Stop trying to keep things normal, because they’re not
Today is our third day home schooling and our second day on lockdown. My kids are currently sat enjoying a movie while they eat their lunch – despite it being a lovely day outside – and I’m grabbing a quick 15 minutes at my laptop while they’re happy.
Is this normal? No.
Is this structured learning? No.
Am I bothered? No.
Everywhere I look at the moment there are parents desperately trying to do it all and I have an open secret for you. You simply can’t. Not without sacrificing your own mental health that is.
We all need to just stop for a minute and just look at what we are trying to do. Is it possible to home school your children and keep them engaged for 6 hours during the day? No of course it’s not. Is it possible to work from 9 – 5 while you have a handful of kids running feral? Nope, I’d love to see you try. Are we all able to whip up freshly produced meals from scratch for breakfast lunch and dinner? If you’ve found a secret supply, then please let me know!! And is it possible to stay sane in amongst this chaos? Yes, it is, but it means finding what works for you.
For me that means planning in the evening. Less lesson planning and more identifying a list of games and activities to do with my 3 and 5 year olds which I think they will enjoy. Not only does this mean we don’t do the same thing every day, but it also means I always have something up my sleeve ready for when they get bored and want to move onto the next thing.
At the end of the day, I have to work too. That means that they need to stay engaged by something else – to be honest – they will end up fighting. No one wants that. Learning based activities really work for us while mama is in the corner spinning enough plates to keep a small circus in business.
On the other hand though, it also means sitting them in front of a film with a snack if I need to. Sometimes you just need to take a phone call or dial into a video conference at work without a naked butt running past the screen. Does this mean you’re prioritising work over your child’s education? (I’ve seen that written so many times in the past few days!) No of course it doesn’t, it means you’re prioritising them by ensuring they continue to have a home in which they feel safe and secure. It means you take all your commitments seriously and it means you will have more time for cuddles afterwards.
For us it also means being flexible. If your kids are academically minded and enjoy traditional learning techniques then go for it! Enjoy it while it lasts. But if it means that they’re done by 11am and just want to cuddle up on the sofa with a movie, if you can – embrace it. If you can’t pile on the snacks. Do this guilt free. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, you need to just try and do it to the best of your abilities.
Don’t forget this is a massive change for them too. Little ones who know something is wrong but don’t understand what, as well as bigger ones that understand too much and are afraid. First and foremost we are parents and guardians and we need to not lose sight of that under our new home school teacher status.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that we really need to stop trying to keep doing things as normal, because the fact of the matter is that things just aren’t normal right now. Embrace that and you will immediately feel so much better. We are human, we have limitations and we just need to learn to exist within them for now.
That and of course to say home and wash your hands! That kind of goes without saying. Stay safe and stay kind. We will get through this.