So many teachers struggle with the decision to change careers. This is especially true for those who are also parents. When you have your own kids at home, the potential schedule changes that come with a career transition can cause hesitation to leave the classroom. With teaching, you are able to enjoy summers off with your kids. Having the same weekly and holiday schedule as your kids makes life easier for your family. In addition to this, you may not be sure if a new career would provide the benefits your family needs.
These are all valid concerns, and ones we hear often from parents making a pivot from classroom teaching. In this blog, we will address these questions and more.
First, I want to be fully transparent. I am not a parent. I do not have any kids of my own, so I cannot relate to this situation on a personal level. So, I enlisted some help from former teachers in our community. All the advice and encouragement you will read in this article comes from actual parents who found success in their career transition.
Weighing the Decision to Change Careers as a Parent
Arguably the most important part of a career transition is making the best decision for YOU and your family. We never want to encourage anyone to make a rash decision. The most important advice I can give you is to weigh the pros and cons. Transitioning from teaching to a new career is tough. It takes time. And this decision will impact your entire family.
While most of the former teachers we surveyed will tell you the positive impact this change had on their family, everyone’s situation is different. Your family values, financial situation, and priorities are unique to you. Do what is best for YOU and YOUR family.
This is a difficult decision. Your emotions will often try to talk you out of any huge change like this based off fear of the unknown. Try making a pros and cons list to take the emotions out of it. For example, what are the pros of you leaving vs. the cons of you leaving? Rate each of them on a scale of one to five (5 being most important, 1 being least) and then add up each side.
The concern of your kids attending the same school where you teach has been brought up by many parents. If you leave the classroom, can they stay at that school? The unfortunate reality is not always. Former teachers in our audience who have dealt with this situation have said the tradeoff of having a more present parent was worth it for their kids. But this is something you’ll want to add to your list to weigh the pros and cons of as well.
You’ll always be nervous to take a leap. But the most transforming chapters of our lives happen when we do things that scare us. If you are mentally struggling far more often than you are happy, it’s time to get help, or leave. Think about the effects your unhappiness could be having on your family.
Directly from a former teacher, and mom, in our community: “Your kids want the best, happiest version of you. What will make YOU happiest? That will have ripple effects.”
Will You Miss Summers With Your Kids?
Probably the most frequent concern we hear from parents is summer break. After having summers off for so long, the corporate world can be a culture shock. Many teacher moms and dads use the summertime to bond with their kids, go on fun adventures you wouldn’t typically have time for, and relax together. Some parents use the summertime to work a second job. Either way, losing summer break is a big deal. But do the tradeoffs make it worth the loss?
Let’s hear from some former teachers, and parents, on the summertime topic:
- “Don’t get me wrong, I did miss having a huge chunk of time off – BUT- and it’s a big BUT- life is all about tradeoffs, and the tradeoff of my improved mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being during the months of August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March, April, May, and June have far outweighed the sense of freedom I had in the month of July! When you think about it, that’s the only month we actually get truly “off”- still working in June, decompressing from the school year – and August is full of PDs, prepping for the new school year, and half a month of the worst Sunday scaries you can get.”
- “It’s a bummer, I admit. At the same time, I’m not stressed in the summer, and I can adjust my hours if needed, so getting off early one afternoon and heading to the pool is not a big deal!”
- “Finding childcare is a little tricky and an added expense but I really love getting to CHOOSE when we take time off work and do family things/vacation and the added flexibility for appointments or caring for a sick child year-round.”
- “Summer never felt like enough time to recharge or truly enjoy family time. It was a whirlwind of accomplishing everything put off during the school year, and this need to plan a bunch of activities to make up for lost time. There was too much pressure to use every minute because when the school year started, I knew there wouldn’t be time. The end of the summer always gave me the Sunday scaries which made it difficult to enjoy.”
- “I feel sad about losing summer break, but I’m a better mom the other months now. I am the mom I was during the summer, year-round now.”
- “Losing summer break has been completely fine. I traveled just as much & have unlimited PTO in my new job, so I used it to take a week or a long weekend here and there. No worries at all.”
