As we returned to work in the new year, we had a glimpse of schools continuing. However, the return to school was brief - to say the least. There is a monumental amount of uncertainty about our working lives and our kid’s education, with the coronavirus causing school closures again. It’s meant many of us are working from home (trying!) with our angels around ready to distract quicker than we can say “Peppa Pig”!
We’ve all had different experiences with homeschooling, juggling work priorities and organising feeding, bathing and sleeping times, all to start again the next day. Most parents know the pain of trying to juggle a work zoom call whilst also usher out, quieten down, or deal with, our children.
We might be thinking can we continue to work remotely while dealing with boogies, fighting, boredom, tantrums, trying not to tread on lego and our kids vying for our attention?
Well don’t panic, here is some lived advice, from the parent’s at Beingwell:
Homeschool set up
“We can’t expect our kids to work well with no setup!” says Duncan, father of two - “we prep the night before, printing off worksheets, organising files they’ll need for easy access, so they can crack on with a little less supervision.”
Children in remote learning need a workspace, as much as us adults working from home do. It will enable the kids to do their work and learn well, and possibly a little more self-sufficiently!
Define the times
Whether it’s free time, work time or screen time, sit down and define what these all mean for them throughout the day, creating a bit of routine for the family. And schedule in mealtimes so they know when the next break will be without wreaking havoc through the house for a sandwich at lunch!
Engage in their learning
“Without checking through his work, my 11 year old son tends to just do whatever it takes to get it done, ignoring the need to learn from the work, present it well or achieve the best he can,” says Duncan - we’ve all heard the chorus of children tunefully complaining “School’s boring!”.
Check the kids work with them, with gentle encouragement, or they may well do the bare minimum required!
Older children can help the younger ones
“My eldest, 12 years, has been IT support when the connections went down. My 9 year old has been helping the youngest, 5 years, with verbs and nouns, and they both partner up for their activities, especially PE,” says Kelly who has 3 children currently being homeschooled, all of different ages.
With more than one child in remote learning, and trying to work alongside, we might feel like we don’t have enough hands to keep up with the balls we’re juggling, but the kids have hands too!
Get the grandparents involved
Those tech-savvy grandparents out there could help out with Zoom lessons while we’re working, or even just answer a quick question on a phone call! They’ll be missing the kids too so some face time with them may be welcomed (initially at least!)
Our Beingwell parent’s also had some tricks up their sleeves to help keep calm:
It’s quite unreasonable to think we can work from home, homeschool the children, keep the house clean and prepare meals, all the while trying to remain calm. It simply won’t always be smooth running - unless we’ve got a secret power!
Duncan’s secret power last week was to simplify mealtimes “we got a HelloFresh order so we didn’t have to spend time thinking about dinner and then cooking it, it was all there ready to go!”
Kelly’s secret power when her dishwasher broke (nightmare!) last week enlisted the children’s help “the kids got to do the washing up in their free-time - and the worst behaved of the day got to put the dishes away too!” A sneaky incentive for good behaviour there too!
Start the day with exercise
Include some fitness or movement in the morning, ticking off some of our own fitness goals, and promoting movement for the children. Kick the day off with some quality time, fresh air and a boost of endorphins for all!
Stay off school’s social media
As with any social media, scrolling through the school’s is unlikely to fill us with joy. Make time to intentionally check for news and updates but as James says “stay away from it, seeing other parents and children’s successes is wonderful for them but is only going to make those of us struggling actually feel worse!”
Take it easy
Some days might be filled with productivity, learning and achievement, for us and our children, but not every day is going to be a winner! “If Teams keeps kicking you off, no biggy, if the kids don’t quite get it yet, don’t worry, and if all the work doesn’t get done, at least we tried our best!” says James.
“And in an ideal world: get stronger broadband and live with a qualified teacher!” says Duncan - we can but dream right?
Reality Reminder: Firstly, this is solid and real advice but it doesn’t mean it’s going to fall into place for everyone. These tips and tricks can be used to our advantage, but when it doesn’t all go to plan just take a deep breath and think ‘Oh well, we tried, there’s always tomorrow’.
Secondly, we’re still in a pandemic, compassion for ourselves and kids is required right now. We need a few more breaks, timeouts, and deep breaths at the moment - take them and take as many as needed to see us through.