Why I Took a Break from Art Education

Art education has been a large part of my life for many years. If I’m not writing an article about art ed, I’m reading one. If I’m not taking a graduate class, I’m planning out which one I’ll take next. I’m constantly multi-tasking, always on the go, and find it very difficult to take breaks, from anything, really.

So naturally, when I found out I was expecting baby number two, I assumed I could keep going without any breaks. I imagined I would “keep calm and carry on.” I planned to spend my maternity leave brainstorming new projects, writing curriculum, researching TAB, reading art ed articles and books, all in addition to writing weekly articles for AOE.

Reality check.

When my husband and I welcomed our second child into the world last November, I realized I couldn’t continue in the way I had. I had to take a break, whether or not I wanted to. I needed to accept that my only job on maternity leave was to be a mother and a wife. Therefore, I prioritized what I wanted to step away from and what I wanted to hold on to.

As difficult as it was to step away from my classroom and take a break from art education, it was exactly what I needed. I needed this time to not only focus on my infant daughter, I needed it to appreciate my career. I love my job, but I was burnt out. I was ready for a break. It was through this break that I was able to truly appreciate my job and return from maternity leave rejuvenated and eager to get back to the hustle and bustle. When it came time to go back to work after my maternity leave, I was ready. I even went back early. Luckily in my case, a break is just what the doctor ordered and coincidentally just what I ended up needing.

Come back tomorrow for a look at what it takes to successfully return to the classroom after a break!


Have you ever had to take a break from art ed? How did it go? 

Did you have certain expectations of how you would spend your time? Were they met, or was the experience different than you had anticipated? 




Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Ashley Fournier

    I was actually looking forward to my second maternity leave as a vacation as I too was getting a bit burnt out. I came back refreshed as a better teacher, and a better mother as I had a renewed appreaciation for my job.

    • Thank you for admitting this as I also was looking forward to my leave. :)

  • Artprojectgirl

    Maternity leave is not a break :) our bodies just went through a hugely traumatic experience and its a time to heal oh yeah and be up every 2-3 hours making sure a new life is fed and growing!!! I wish maternity breaks in the US were longer and for husbands too… When I went back after the standard 6 weeks I was exhausted and pumping in a kiln room with not enough time to even feed myself. My body not fully recovered. Give yourself time and take care… You are highly motivated but its okay to take this time and focus on family first. They are the ones who are there for us no matter what! Congrats on all your hard work momma… Don’t work too hard!

    • Amen!!! Labor is physically exhausting and postpartum is tough, especially when you return to work after six weeks. I give you so much credit, I would have been a basket case. We definitely need more paid maternity leave in the US. (I won’t even get into my speech about time off, nursing, etc.)Time goes by way too fast! Speaking of feeding a baby…

      • artprojectgirl.blogspot.com

        The way I was reading this post, I thought you took the standard maternity leave 6 weeks. I’m thinking . . . GIRL!!! You gotta give yourself a break! I think if I ever had a second one I would never do the standard 6 weeks again. Luckily I went back for 3 months and then had a month and a half for summer. I think I would have to take a 1year-3years seriously it’s hard to find a full time preschool! I am going to have to do 1/2 day and have my husband cut his hours or else more home daycare. I’m lucky in that my husband is able to step up to the plate to make the whole family situation work. It’s a different time to raise a kid for sure.

        • No way! I highly encourage anyone to take more than 6 weeks if possible. I am so thankful I had some moms in my life who encouraged me to take more. I do realize it isn’t possible for some people and I wish there was more support so everyone could. I’m also so happy I have my husband to help and support as daycare/preschool scheduling can be very difficult!

          • Ashley Fournier

            We are in the middle of trying to figure that all out! I have a 4 and 1 year old and logistically many preschools simply are not set up for the working parent. We will be separating the boys, one in preschool, one in daycare. $$$ Ouch.

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  • Darya

    What a lovely post! I too took a maternity leave – for a few years after my third son was born. Before that I tried to be all things – teacher, mom, and wife, and got totally burnt out even though my husband helped in so many ways. It was just too much and I realized that I was missing out on so much as my sons grew!

    Looking back, I have no regrets. Our children are small for such a short time and I began to see my time with them as a season in my life and a gift. Gradually, as they grew, I was able to start teaching, initially part time, but always with my family’s needs being firmly front and center.

    All the best to you and your family!

    • Thank you! I have to admit, there are times I’ve considered a leave of absence from teaching to be a mom as I also believe our children are small for such a short amount of time and it goes so quickly! It’s nice to know you were able to start teaching again and that you put your family’s needs first.

      • Darya

        I admit that it wasn’t easy to drop teaching and become a full time mom.
        I loved being with my children, but at the same time I missed being
        mentally engaged in teaching. The adjustment did come and all worked out
        beautifully in the end. I even got to draw while my little ones slept,
        something that I seem to have very little time for now! :-)

  • Felicia

    I love this article! My husband and I are planning on starting our family. I am very nervous about not working and have even started my application, portfolio etc to begin an online art education MA program to work on during my maternity leave. (Funny how we art teachers never stop, despite what our other core subject colleagues “think” we may or may not do in our classrooms.) After reading this article I have come to the realization that I may need to take a break to focus on my family and come back to teaching reenergized and full of ideas!!!

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