Are some former teachers bummed about losing summer break? Absolutely. But, more often than not, the tradeoff of a better work-life balance and improved mental health wins. There are big decisions your family will have to make as you consider a career transition. Do you have family or friends to watch your kids while you work? Are there day camps your kids would enjoy? Are you interested in working a remote role so you can keep your kids at home with you? Would your new salary offset the cost of daycare in the summer?
All these questions are important, and unique to your family. But most working parents don’t have summers off. If they can manage, so can you.
Navigating a New Schedule
The second concern we hear most from parents considering a new career is about their schedule. Whether you teach in the same district your kids attend or not, the synchronicity of the year-to-year schedule is a nice perk. Besides the obvious summer break, you may have similar days off for holidays. Your schedule also may sync well enough for drop-off and pick-up times to be seamless. Changing careers will surely come with its challenges.
Let’s find out from former teachers, and parents, if it’s a deal breaker
- “I am able to enjoy my weekends with my kids more! I have more energy for them and no guilt of needing to be a mom and a teacher. I have been able to take time for them guilt-free and can adjust my schedule for school events.”
- “I am now able to sit and eat breakfast with my daughter every morning, I walk her to school every morning, and I see her as soon as she gets out of school every afternoon. I never had those opportunities when I taught.”
- “My schedule is even more flexible now. I’m not rushing to push the kids out the door so I can make it to school by 7:30am. If I’m late, I just work a little later.”
- “Not being on the same school schedule as my oldest – I’m able to attend school events, volunteer at his school, and pick him up if he’s sick.”
- “Looking ahead, it will be hard and a little sad to have to specifically take time off work to do things like holiday fun and some summer activities. But that’s what PTO is for.”
- “My role has unlimited PTO so I am still able to take off days during winter break, summer break, and even better- randomly throughout the other months of the year (WITHOUT HAVING TO WRITE SUB PLANS!).”
- “Of course I’d like to be home every day my kids are home, but when I come home from work now, I’m able to be present. That wasn’t the case while I was teaching.”
- “I don’t miss my old schedule. I like a year-round schedule that is consistent rather than the roller coaster of up and down stress/relief/stress/relief that is the school year.”
We have also heard from former teachers who haven’t started their new careers yet and are still trying to figure things out. It’s an adjustment, no doubt about it. But the vast majority of former teachers in our audience prefer the flexibility of a career outside the classroom.
Finding Work-Life Balance
Now, let’s talk about work-life balance. Most teachers don’t have it, and chances are if you’re reading this, you’re looking for something new with more balance. The stress and demands of classroom teaching can be overwhelming and leave you drained at the end of the day.
When you get home to your family, is the time you’re spending together as good as it can be? Are you spending nights and weekends grading papers and worrying about your students rather than focusing on your own kids? Is your mental health declining in the classroom enough to make parenting more difficult? These are all questions to ask yourself as a parent interested in a career pivot.
An overwhelming majority of the former teachers we hear from rave about the work-life balance in their new careers. The ones with kids at home, and the ones without.
Let’s hear from the ones with kids about how their mental health and work-life balance have changed since leaving the classroom
- “I am unbelievably happy with my decision to leave the classroom. I have energy for my family, my mental health has improved, and I’m making enough to send my daughter to college.”
- “I was giving all my energy to my students and was exhausted by the end of the day. I had little left for my own kids.”
- “My family had an intervention with me to discuss how it was affecting our whole family. They were right. When I finally resigned (mid-year) the relief was unbelievable. For my family, and my health, I had to leave.”
- “My mental health has improved. I thrive on consistency and schedule, and summers always threw me for a loop. I prefer having my overall improved mental health/time/patience on a weekly basis vs. a couple of months out of the year.”
- “I am a military spouse and raising a young kid away from family is already difficult. As a teacher I always felt like I gave so much love and energy to my students that I ended up drained by the time I got home to my own kid. Not anymore.”
Having energy for your own kids after a long day in the classroom is a common theme. You don’t want to be exhausted, and still thinking about your day, when you get home to your loving family. And they want the best version of you they can get. Working in a lower-stress career with a better work-life balance could mean big improvements for your mental health.
