learning to take time out for myself. Even if it’s quickly running upstairs to get changed into my PJs or taking a bath whilst the husband watches over her. It will be a long time before I can leave her with family or friends.
3. Routine & perseverance
We are forming a regular routine and it works. I know exactly when to feed her so I can get both herself and myself ready. I’ve also kept up to date with housework, events and general daily chores as I refuse to let them slip. Again, it’s like I would continue an intervention daily in the classroom, until children understood it.
I’ve had to have plenty of this. Especially rocking her to sleep at 2am in the morning, when she’s wide awake. I normally sing to her as this soothes her, into a deep sleep. You figure out so many different strategies to help them sleep and stay calm. Again, similar to teaching, you always have a bank of ideas up your sleeve, just in case one doesn’t work.
Routine is based on doing the same things often. This works in the classroom and works for a new-born. She is beginning to know what happens next and again this helps her relax and stay calm – no crying, just a chilled baby. Well, until bedtime!
6. Emotional intelligence
This comes in handy when dealing with over-keen relatives and a tired husband. Being able to read the situation and handle it effectively (even when exhausted). Setting boundaries, so that visitors don’t overstay when you need to get the little one fed and to bed. Noticing the signs of burnout, knowing when to give someone a break. I studied emotional intelligence in quite a lot of depth when completing my NPQML. I honestly think, to be a good leader, you need to have a strong understanding of EI.
I love being a mother and I love that I can apply so many strategies from teaching, to help bring her up. I do miss the fast-paced classroom environment and the sense of achievement you have, when leading a class or team. I have a very active mind, so to go from moving 100 miles an hour (school pace) to taking things slowly has been a real challenge. But I’m happy adapting to motherhood, and I know it will make a better teacher and leader when I return.