Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Baby goes to IATEFL 2015, part I

I’ve been off the blog for a few months much as I feared in the New Year. That post’s empty promises to myself were driven by the doubt I’d still be a real person after having a baby. I blog therefore I am. Or was.

Not my baby but as soon as he can sit up unaided, a pose worth recreating.

Not my baby but as soon as he can sit up unaided, a pose worth recreating.

It turns out that the me that I’ve been jogging along with my whole life has made a reasonably seamless transition into motherhood, but typing one-handed while holding a baby has meant some aspects have suffered. There’s not been much writing of any kind even though I have tons of things I could be writing. Even now, mid-blog, my mind is on other things.

Namely, IATEFL next week. Or two weeks, or whatever that time thing is where one day or week is differentiated from another.

Things on my mind pre-IATEFL 2015:

1. WhyTF am I going anyway?

Everyone warned me (well, warnings are to your face and these were mostly to my partner so probably only partly qualify as such) that I wouldn’t give a crap about IATEFL in post-newborn flush.

They were all right.

But, as irony would have it, I absolutely cannot back out because, alongside Russ Mayne (@ebefl), I’m speaking not just attending and the talk is titled Where are the women in ELT?

There’s no way I can let the answer be “off having babies”. We’ve put so much work into the research and construction of the talk on an issue we think needs much more time in the spotlight that not going would be hugely disappointing. And would let Russ have all the glory.

2. Since I am going, WTF am I going to do about childcare?

Of course, IATEFL have a crèche. Oh, damn, that’s right, there’s no facility whatsoever for families with children at a conference that runs across the weekend and, for some, the end of the Easter school holidays.

The solution is roping in the aid of the two grandmothers, neither of whom live in the area so hotels, meals and transport have to be paid for. I expect I won’t attend that much of the conference but the day of my talk and some prep time, I’ll need help and am very lucky to be able to call on them.

On the other hand, if I’m going to do this, I figure do it properly. Is it possible to attend talks with a baby? What about breastfeeding? Nappy changing? Since ELT is predominantly female, you’d hope all these things are going to be accommodated at its biggest event. How much are we really geared up in the UK for parents to manage their lives with a child? And …can I sell any articles about it to parenting magazines?

3. WTF am I going to do about lactation?

I’m pretty concerned about this one. Very few clothes hold up well in these conditions and breast pads are in serious need of some innovation. Forget about making your fortune in ELT/edtech, tomorrow’s millionaire is the person who can make those useless padded discs stickier and uncrunch-up-able.

4. WTF am I going to wear?

Always a problem of course but pencil skirts used to be the answer. Pyjamas, men’s shirts and slippers just aren’t going to be at their best up there on the podium. I resent having to buy clothes I can look good in while pot-bellied (but not in that good-pregnant-way) and anyway, I don’t have time to go shopping. That’s another reason for taking baby to talks. People will realise why I don’t look my usual shape.

At least it will all give me some blog fodder for a few days. I’ll co-opt the IATEFL hashtag and let you all know how it’s going. 🙂


If you want to come along, Where are the women in ELT?, is Monday at 18:00




23 comments on “Baby goes to IATEFL 2015, part I

  1. Julie Sarah Mizrahi
    April 1, 2015

    I love your blogs…make me laugh out loud. I wish I was going to IATEFL just to attend your session – let me know if it’s recorded. Good luck 🙂

    • Nicola
      April 1, 2015

      Thank you! I love writing this blog and I’ve missed it so that’s really lovely to hear. we’ll be recording ourselves and possibly DIY livestreaming too but watch out for news on that …

  2. Laura Summers
    April 1, 2015

    Congrats Nicola. Such an exciting time – shame you and baby (name?) can’t hibernate for a few months, but as you say – that would answer – Where are the women in ELT? – a bit too clearly.
    Best of luck with it. I’m sure you’ll do (and look) superb!

    • Nicola
      April 1, 2015

      Thank you! I’m going to quite enjoy the non-hibernation plus of showing off my cutie really 🙂 We called him Luke despite my known preference for Han Solo

  3. Hana Tichá
    April 1, 2015

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Nicola. It took me back to those days when I wasn’t able to make a coherent sentence because my brain was kind of switched off after the act of delivering a baby (which has happened 3 times in my life). For several months afterwards, I wasn’t interested in anything but the child (*obsessed* would be the best expression). So I admire your decision to go and present at a big conference. I don’t think I would have been able to write a post, let alone speak publicly. Hats off!

    • Nicola
      April 2, 2015

      Luckily (well, it was foresight not luck) we did a lot of the prep well before now. But whether I can speak with coherence about anything except nappies when there’s no script outside our talk will be the bigger challenge!

