Saturday, 23 August 2014

Another Perspective

(If you're a newcomer to this blog and you'd like to start the story of how I came to leave teaching from the beginning, then click here.)

When my husband first talked about leaving teaching, I had two main concerns. The first was how easy it would be for him to find something else that he would find rewarding. My second concern was about money or the lack of it (rather obvious this one; I wasn't really ready to give up my gym membership and sign up for a future without holidays). Even at this stage though, the concerns were far outweighed by more positive emotions such as relief and excitement. 

The relief is perhaps hard to understand if you've not been married to a teacher. In a way, as a teacher's wife, I became part of the world of teaching. I've spent many a Saturday walking up and down the High Street helping to look for 'school stuff': props for the next play or role-play corner, baking ingredients, prizes, you know the kind of thing. I've also become excellent at backing displays, filing work, sticking labels on drawers, guillotining and gluing (anything to get him home sooner). That's the practical side. The emotional side is another thing entirely. It's hard to see someone you love being constantly battered by their work. I found it hard to relax and felt guilty about having free time when my husband was working such long hours at school and also working from home at evenings and weekends. Free time is limited and when inspections and Ofsteds come along, you can forget it altogether. This isn't meant to sound like a moan. I don't think that I had a bad life before my husband said cheerio to teaching and I was more than happy to support him in his career but I didn't know what kind of a life we were missing until he made the decision.

So were my fears founded? In a word, 'no'. My husband had obviously already put some thought into leaving teaching and suggested doing supply work to give him the time to research other job opportunities and also to give us a decent income while he found other work. He's now enjoying his new job and has no fears about changing again if necessary. I needn't have worried; he's a resourceful chap.

My second concern was money. I found that because we had a decent household income, and little spare time, we didn't have the time, energy or need to look for ways to save and cut down on our spending. When you have to, there are loads of ways that you can save money, make money and cut down. We had a good clear out and got rid of a load of stuff we didn't need at the local car boot. Not an experience I'd want to repeat but it was definitely worth it financially. Martin Lewis has saved me a pound or two as well. Following his advice, I've got more bank accounts than the average person but with a few strategically placed standing orders so that I can meet the minimum monthly funding requirements on the various accounts, I've managed to get a decent amount of interest for our money. I've also saved loads on gas, electricity, home and car insurance and holidays (so much cheaper going in term time). Finding out that the gym does a cheaper off-peak membership that actually suited me better was a bonus.

For me, the fact that my husband earnt a decent wage each month, gave me security. When I challenged my thinking, I really didn't need a teacher's salary to give me the level of security that I needed. For me, I learnt to be realistic about how much of a reserve we actually needed for those unexpected events. Funnily enough (well, not funny at all at the time) our reserve levels have been put to the test since my husband has said goodbye to teaching. We've recently had one of those dreaded unexpected events and it resulted in ten weeks with no second income. And guess what? We were fine. Okay, so we didn't go out as much and we didn't book the second holiday that we had planned but we were absolutely fine. And now that we're back to two full-time salaries, I feel positively wealthy. 

Now it's a completely different life. I have a husband who comes home from work at a reasonable time. Sometimes he meets me from work and it's lovely just to sit and chat. He seems a lot more relaxed and obviously, that's had an effect on me. It's given us both more free time as well; I hardly ever cook tea now. Evenings and weekends are times to be enjoyed; not just for getting stuff done that doesn't fit into the week and to bolster your strength for the week ahead.

Okay, so now we can't afford a posh meal out every week but that's no bad thing health-wise and I can honestly say that I enjoy our meals out more now than I used to because we've had to wait a few weeks. I take a lot less for granted and trying not to sound too cheesy, I feel like a better person for it.

The decision that we made for my husband to give up teaching has had a huge positive impact on both of our lives. We now have time to do stuff that we want to. The world seems to have taken on a slower pace and I love it. 

(In the next post I'll sum up the pros and cons of leaving teaching.)

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