How did I get here?
At around 8pm I hear the Malbec calling me from the cupboard…Spending most of my days running round after my three children, at that time of the day I normally take a breath, brace myself for the mammoth folding of the contents of the tumble dryer (my husband’s greatest gift) and load up the dishwasher. As I light an incense stick it’s almost like a flare to the motherhood world to say “I’m here, I made it!”
If you don’t know me, I’m Katie and for the past ten years I guess my opening introduction line is ‘I’m a Mum’, I am and I love it, admittedly, not always. Some days you have to really find that grit and as I write this in Lockdown 3.0, grit has been needed more than ever. I wonder how I had the audacity in the years that preceded 2010 to lay on the sofa after work watching Hollyoaks and claiming I was tired. Back in the day, before I landed the ‘Mum’ role I was working full time as a primary school teacher, I was enthusiastic and creative. Now these were the good old days when teaching came with a certain amount of freedom, walks to the library, glorious golden time, coffee in a mug and scented stickers!! There was less rigour and more flexibility.
When teaching, my whole ethos was around children being happy, content and enjoying learning. Sure there was assessments and expectations, but their emotional development remained at the heart of what I did. That and making sure I knew where the laminating pouches were hidden!!
Over the years as my tribe expanded I have reduced the time I have taught in the classroom. There’s no denying that this love of learning is within me, I’m a sucker for creative writing and a bit of grammar. Please don’t be misled, I was never the high achiever at school, it wasn’t easy and I had to work hard! When I started college (in the era of pedal pushers) the advisor said “take what you enjoy”, so every week I would get a D in English Literature but god I loved everything about that subject and could talk for hours with Mr Kennedy on feminism; discussing everything from Pat Butcher’s earrings to the life of Sylvia Plath! I wish knowing what I know now that I could resubmit those essays. These kids are expected to know everything now from parenthesis to relative clauses, yet I managed to get to degree level being totally oblivious!
I digress…so fully immersed in this Mum role I was beginning to pine to return to what I knew. I started missing the buzz of being part of learning. Anyone else do this? (Like when I thought it just might be a good idea to do an MA with a newborn) I missed the classroom, the pupils and the magical journey that happens between a teacher and pupil. I still wanted to do this but with all the good bits; be in charge of what I taught and how I taught it, keeping it personalised, relaxing and fun!! Best of all, my mum role now enhanced my CV.
I realised that since becoming mum I was a different teacher. I saw further depth to those little people entering the classroom; some probably had refused to eat breakfast; others had had a tantrum from having to turn off their tablet before coming to school or not want to wear their socks today (just because) and there were those who had worried all morning in case Daisy Smith (names have been changed to protect identities) was going to make friends with them at playtime.
50% of the time I’m flying my parenting solo, although always the captain, my husband works away (for 30 days this stint, maybe more). It’s not easy, I make mistakes, I get it wrong, but my biggest strength in this is honesty to my children. Of course, I want to watch Ralph doing back flips for the millionth time and see Flo’s dance she has just filmed on her phone and recite ‘Row – Row’ to Rupert, but I also want a porn star martini and scallops hand fed to me by Brad Pitt. Okay, Brad isn’t realistic! But I arrived at a place where I knew I needed more for me. A place where I get to feel fulfilled and have a little something for me! Some may think I’m crazy, going from my children to more children but if you’re a teacher, you know. That’s when I created The Progress Place.
I decided to marry what I knew from teaching and being a mum together to create a space that is warm, safe, nurturing and at the same time encourage growth and development for little people. My ‘superskill’ is that I am a real parent, I get it! And if you are, you get it too! (Huge apologies to my pupil last week who witnessed Rupert zoom-crashing our session, but there it is, I am a real life mum and juggling is what we do best).
My children are all different, they all have different needs and tolerance levels, different paces to learning and different degrees of resilience…So here I am, at The Progress Place, encompassing all of that with my love of teaching has encouraged me to create this wonderful space, which I love! I want to share with you what I think works, raise awareness on supporting children’s emotional development and instil that parents need to give themselves a break! In essence, this is what I am about. Whether you engage in these squares or my tuition, this is who I am and how I got here and this journey has only just begun….