As schools begin to return, I have had some time to reflect on the last few weeks (20 to be precise!) of how our home lives entirely changed overnight. Becoming a full-time homeschooler, continuing to work full-time whilst maintaining parental boundaries has been quite the challenge to say the least. Whilst it’s been quite an insightful experience, personally for me it’s time for my child to go back to school.
It all started so well with organised timetables, scheduled breaks, exciting experiments and Spider-man lunges with Joe Wicks to start the day. We were full of enthusiasm and thought it will only be for a few weeks at the very most. After all, I would be only be homeschooling one child, how hard was this going to be? The first few weeks went well, we even made it into the school newsletter, I thought ‘we’ve got this’ apart from the odd eye roll, we were thriving.
The novelty of ‘school’s out for summer’ for a 9-year-old was about to wear off and the reality of lock-down soon began to sink in. There have been slammed doors, tantrums, refusals to do pretty much anything other than play on the Nintendo switch and far too many days in pajamas. With everything used from bribery and the dreaded phrase every child hates ‘I’m going to have to call your dad if you don’t get on with your work’ – yep that’s right I had to go there.
I’ve worried relentlessly about the screen time; the school have been very organised but with all activities on Google classroom there hasn’t been much time away from the laptop. I have worried the online activities are not sinking in as much as the classroom activities would but what is the alternative? Our pre-Covid screen time rules have gone out the window, and left us negotiating time allowed for ‘free-time screen time’ versus allocated screen time for schoolwork.
During the pandemic I have learnt to pick my battles; core subjects have remained non-negotiable with others fading away. I can safely say my neighbors are pleased the French-horn was short lived. But the constant football and basketball (accidentally) being kicked over the wall into their garden I’m sure is wearing thin.
Parenting can be challenging at the best of times and the current pandemic is inevitably making parenting more stressful. Being a parent, teacher, and friend, has been incredibly difficult to maintain. I’m constantly questioning am I doing the right thing? Is my child happy? Somedays it feels like all I do is tell them to stop doing this or that or re-do their work again, whilst questioning is this what you produce at school or a special treat for me?
Balancing work and homeschooling are a challenge on their own, personally it is not something I would choose to do again. When my other half leaves for work each morning all jolly, all I can think is ‘take me with you!’ I personally do not feel qualified for this teacher role and welcome the time when I do not spend my evenings planning and researching tasks for the next day to keep my son immersed. As the weeks past trying to maintain professional at work was a thing of the past. Once your son pops into Zoom meeting to show the team his painting of a rainbow Heli-fish (Helicopter fish of course) it’s safe to say, our once bliss work-home balance has completely merged into one.
Reflecting on the last few months also gave me time to appreciate the fun memories we have made and cherish the time we have spent together. I have more appreciation for my son’s teacher’s than ever before, and I am fully prepared to apply for a place on ‘are you smarter than a 10-year-old.’
By Rachel O’Shea – Mental Health Advice Caseworker
Posted on: 8th September 2020