Happy July – the start of the summer holidays – hey for teachers and students alike, goals for parents! 🙂 At the end of July, the Roversi’s are going to Australia for three weeks therefore there will be no Featured Blogger post for August as I will be having a break, however I’m still looking for bloggers from September through to the end of the year so, if you’d like to be involved, please contact me via email, Facebook or Twitter.
I’m really pleased to be featuring a male blogger for the first time: Richard writes Man Stays Home. Richard used to be an English teacher and gave it up to be a stay at home dad. As a teacher myself, I find his story and posts very interesting. There have been times when I’ve thought about giving up teaching, not that it’s an option financially, and I can understand how hard the decision must have been for Richard as, from his Featured Blogger interview, it sounds like he was a fantastic teacher and it still very passionate about it.
I find Richard’s posts to be funny, inspiring, down to earth and honest, take this post for example, and it’s nice to know that Dad’s have similar feelings as Mum’s when it comes to their children, told brilliantly in this post: Slowly Going Mad and Enjoying the Ride.
So here is his, Richard from Man Stays Home….
1) Tell me a little more about your family…
I have three children, aged 7, 5 and 2. They’re a delight (sorry, but they are).
The eldest boy wakes up, does sport, goes to sleep. That’s him.
The girl is creative, which is a by-word for off the planet. She too is a very fast runner but will stop moments from the winning post to look at a wasp or flap her imaginary butterfly wings, and take a similar flight path. She brightens the day, every day.
The youngest goes with the flow of the other two; the cashier in Waitrose said the other day, “That’s the first time I’ve seen him without a cut on his face or grazed knees and elbows.” He follows his older brother but doesn’t quite get that he’s about two feet shorter so some of his leaps of faith end in a heap on the conservatory floor.
My wife is an academic, her official title is soon to be Doctor of Fashion although I think we’ll still call her mum; by the time she comes home there’s nothing to see, all the evidence is cleaned up and tidied away. She is very tolerant. She’s the reason the kids are beautiful and intelligent. I’m not sure what I’ve contributed. Eldest one’s got my dimples, I suppose.
2) What are the main themes of your blog?
I dropped a radiator on my hand and broke a bone recently, so for a while my posts were about anything that I could type from the letters on the right hand side of the keyboard. That was a challenge.
But I was a teacher for over ten years and my posts often have an educational slant. Sometimes it’s just stupid stuff that happens while I’m home attempting to parent, or a view on my son’s quest to be a sporting legend or an autopsy on my daughter’s latest mini-beast corpse.
3) Why did you begin your blog?
As a leaving present from school I was given a beautiful notebook ‘for my memoirs’, as if I’m Murder, She Wrote or something, but I’m way too scared to spoil it. It is a lovely thing and I’m waiting until I’m good enough to write in it.
In the meantime, I wanted an outlet for writing from the perspective of a dad at home and I fooled around with a few ideas for a blog. It can be cathartic. It can be catastrophic. But it does at least engage the brain on a regular basis. I’m intrigued by the nature of blogging as a form of writing.
4) What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
I suppose for me the chance to express thoughts and ideas with some immediacy; I think I took a lot of that into my teaching as well: I relied on style over substance, certainly, and there wasn’t a tremendous amount of style to be honest.
I never taught the same lesson year after year, it was always with a new way in or a different resource, something original that I was interested in and I’m like that with the blog. I see something and write a post and put it out there because by tomorrow I will have lost enthusiasm for writing it.
The other day I read about a blogger who said they’d built up a stash of posts to see them through the next few months, and as much as it would make things easier there’s no way I could do that. I’m much more spontaneous, or ill-prepared, as it should be called.
5) What do you find most difficult about being a Stay At Home Dad?
Not getting away from it at any point in the day. Work, school and prison have a rhythm and a routine and being a stay home parent can feel like the inescapable at times.
In the morning you could have a rubbish one: nobody seems able to eat their breakfast without welding Shreddies to the ceiling, you haven’t got the right kit washed and they turn up at the school gate looking like savages from Lord of the Flies.
Meanwhile, the little one is still crying about the muddy sock you’re making him wear because you absolutely will not cave in about something that was clean on five minutes ago.
And if you’re dropping them and running to work then you get to leave it and either immerse yourself in your job, or work out a way to deal with all the indiscretions when you get home. Forgive them, you were tired and grumpy; put your foot down and insist on early bed.
But when you’re at home you’re left with the fall out. The youngest is beside himself at the school gate and you have to turn around and take it all home, all the baggage, and deal with it. You have to make the next five minutes work. And then the rest of the morning, and the whole day. The relationship is constant.
There’s no absence to make the heart grow fonder; you’ve got to summon the fondness out of nowhere, moments after the kids have really annoyed you and you’ve really annoyed them by denying them ice cream, or something equally barbaric.
6) What did you love most, and what do you miss most, about teaching?
The attention. I really miss the attention. I never did enough acting as a kid but an audience of people who cannot get up and leave is a wonderful thing.
I miss my favourite classes; I was never allowed to say I had favourites, but I did, they knew it. The ones who weren’t my favourites knew it too and they had an air of despondency about them, like they weren’t in the crew. Having a laugh with the students meant we all got things done and we were less likely to kill each other. My classroom was rarely a stressy place.
I was often given classes of kids whose literacy skills were lacking. I loved working with children that people had sort of given up on, or who had almost given up on themselves. Sadly, it happened to enough young lives to fill a classroom every year. Kept me in a job though, I suppose. I wouldn’t pity them, I’m not kind enough to do that, but I enjoyed getting them to a place where they could use literacy in a way that served them best and, most of all, helping them to enjoy literature.
7) Are you going on a summer holiday? If yes, where. If no, where would you love to go?
We’ve rented a house in France for a week (I think) to spend with my sister in law, her partner and their baby girl.
It will be lovely not to feel so much in the parenting spotlight – do you know what I mean? When you’re the only ones with children you sometimes get paranoid, thinking your parenting skills are being scrutinised… I wouldn’t do it like that… etc.
Not that my sister in law is like that! She’s great (and we might still need a babysitter, so I’ll leave it there).
We’ve always done holidays with the children; like lots of parents, I don’t think age matters – they’ve been all over Europe by many modes of transport and my wife works in Asia, New York, anywhere to get away from me I think, and she’s constantly checking out the next family adventure.
Her late father always insisted on a holiday, however tough times were, whatever the difficulties, because family breaks from the home are absolutely priceless (half priceless in term time). It’s the going away and the coming home that’s equally important. He was a wise man.
8) Tell us about your craziness moment in teaching.
There were many that are sort of staying on tour, as it were.
This isn’t really crazy as such but I used to tell all kinds of stories to the kids, convincing ones, I saw it as my duty, being an English teacher. One was about my time on X-Factor but, as I said to the kids, I don’t talk about that.
The last answer really makes me laugh because myself and another colleague used to tell students we’d been in the Harry Potter films as extras!
Thanks so much Richard, it’s been lovely to hear more about your life!