When I was asked to try and incorporate ‘Self-Improvement September’ into one of my blogs I was at first concerned that I would end up repeating myself from my ‘self-care’ themed blog. It turns out I needn’t have worried.
I spent the whole of September with a proverbial eye open for anything that I may have done that has improved my ‘self’ and to be honest, there had been quite a few opportunities which have reared their rather inspiring heads. My husband and I have been preparing for our annual review, which in itself is a time for reflection on our experiences and a time to look back and see how far we have come and scarily, a time to look forward and see what we have facing us. We have both completed some training in our new zoom-ing world and we always make sure that we spend time (even though it may be whilst brushing our teeth at the end of the day) sharing anything we have learnt about the foster children, our own children or indeed ourselves. And whilst all of these things, I feel, have added up to only positive measures there was something, completely reserved from fostering, which really changed my mindset……..I went back to work.
I left the teaching profession in a flurry of frustration, exhaustion and stress. The profession is unbalanced and there is a huge amount of work that needs to be done to improve the well-being of all members of school staff across the whole country – but that is a whole different blog! I was ready to leave. I wanted to leave. Yet as soon as I left, I missed it. Or should I say, I missed the children. Which I know sounds utterly crazy due to me being at home with 6, but I missed the buzz of a classroom. The random questions, the lightbulb moments and I missed interacting with other adults. So, when a friend messaged and asked if I could do a day supply at her school I agreed with trepidation. Would I feel that crippling anxiety I used to feel when going into work? Would I spend the whole day wishing I was at home? Would I feel less of myself because I was going back to a profession which I felt had harmed me? All of these questions were running around in my head the night before, and I can’t say that I slept very well. Yet the following morning, I woke up alert, bright and, dare I say, excited. I felt a rush as I put on clothes that didn’t have an elastic waistband (lockdown and six kids hadn’t given me much scope to ‘dress up’), I packed a lunch and left the house – quite literally smiling as I waved goodbye to my husband juggling a million balls that a school morning brings.
I spent the day with a group of sparky, intelligent and inquisitive 6-year-olds who, like me, were also still feeling a little wobbly after six months away from school. We tackled the day together and I left at 3.45 pm with more than a spring in my step. The drive home was about forty-five minutes and on the journey, I realised how much fostering had given me. Not only had it allowed me more time at home to be with my own children it had given me back a profession which, politics aside, I really, really love. So whenever people say to me something quite typical like, ‘Oh, you are so amazing for fostering’ I think no, fostering is so amazing for me.