Many parents across the country have been placed in the position of feeling like they need to be their child’s teacher with the current lockdown restrictions. Yet so many of the people I work with will say that they are really struggling to manage the household, making sure the children actually do the work that is being assigned to them, keep themselves in a job while working from home, as well as not having the normal, every day outlets that they used to have which allowed them a break from the homefront!
The first thing I will say is this, you and your children are more than likely going to be okay. Their educational level will get back up to speed, their mental and physical health will get back to “normal” levels, you will all get to hug your loved ones and spend quality time together…and you will get back to enjoying your favourite pastime, as will they!
Secondly, you are not alone and while this doesn’t take away your stress levels or the difficulties you are facing, there can be some comfort in knowing that you are doing the best that you can..and you are, you’re doing the best that you can right now, with the knowledge you have.
Below are some simple pointers to remember when it comes to saving your sanity and not just locking yourself in the downstairs toilet to get some sort of break from the madness.
- You’re not a teacher – Okay, so you may actually be a teacher, but for most of you reading this, you’re not and it’s important you don’t expect yourself to know everything or have all the answers your children might have about the school work they have been given. It’s okay to say, “I’m not sure but we can look it up, or we can ask your teacher!”. As the wonderful Dr. Mary O’Kane has pointed out, this is not homeschooling! Homeschooling is a choice taken by those parents who have researched what’s involved and made the decision to teach their children at home. The majority of us haven’t chosen this, so take the pressure off yourself and remember, you can ask for help from the teachers in your child’s school, as that is what they are there for!
- Look at setting up a timetable for learning, if the school haven’t given one – Again, this isn’t something that you necessarily want to do, but it may help both you and your children to have some sort of structure to the day. Also, your children may agree to the timetable, but then continuously complain or moan about it, but do what you can to try and stick to it, especially if you are working from home too. The other thing to do is write down the consequences you might have to put in place, should your children downright refuse. This way, if you need to put a consequence in place, you’re not scrambling around in your brain, in the moment, trying to come up with something, that you possibly won’t be able to enforce anyway!
- Don’t expect your child to work as hard as they do in school – This is not a regular school day, so your child doesn’t have to be hitting the books for the six, seven or eight hours they would normally be in school. Look at what is manageable for your child (and you!!) and put plenty of breaks in. Generally I would think, if your child can work for 40 minutes at a time with a 20-30 minute break, that’s pretty good going.
- It’s okay if there is extra screen time – Your children can’t do the normal playing they would do. Their sports have been curtailed and they are in the house more than ever before, plus you have to get work done, house work done, cooking done, cleaning done and all with a house full of people. If your kids get more time than usual on a screen, it really is not the end of the world. Get them out a couple of times a day and manage things as best you can.
- See what everyone in the house can do to help – If you have a partner or parent living with you, look to them to take on some of the workload when it comes to the schooling. This can be challenging due to work schedules, but if you can do a tag-team, this can take some pressure off everyone and you don’t feel like you’re always the bad cop!
- Plan meals and downtime and exercise for everyone – Okay, the lockdown is horrible, but it does present an opportunity for more fun family time.
- Engage with the school – If you’re really struggling, contact the school, explain the situation and get some advice or help. The majority of schools will do what they can to help parents out.
As I said, it’s tough but we will get through this and most of us will be okay. Take care of yourself and that way you can take care of your children, as best as you can.