  4. Andy Johnson
    April 1, 2015

    That’s quite an undertaking Nicola so good luck on the big day. My son arrived early and at around the time I should’ve been putting my own speaker proposal for Manchester in, so I’ll be at IATEFL as an attendee this year, wandering around bleary-eyed as the effects of five months of broken sleep is plain for all to see 🙂

    • Nicola
      April 2, 2015

      I’d rather not hear that it’s that way 5 months in thanks 🙂 See you there!

  5. HL
    April 1, 2015

    Loved this post!
    You could always wear the baby the whole time, solving leaky problem (baby covers it up), shape problem (a sling holds everything in) and clothes problem (everyone’s distracted by the baby). However what is most likely to happen is that baby will go mental exactly 1.06 minutes before you are due to talk, and you’ll have to either present while feeding or take child out of sling and effectively be left leaky, shapeless and badly-dressed 🙂
    Maybe not then.
    Good luck with it all anyway, it’d be really interesting to hear about your experience. Congrats!

    • Nicola
      April 2, 2015

      You’ve cracked it! But even I’m drawing the line at having him in my own talk!

  6. HL
    April 1, 2015

    Forgot to mention: you might like this blog

  7. helenwaldron
    April 1, 2015

    Good for you, Nicola. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. I still look back on my baby time(s) as the hardest time(s) of my life (no job security, no maternity leave, up all night and teaching my first class of the day at 7am). Good for you for managing so well – and reminding the world that it’s not as easy as it looks!

    • Nicola
      April 2, 2015

      I can’t imagine teaching at the moment! That’s quite a feat! I should compile a blog post with women’s experiences with childcare/rearing in TEFL as the maternity pay/lack of security etc feeds into other aspects of whether this industry treats its workers right.

  8. Jo Gakonga
    April 2, 2015

    Great post – good luck with it! I attended IATEFL heavily pregnant (in 1999 – he’s taller than me, now) and that was fun, (lots of positive attention) but they’re much easier when they’re still bound by the womb and can’t scream in conference-type situations… I’m sure you’ll be great (and wear something black on top – that way the wet patches don’t show so much!).

    • Nicola
      April 2, 2015

      I’m hoping that I can time sleeping vs screaming productively and sit by the exit ready to slip out if I go to any talks. We’ll see if that’s possible …

  9. Jo Budden
    April 2, 2015

    Good for you, Nicola. Three years ago I was supposed to be at IATEFL for the LearnEnglish Teens website launch. I’d got the job as web editor in September 2011 when I was heavily pregnant … thank goodness for phone interviews! 😉 Had the baby in December, was back at work 6 weeks later and the site launched in March … in the end I didn’t make it to the conference. It was just too much at the time and baby two wasn’t a dream-baby like my first so I had visions of sick and milk all over the place! I had the same worries as you about how to juggle it all and I now regret that I chickened out. I’ll try and come to your talk for sure. See you there. (I can hold baby Luke if you need some extra hands!) Good luck with it all.

    • Nicola
      April 3, 2015

      I had to drop out of one conference for my publisher while I was pregnant and wrestled with the decision so I can imagine what you were dealing with.
      A really nice and unexpected thing to have come out of this post is the support from women I have never met, didn’t know were following my blog but have this shared experience with. Thank you!

  10. Pingback: Baby goes to IATEFL 2015, part I | The Echo Chamber

  11. Stefan
    April 6, 2015

    This resonates with me too even though I’m not doing the childbearing myself – my fiancée’s due date is not long after IATEFL so I was initially worried that the little miss might decide to come into the world a little earlier. I think I’ll eventually make it there for a day though.

    When exactly is your talk by the way? I couldn’t see a schedule on the event’s website.

    • Nicola
      April 7, 2015

      I bet she wishes the baby would come earlier though! I had a C-section but was very keen to get pregnancy over with by that point!

      Talk is Monday at 18:00…I should put that in the post now I think of it.

  12. sueannan
    April 7, 2015

    Congratulations on publicizing the difficulty of trying to do everything as a new mother. I remember it well. I expect there might be a few babies at IATEFL this time around. I know of at least 5 under the age of 6 months whose parents will have similar problems. Maybe we SHOULD lobby for a creche of some kind 🙂

    • Nicola
      April 7, 2015

      That’ll be interesting to see. I wasn’t aware of any last year but I think your radar is different when you’ve not got one yourself! I intend to lobby IATEFL this year. Last autumn they refused to run one and I can see it possibly needs more notice to arrange but I found their reasoning very strange/weak. There are companies you can hire to sort it all out – can’t be that hard and I bet publishers would sponsor it. It’s my project for next year!

  13. kalim
    April 17, 2015

    That’s great! you became a mom and I believe writers need to experience that as giving birth to a baby is experiencing new feelings of love and affection and a mother’s love is after all a mother’s love-the purest and the most sacred.
    Wish you many more pleasures.

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This entry was posted on April 1, 2015 by in ELT, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , .
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