Teachers juggling young children at home know the value of time management

Bailey Kirkeby, News Editor

As any parent can attest, their job is hard enough. With the burden of dealing with moody teenagers transitioning into adulthood, the amount of time spent working outside of their paid work hours and their often low wages, being a teacher while simultaneously raising a child can be tumultuous.

“I definitely enjoy being a dad,” AP and CP Chemistry teacher Han Nguyen said. “It keeps me up at night, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. I mean, [my daughter is] cute as hell, I can’t get mad at her for [keeping me up].”

To accommodate their hectic schedules, teachers with children put in extra time and effort to ensure that they fulfill their work duties while simultaneously setting aside time for their family.

“I try very hard to get most of my work done at school, even if it means coming early or coming late, which happens quite often,” CP Government and Economics teacher and cross-country coach Jason Johnson said. “That way, when I go home, my family knows that it’s family time.”

Although most teachers say that the joys of being a parent outweigh the long nights and extra work, some have seen that their productivity has decreased after having a child.

“I feel like I’ve been less efficient with my work because I’m just more fatigued, so I feel like I don’t grade at the same rate that I used to,” Nguyen said. “Sometimes I’ll finish grading something and I’ll look back twice and I notice that I made a grading mistake that I normally wouldn’t have made.”

Bear Creek Principal Hillary Harrell says that Bear Creek does not offer specific accommodations for teachers that are new parents.

“We try to support each other as a family, but we don’t necessarily have anything in writing or any kind of structure [to support teachers with young children.] I just always hope that people reach out to their friends and family here and let us know if they need any support.”

However, Harrell says that teachers are able to receive paid leave to care for their child if they sign up for disability insurance.

“If parents are taking advantage of what’s called the Family Medical Leave Act, they may get paid leave, but it really depends on what disability insurance they have,” Harrell said. “I always recommend that all new teachers — regardless of gender — sign up for disability insurance. A lot of teachers, particularly men, don’t sign up for it, and you just never know when you’re gonna have to miss work [for your child].”

For some teachers, having a child has changed the way they run their classes.

“I’m definitely gonna be much stricter on grading this semester, if I wasn’t already strict before,” Nguyen said. “Anyone who attempts to waste my time with their grade as opposed to me spending time with my daughter is definitely not gonna put me in a very good mood.”

Johnson says that although it’s often difficult to balance work and family, proper time management is important.

“In the world we live in today, a single-income family can be very tough,” Johnson said. “Time management is key. [My daughter] Avery is really interested in basketball, and that requires long afternoons and early mornings, but that’s the sacrifice you make for your children. I hope we can provide opportunities for our children that we didn’t have and move forward to provide a well-balanced life for our family.”