Alex Hunter talks about career changes after becoming a mother.
I have so many talented, amazing, inspiring friends who were all high-flying career women in different and varied sectors before they had their beautiful babies. Almost all of them no longer have the same careers now they have children and if they are, they are working the same number of hours under the guise of part time employment and they’re earning less for the privilege. I can only think of two who are working in exactly the same way post children and they both have exceptionally supportive partners.
When I was on maternity leave, I questioned for the first time whether or not I could continue doing what I had always done, and loved. The logistics alone (an hour and a half commute each way) when I considered childcare hours were daunting. My priorities had changed and I knew that I needed to do something that was more child friendly, something that was more logical for my baby.
My whole life was flipped upside down through separation 20 months ago and that enabled me to really think about what I was going to do for a living. Being a single parent means you don’t have someone to pick things up for you if you’re working late, or have flu and so I knew I needed a career that would fit around and grow with Seb as much as possible. My child is the most important thing in my world so I wanted my future work to allow me the most possible time with him. I have thought about teaching for about 10 years, I have volunteered with children’s charities to scratch the itch, but teaching always felt like a dream I could not afford living in London. When I moved back to Oxford, I knew I could make it a reality. Seb’s education matters more to me than almost anything else and so I knew that if I became a teacher, I could help him tremendously with his schooling as well as having all of his holidays together.
Last summer I left the company I had helped build over seven years with very mixed emotions and a lot of tears. I waved a final goodbye to London, after a love affair with the city that had lasted for 16 years. In September, I walked back into university (14 years after I left) to start a 10-month PGCE in Primary Teaching. It has been intense, exhausting, expensive and utterly brilliant. I can honestly say I have loved almost every day of it, I have been challenged, humbled, stretched and satisfied in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
Walking out of your comfort zone into something entirely alien is immensely exhilarating and a little terrifying. In September I will have my own class of 30 children and I can’t wait to meet them. It’s not all roses of course, I have had a never-ending cold for six months through being run down and I’ll earn less in September than I did when I started my first job after my degree. But I have a two month summer hanging out with Seb ahead of me, I’ll have this every year and I know that I’ll always be able to help him develop with his education. Have the snot, pressure and stresses been worth it? Absolutely!