Salary, Benefits and Parental Leave
When you have a family, a huge concern with changing careers is the financial aspect. If you are planning on transitioning from teaching to another career, finances are something to discuss with your family. There is a possibility that a new career outside the classroom will offer better benefits and a higher salary. But that is not always the case, and something you’ll need to consider. Talk to your family about your budget and salary needs as you pursue a new path. You may want to read our resources on researching salaries, as well.
While school districts offer health insurance and retirement plans, so do jobs outside the classroom. In fact, we often hear from former teachers about having better benefits in their new career. Better health insurance, more PTO, flexible schedules, and other perks could be waiting for you on the other side. Some corporate companies even offer childcare options such as in-house daycare or family support programs. This depends on the company. So, it’s important to do your research to ask questions throughout the interview process.
If you plan to have more kids or are still in the process of starting a family, there are other perks that come along with changing careers. While maternity, paternity, and family leave are going to vary from company to company, often the average time off is four to 12 weeks paid. Some companies even offer reduced hours when new parents come back for the first few months.
Finding A New Role
I hope the feedback from other parents in this article has inspired you to believe you can make this happen for yourself.
Take a look at some of the new positions those former teacher parents have landed
- Customer success specialist
- Sales trainer
- Account manager
- Project manager
- Program coordinator
- Student services coordinator
- Training manager
- Talent development specialist
- Mental health consultant
- Curriculum and assessment writer
- Educational diagnostician
- Office coordinator
- Test developer
- Academic advisor
- Learning & development specialist
- Learning designer
- Proposal coordinator
- Education sales consultant
And since we’re talking to parents here, let’s address the SAHM concern. If you were a teacher, then took a few years off to be a stay-at-home-parent, a new career is possible for you too. You’ll have a gap in employment on your resume. That’s okay! You can address the resume gap in an interview, so be prepared to talk about it. It is perfectly acceptable to explain that your employment gap was used to prioritize time with your family. You can say your time away from work to focus on your family has helped you gain more clarity on how you’d like to move forward.
Words Of Encouragement
Team Teacher Career Coach understands how difficult a career transition can be. Just the thought of changing careers is a lot to process. This is even more trying when you have a family you are caring for. All the former teacher parents who provided advice throughout this article were once in your shoes. And they found light at the end of the tunnel. You can too.
If you need a pep talk from a few more parents like you…your wish is my command!
- “I used to feel as though I couldn’t be good to my child, good to my students/coworkers, and good to myself all at once. One always wasn’t making the cut. In my new position, I can balance caring for my kid, caring for myself, and doing a great job in my career. That has made me a happier person, a better mom, and a more purpose-driven employee. It was worth it.”
- “Most other jobs have way more day-to-day flexibility than teaching. Think hard about whether 6 weeks of time with your kids is better than more time and energy every single day. For me that way of looking at it provided a lot of clarity.”
- “Other people’s kids and teaching were DRAINING me, and I was short fusing on my own children and becoming frustrated easily. I truly believe I’m a better mom now because I have energy for my own kids even if the schedule is different.”
- “The demands and unrealistic expectations of the education system are essentially making educators choose between their career or their family. As an educator who LOVED their job but chose her family, just know it was the hardest decision I’ve made thus far.”
- “Self-care is not selfish. In order to be the best parent, you must do what is best for you. If that is leaving the classroom, then that is what is best for your kids too.”
- “When you don’t feel like you’re parenting a huge group of kids all day long you have an awful lot more energy at home to parent your own.”
- “Find a company that is parent-friendly and be clear up front that you are a parent first. As long as you do your job, get your work done, and bring value to your team, no one will bat an eye when you need to take some time with your family.”
Next Steps to a New Career
Transitioning from teaching to another career can be challenging. If you are struggling to determine what new career could be right for you, take our free career quiz to help you get started.
One of the biggest mistakes that we see educators make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season. Teacher Career Coach wants to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.
You don’t have to do this on your own.
Our team of former teachers and career experts have created a comprehensive guide to support you through every stage of your transition out of the classroom. Tap the button below to learn more.