That life-work-life balance thing again

This seems to be a recurring theme for me – how to balance family with work and what percentage to give to what ? I know that I get it wrong most of the time. When you actually enjoy reading about educational issues and experimenting with software and tecchie stuff, this is one of the dangers. It doesn’t actually feel like work to catch up on the tweets about lastest teaching stuff, or to flick through a new textbook as it is actually interesting. But, having said that, at the end of the day, it IS still work.

This picture sums it up quite nicely for life balance I feel it is important to work on those little bridges you can see which take you from life to work and from work to life in this picture. If those bridges are solidly in place, I am sure the rest kind of clicks. But the bridges are definitely the key to success, in my opinion.

On my To Do list for the weeks to come, I definitely want to read a really gripping book, one that you really don’t want tp put down and that you can get totally lost in. I also want to look after my garden. I talked a while back about dealing with the front bed before the weeds took over. Well, guess what ? The weeds did take over and I am going to have one heck of job on my hands to get that cleared !! But I will. And I want to do some furniture restoration. I love tinkering with old chairs and drawers, bringing them back to life. Those are my plans for the weeks to come.

Work-wise, as school starts to wind down for the exam season, it is time to think about the Big Tidy-Up. I haven’t cleaned out my study for years (if ever) and it was originally decorated as a nursery for my son, who is now 13. The teddies stencilled on the walls could perhaps do with an update. Maybe some funky and groovy colours, rather than the baby pastels ???

In terms of tidying, the end of year brings mountains of papers to my attention, that sit there, just getting bigger as the year progresses. They will all need to be filed away and sorted out. I dream of a paperless office – ha ha !!!

Does that sound quite balanced ? Still a little way to go yet, but I am getting this space

Time out !

Today is the first day of my Easter holidays. Rarely have I waited so eagerly for the holidays to arrive. In the last couple of weeks of school, the kids were irritable, the staff were irritable and it was a generally grumpy atmosphere. But the magic of two weeks break from all of that will pour calming water onto many of those frayed nerves, leaving us refreshed and ready to start anew on May 5th. Lots to do between now and then – Easter eggs to organise, a garden to give some TLC to, some serious Spring cleaning to undertake and maybe a spot of painting – why not ? For Christmas, my lovely husband gave me a “pampering session” at our local beauty spa. I have been keeping it for a special moment – and that special moment has now come. Two o’clock this afternoon for a “Hawaian moment of relaxation” !!!

So forgive me if I take a break from my blogging too – those batteries defintely need a supercharge. The Easter bunny can take over for the time being !!


Pressure on us all in this body-con society we live in

This is an off-subject post today, but one that I would have raised in class, had I been there. It was with horror and dismay that I read on Twitter this week about the death of Peaches Geldof at the age of 25. As a teenager in 1980’s England, I was brought up on a diet of pop culture and I remember thinking that Paula Yates (Peaches’ mum) was pretty cool and yet mildly irritating at the same time. Bob Geldof (her dad) became quite a hero during the 80’s through his Band Aid work and of course, Live Aid. I remember watching Live Aid, hearing his expletives live on BBC TV and admiring the sheer audacity of it all.

paula and jools hollandWe used to tune in to “The Tube”, a outrageous music show hosted by Paula and Jools Holland. In those pre-VCR days, you watched it or you missed it forever. Just like Top of the Pops !! Paula was feisty, ballsy and gobby, everything I wanted to be but just somehow it didn’t work on me !! When I discovered she was with Bob Geldof, it was a kind of epiphany because I thought he was pretty hot stuff too. The single “I don’t like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats” was one of the first I ever bought. I never knew it at the time, but it was about a school shooting in the USA. Released in the late 1970’s, how sad that it should still be such a part of society today. You can read more about the song HERE.

bob geldofBob Geldof was a scruffy beggar in the post-Punk period. He seemed less dangerous than the Sex Pistols but was still cutting edge, in my opinion. But what did I know, in my girls’ school education ? Most males seemed “cutting edge” as long as they were a bit scruffy and wild !! This is how I remember him from the time.

When he launched Band Aid and then subsequently Live Aid, I was that much older and more mature (!!), and followed it all joyously. I still get shivers when I hear the opening bars of Band Aid as it is synonymous of a whole period of my lifetime. No details, sorry ! bob-geldof-the-boomtown-rats-18399996-438-614

Over the years, the punks have got older just as we all have. Johnny Rotten was advertising butter on the telly, last time I was home. How did that happen ? Bob Geldof, now Sir Bob, has got older too and doubtlessly wiser. Paula Yates, tragically died of an accidental overdose in 2000. Their family of children has grown up and now, this week, the dramatic news of Peaches’ death.

To begin with, I immediately assumed, as I am sure most in thier ignorance did, that this would turn out to be a tale of drug abuse of some sort, but thankfully, no. So, why “thankfully” ? Well, when you have followed a family at a distance like this over the years, you don’t want the same mistakes to be repeated over and over again, do you ? We want to think that our kids will learn from our mistakes and not make them again like we did. Peaches’ mum died when she was 11 – one of the worst things imaginable. Peaches has died at 25, leaving two young sons – it would be so wrong for it to have been due to substance abuse.

