Needless to say in that time, working from home was an occasional benefit to juggle the work life balance of being a working Mum; when the kids were sick, to make it to open evening or because, erm, well, that’s about it really.
Dad Muddling Through has been wfh for 2-3 days a week for several years now, and so the house is well equipped for a wfh set up, well, for one of us at any one time anyway.
But who could have ever envisages that chairing a conference call whilst having pens torpedoed at your head would become a norm in 2020. Unable to mute, because you are talking, and having to just keep going for total lack of any other option.
And that has been our reality, just like many, many more parents who have been navigating the murky swamp waters of working whilst home schooling, or at very least, supervising their children (ish).
I must acknowledge that for many, many people, they are facing some pretty dark times financially given their inability to work from home, and this post isn’t to detract from their situation, it’s just some light hearted observations from ours.
I’ve been mega lucky to be working reduced hours for a temporary period, which makes the juggle ever so slightly more manageable for us (getting the work done is another matter). But, for 4 hours, three days a week, it’s every man for himself.
The early days of ‘lesson planning’ the night before have pretty much gone out of the window at week seven, and if the kids do anything which is not you tube, that’s basically a home school win.
With one child in Reception, and one in year three, the workload isn’t mega. But with one daughter with an insatiable appetite for work sheets who has been set work like ‘go on a treasure hunt for numbers around the house’ or ‘bake biscuits and encourage counting of spoons etc’ it’s kind of tricky to get the juggle right. All I can say is thank god for Twinkl and it’s free resources.
For eight year old Tigs, doing school work is like getting blood out of a stone. Whilst she should in theory be able to work a little more independently, if only it were that simple. She needs her own cheerleading squad to get her through one question before needing a break to recouperate.
Luckily our school seems to have a fairly relaxed ‘do what you can’ approach. Which is a bonus given some days, doing what we can can be summed up by binge watching horrible histories.
And so, whilst we pause for ten seconds after every yell from downstairs, and wonder which one of us is on the more important call to intervene, or when we finally get the kids to sleep we have to log on and catch up with the bits we missed, we will keep going.
We may have to down tools to deal with a pencil stabbing incident (yes that happened today), and we may be dodging meltdowns like Coronavirus in a bid to maintain the peace, but we are doing it, somehow.
Our employers know our situation and we are grateful to feel supported, if self depreciating in being unable to commit to our normal standard. Every meeting has to finish five minutes early for a quick check in, and it has become common place for the girls to pop in to video calls to showcase their artwork. Or bite marks.
This time is not easy for working parents, trying to muddle through.
Granted we are not frontline NHS risking our lives, and for that I am incredibly grateful and humbled. But it’s okay to admit that we are all facing our own mini battles, our personal situation challenges, and remember to be kind to ourselves and each other.
It’s been hard to switch from stressed from work to Mum to teacher in the time it takes to walk down the stairs, so I’ve made it my goal to just go with the flow. Break up the mood swings with walks in the rain or throwing all the barbies in the bath.
Despite having moments where my inner voice is telling me I am failing on all counts, my rational mind is pushing me to believe I’m doing the best I can, and that is more than enough. As Tigs recites to me all too often, in the way kids do with phrases they hear you say, “It doesn’t have to be perfect Mummy”.
Thinking outside the box and giving the kids some quality time rather than fight over a maths worksheet is so much healthier for all of our minds, our energy and our wellbeing.
We may not come out of lockdown in top set or ready for promotion, but if we can all come out smiling, sane and in one piece, then I’ll take that.
It doesn’t have to be perfect.