Short answer? I didn’t. Not at first anyway. It was, and still is, a slow process.
Many parents and carers have found themselves in the unenviable position of being both parent/carer and teacher as kids are off school or nursery and businesses are following government advice and staff are encouraged to work from home. Its a difficult task trying to work and get kids to do anything remotely school based. Many people are being furloughed or waiting to see if they are going to be furloughed and worrying about paying mortgages or rent, putting food on the table for their families and such like which add to the stress and worry of everyday life during lock down.
There are so many people already living hand to mouth, payday to payday that one little blip can send finances reeling and then we’re in a position where most of us really don’t want to be. I have realised just how much we, as a society, don’t save for the future or have the ‘rainy day fund’ as I refer to it. I may be generalising but many people I’ve chatted to have said they haven’t any extra put away and are living payday to payday with huge debts and overdrafts to contend with too. I know I’m one that isn’t really in a position to save and have found it particularly tight, having to cut down on a lot of things cancelling subscriptions and other unnecessary direct debits. I know I am one of the lucky ones so I’m not after your sympathy here, I have a support line in my husband who covers the key bills but given that any money I do earn goes towards the extras now that I lost all my contracts immediately the schools and colleges were told to shut I lost ALL of my income. I couldn’t even get furloughed initially as I am employed by an umbrella company who were in talks with the government as we are classed as zero hours contractors. What I have managed to get has been peanuts, but at least it’s something and might just pay for a bit of fuel for the car. This has made me consider how I manage my money better in the future, so much so that I’ve downloaded the book ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George Samuel Clayson and it’s long I grant you that but it makes a lot of money sense. Well worth a read if you can get your head into it.
I have had my own battles with my two kids, mostly on a daily basis and yes I’ve been tried and tested to tears but just as we’re starting to come out of lock down I’ve finally cracked it! Only a few weeks too late but hey, so what I have achieved a ‘Yes! fist pump moment!’.
I initially made the mistake of trying to set up homeschooling to be just like school. BIG FAIL! I am a school teacher and find it hard to get out of the ‘must be a teacher’ mentality. Of course I’m not a teacher at home I’m Mum. My kids don’t, and won’t, ever see me as anything other than Mum so trying to be teacher just simply was’t going to work. After a while of trying various strategies found by hours of trawling the internet and following Facebook posts, I got to a point where I just sat my kids at the table and had an honest conversation with them. You know the one, the ‘Ok, I’m done, I don’t know what to do or where to go from here’ conversation. However, credit where credit is due, they did listen and they did have a really grown up kids talk with me. We decided on focusing on one of them in the morning and the other in the afternoon or as soon as the first had finished their work and then we would work on a project, usually something grabbed from the internet, or free time fun play after. I found out just how much my kids love gardening, baking and science experiments which was an eye opener. My son has such green fingers, he seems to be able to grow anything!
I also found that having a Smart television helped as I could ‘beam’ the kids work to it from the laptop and they like playing teacher which is a really effective way of getting them to learn something. My daughter loved doing ‘Phonics with Rosie’ on the big screen and my son loved putting presentations together about what he’d learnt that day. It was brilliant seeing their enthusiastic faces as they played teacher. This is a strategy I’m going to continue to use with them when I want them to practice their schooling over the summer. We all know that kids lose a little of their sharpness over long holidays away from school and six weeks is a long time, so I’m aiming to make it easier for them when they go back especially as we’ve lost so much school time due to the pandemic.
Of course I fretted and worried about how much my kids would be put back by not having a school based education like they’ve been used to, and yes it was a little easier when the little one went back and I only had one to cajole on a daily basis into doing at least one something! Reward charts are my saviour! But now they’ve both gone back I know that they’ll be ok, we have the summer to do a reading challenge and some extra writing practice but I know that as long as my kids are happy and safe and we try to stick to a sort of ‘normal’ they’ll be fine.
I know that some of the ideas that I found whilst surfing the internet won’t work for us in any way shape or form, however I do know there are some ideas that I can take forward and use for personal use in the office my hubby has commandeered! His Man Cave we call it now. There are noticeboards and tally charts that I can use for keeping me on track and not just the kids. I’ve printed off posters and learning tools that the kids like to use so will be continuing with those for September mostly courtesy of Twinkl the school resources website (Note: I do pay a subscription for this provision) so I know they are tried and tested and they are readily used in the classroom so the kids are used to the layout. There are lots of good charts, posters and such like on places like Etsy and you can find a ton of them on Pinterest if you look in the right place.
There are still many worries and stumbling blocks to come at this strange time, but the one thing I have learnt and will say to you is this, whilst you might not feel it right now – we are going to come out of this eventually and you will be Ok, your kids if you have them will be Ok, we are living this together as a nation, as a world and it will pass. Don’t strive for everything to be perfect, we can’t do that right now lets just settle for being Ok for the time being.
Take care, stay safe