The media now seem to be suggesting that it wasn’t drug abuse that may have been responsible for her untimely death, but another sort of abuse. Reports are suggesting Peaches had been following some fruit and vegetable juice diet to lose her baby weight and more. I read this morning that she reportedly said she had been feeling “too fat”. Have you seen the photos of the poor girl ?!! skinnyWhat is it about our society that makes women feel like that ? Why are we presented with this airbrushed version of the perfect body at every opportunity and made to feel we have to strive to achieve it ? Why would Peaches have wanted to put her life at risk in such a way, just to achieve a certain body image ? It can’t possibly be justified in any way as doing it for her kids – how many kids would prefer to have a mother that dies in her attempt to achieve skinnidom ? I am sure all kids without exception would prefer to have their mothers by their sides with their extra kilos than the alternative. It makes me so angry. What sort of a society does this to girls ? When you see the photos of Peaches Geldof in her mummy mode, she looks so normal and just happy – why did she go and jeopardize that ? For what ? Kids don’t questions mummy’s body shape – kids just want their mum, whatever her body shape or size. That is what being a kid is about – you have an unconditional, accepting love of your mum.peaches and pram

If this is proven to be the cause of her untimely death, it will be such a pointless waste of a young life. Girls need to be empowered to be who they want to be and not trying to achieve some media-imposed unattainable image. I saw this following picture on Facebook this morning and it inspired me to write this rant. It makes me want to grab girls everywhere and tell them to ignore fashion, ignore body images and do what is right for you. We all have our complexes, the bits we would prefer to hide away, to swap if we could – but surely it is healthier to accept out bodies for what they are and adopt healthy attitudes than to risk losing everything and destroying lives around us in search of some ideal that is in reality far from ideal ?


For Peaches and her family, it is too late, but let this be a lesson to us all.

The Balancing Act

work life balance

I recently read a blogpost about how the Work-Life balance should in fact be called the Life-Work balance. I thought a lot about that at the time and I remember that I actually switched off the computer and went to make chocolate brownies with my son instead of spending time reading blogposts ! Here is the photo we took to prove it.2014-01-04 14.25.47 A sharp reminder of how important it is to try to maintain a balance came this week when I learned that a dear colleague from one of my training courses had been a victim of a stroke in his classroom. The news is fairly positive and he appears to be slowly regaining use of his faculties, but what a wake up call !

work life

Like many of us, and like my colleague, I often put my work before other things. How many cinema trips, football matches, films on the TV have I missed beause I have reports to finish, a presentation to tweak, books to mark ? I know that I am a perfectionist and just as I am very demanding of others, I am even more demanding of myself. But this weekend, as I think of my colleague and how things have just had to grind to a halt for him, whether he likes it or not, I think about how I must learn to re-assess too.

While I want my lessons to be as funky and as all-singing, all-dancing as possible, sometimes I just can’t. And while I want my training sessions to be 150%, sometimes they just can’t be. This morning I spent an hour making soup and a chicken pie for lunch. That should be normallity not exceptional. I actually really enjoyed it whereas generally I am not a keen cook. but the sheer normality of it felt relaxing and yet almost extravagant. Taking time out to relax is so important and yet, so hard to do a lot of the time.

A few weeks ago I did the Big Switch Off. I am not going to do that again tomorrow, but I am going to take the time out tomorrow to make a Sunday roast (roast beef and yorkshires any takers?) and to go and clear out the weeds in the front bed before they get out of hand – and to take the time to just enjoy my Sunday. Days off work are not just days given to us to catch up on what we didn’t have time to do in the week work-wise – and it is about time I started to believe that !! Anyone else feel the same ?


Blogging evolves into more blogging

I am becoming more and more interested in the role of blogging in teaching and have been enjoying reading a number of teacher blogs over this holiday period. It is actually quite addictive as everyone seems to do things quite differently and yet, at the same time, there is an echo of familiarity within the teacher blog. For me, as an English person living and teaching within the French school system, I appreciate this link with things back home and to be able to keep up to date.

The blogpost from @teachertoolkit Addiction to blogging was a true eye-opener for me this Saturday morning. Just clicking on my Twitter feed, to see what’s occurring, as they say, I got dragged into the article, thinking it looked like a good read. However, about a third of the way in, this paragraph hit me :

“If you are reading this. I am assuming the chances are, that you could be a cynosural-blogger with an addiction to social-media of sorts. Note the time you are reading this? Who are you with? Where are you you? What else could/should you be doing?”

It brought me up with a shock, making me take stock and remembering that my youngest son was waiting for me in the kitchen, with a mug of tea (in my favourite mug), some toast and the plan to make chocolate brownies together. So to answer the question “what else should you be doing ?”, well, I should be spending quality time with my youngest and not spending the time reading about blogging and blogging addiction.

I often talk about the “work-life balance thingy” and I find it one of the hardest parts of my life. Being married to a non-teacher, the time I spend preparing, marking and planning is time that I am not spending with my hubby, who is as free as a bird at weekends. I am not suggesting I am the only one who has to deal with this problem, but as the years go by, I am beginning to resent the pulls on my time more and more.

So, now the chocolate brownies are made,  the Xmas tree has been taken down. the fish tank has been cleaned out and the lunch is done and dusted, here is a bit of “me time”, a window for my blogging.Chocolate brwonies This blog is having visits from all over the globe – Malaysia and Indonesia today, Greece yesterday. I feel very proud to have such varied visitors – and of course, my students from school are popping in and out.

Blogging leads to more blogging – this post will lead to another and to another. I hope you will keep reading. And I hope I will be able to keep my eye on the ball, professionally but also, the “what is truly important” ball !! Let’s not forget what that really is.