Before the Term 1 school holidays, some of you may be aware that we have decided to keep the kids home even two weeks before school was officially closed due to the infamous Covid-19 pandemic crisis. During this time, I have put together a homeschool schedule which suits us really well because it was a mixture of learning and life skills, a good variety of activities, and the kids both get to do them at the same time.. with the skills level adjusted slightly to suit their ages.
After schools were officially closed and after we enjoyed two weeks of Term 1 school holidays and a good Easter break, we started Term 2 on a whole new schedule. We now do things the official school way. The teachers post daily tasks on Google Classroom, and we either create Google docs or the kids do those tasks on their workbooks and I will then take a photo and submit their work on Google classroom. Some tasks are external – on the Mathletics or Literacy Planet learning platforms. The kids have daily Zoom meetings with their teacher and classmates, and it is all part of the new normal we now have to get used to.
I have mixed feelings about this new routine. Firstly, it gets overwhelming very quickly. A lot of these tasks require my active participation and help… and I cannot seem to multitask and help both kids at the same time. Both kids are doing different things, so even though realistically it should only take a couple of hours for them to complete everything… when you take into account laziness, unmotivated behaviour, distractions e.g. food, pets, each other, the grass, the chair, noise, toys, everything… it just gets overwhelming when things don’t go smoothly. On a good day, the kids get through it and complete their tasks with only 20% fuss. On a bad day, we could be stuck for 2 hours doing the ONE task because the child is rolling on the floor crying and just refusing to do it.
I know a lot of people are saying… don’t stress about it. Do the best you can. Your kids are not going to go dumb if they don’t do ALL the work assigned. Take a chill pill. Relax.
There is no relaxing, and my sense of gratitude for the teachers have definitely heightened during this crisis. I will never take the 6 hours per day I had to myself while the kids are at school for granted ever again.
Slowly but surely though, we are learning to work out what works best for us. We originally had our home learning area set up on the dining table. Today, I realized that it just wasn’t working for me. I was feeling so stressed all the time due to the many distractions that open space came with. I was hearing my husband talk on the phone very constantly, and his voice just started to seem louder and louder in my brain, I felt like my brain was going to explode. We were right in the heart of the high traffic kitchen and family living area. I was constantly surrounded by chores staring me at my face… the laundry, the floors, the damn kitchen, everything just didn’t seem very calm and when everyone spoke at the same time, I wished I was deaf.
So today, I moved our home learning stuff into Micah’s room and set up a cosy area in his room. We are now far away from distractions, and we could close the door so the cats cannot distract us. We also can no longer hear my husband on his constant work calls, and we are facing a window with the soothing green colours of our backyard and our pretty lemon tree lol. We can have that window open and fresh air flowing through. We now have soft calm music playing in the background, and so far it has just worked so well. I am even writing a blog post because I am loving this zone!
Don’t get me wrong – I am thankful for this time I get to spend with my family. It gets very overwhelming, as you can tell, I probably said the word “overwhelming” way too many times already… but at the end of the day, we are safe and we are blessed. We have each other, we have a comfortable home, food on our table, and my husband still has his job. We are in no hardship other than the occasional meltdown I may succumb to when I don’t get to have any me time. I try to do something for myself a few times a week… either going out for a walk, or taking a long warm bath in the evening after the kids are in bed, I indulge in weekly wine parties on Zoom to “unwine” haha… and I have been binge watching trashy TV shows and finally have some time to get back on my guitar and create some music. The lack of social interactions have definitely freed up a lot of time otherwise spent at social obligations every weekend, and the fact that we have been home this whole time meant that my usual stresses of getting kids out and about to various after school activities, playdates, etc is now.. non-existent. It is a nice change, but I definitely miss my massages, holidays and restaurant outings. I guess for now, my routine involves being full-time homeschool mum, cook/chef and house cleaner. The struggle is VERY real, but I know I am not alone.. and I know every other parent is going through the same thing. Some still have to go to work, and having their kids at home and not at school makes things complicated and they can barely catch a break. Some are fighting for their lives. Some have lost their jobs and struggling to pay bills or put food on the table. In the whole scheme of things and this big mess our world is currently in, I am just trying my very best to stay positive… even though some days I just want to curl up in my bed and cry.
I guess these mixed feelings are normal. Hang in there, Kim. We are all in this together, they say. But sometimes, I just have to turn everything off and not read about what’s going on. A bit of ignorance is true bliss, so after I post this, I am going to pour myself a glass of Shiraz and put on some soothing music and be thankful that another day of homeschooling is done… and start thinking about what to cook for dinner. Amen.