Love (and education) in the time of Corona
Updated: Apr 27
So obviously at the moment, Covid-19 is the hot topic on everyone's lips. However, given that I was on the point of nervous breakdown on Friday about this at the thought of home-schooling a 14yo and a 4yo, whilst simultaneously trying to do my own work, I decided that I needed to take some of my own advice. I spoke to friends who reassured me that the kids would be fine, as would I - I needed to be kind to myself as well as them. As a former teacher, I can honestly say I would rather face a class of 30 year 11s than try to teach a 4yo to read. The 14yo only needs sporadic help, but trying to find activities to occupy the little one that doesn't involve sticking him in front of the TV for hours on end, but equally, allows me time to do my own work, is difficult. However, as my very wise friends reminded me, these are exceptional circumstances in exceptional times and actually, giving myself the time to work is perfectly acceptable and doesn't make me a bad person. My anxiety levels have also been helped by the fact that contrary to what was possible on Friday, it's now looking likely that my teacher husband will be at home for at least some of the days to share the burden. (They have been further reduced by the fact that he came home with toilet roll today!)
Today was the first day of attempting to do phonics with the little one and in anticipation of his inability to focus on anything after lunch, I had a timetable neatly planned:
8am-9am: phonics and reading practice
9:00-9:30am: PE with Joe Wicks
9:30-10:00am: yoga for kids (at his request)
10:00-10:30: break for drink and fruit
10:30-11:00: colouring rainbow and seahorse for the rainbow trail and for his pre-school trail
11:00-11:30: break for a biscuit and another drink
13:00-15:00: reading, Alphablocks, Numberblocks
I didn't expect any of this to go to plan and was fully anticipating a horrendous day where my husband came home to find me rocking in a corner clutching a bottle of gin while the boys were doing an MMA fight somewhere in the house.
However, despite having to say, 'Stop messing about and concentrate' approximately 100 times and resorting to 'If you were doing this with Mrs Holmes or Mrs Olley, would you be talking to them like that?' on several occasions, it actually went far smoother than I'd expected and I even managed to get some of my own work done during the day. Arthur also got to sing happy birthday to his friend, as our pre-school Mums have set up a WhatsApp group so we and the children, can keep in touch with each other while they're not in school.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting every day to be as smooth as this one was - far from it - but the fact that the first one happened without me having a nervous breakdown and with both children alive and (relatively) happy is a definite bonus!
The other thing that it made me realise was that actually, whilst I firmly believe that the education of my children is of paramount importance and I will be working my socks off to make sure that both of them continue to make progress while they can't be in school, the most important thing in this time of uncertainty, is that they are at home and safe with me. My husband, as a teacher, is, along with his colleagues, taking care of the children of key workers to ensure that they are able to provide vital services. As a result, he obviously has to leave the house. This means that he is more at risk than the rest of us and so he has taken it upon himself to become responsible for everything that we need from outside the home. Last year I had a nasty dose of Bronchitis and had a cough that lasted six months, which has only gone in the last few weeks. Consequently, he's not allowing me to leave the house (I don't like it, but I understand his concerns and would be doing the same if the shoe was on the other foot). As we're trying to support a friend who is self-isolating, he's doing bits of shopping for her as well (I'd been doing this before I was told to stay at home!).
I looked at my boys today as they were working at the dining room table and had a moment of 'Wow, I love these two'. Then they started shouting at each other the minute I went to make a drink and normal service was resumed, but we still had that brief moment!
I've lost my main source of income as a result of this virus, but I'm lucky that my job only pays for extras and my husband still has his. So far, everyone I care about is either healthy, or only suffering with minor symptoms and so if this is as bad as my 2020 gets, I'll count my blessings and be grateful that we came through it.
Stay safe and if you can, stay home.