If I’m being honest with you, the anxiety I felt around home-schooling my two children, aged 4 and aged 7, was pretty intense. I feel ashamed to admit this but I said to my husband, “How will I survive this? I’m not sure I can do this?!”
The thought of being with my children day in, day out, having to entertain them, educate them, and essentially turn into Mary Poppins overnight, gave me the cold sweats.
Who even am I?
I’m a working mum. I love working. My identity is wrapped up in being an important member of a senior Executive team and I wasn’t looking forward to this disappearing. I wasn’t relishing becoming my children’s number one carer.
As I write this, I feel pretty awful about admitting this. But if the memes that have been shared in the last few weeks are anything to go by, I’m not alone in feeling this way. But then I read something that said, “You wonder why we have so many adults who feel unloved? Just look at the memes being created about adults spending time with their own children!”
Wow, pretty harsh right?! So it’s safe to say that after reading this, it made me feel even more guilty. But it also served as a wake up call for me.
Turning fear into fun
I made some decisions in that moment that changed everything. I turned the fear into fun and we are loving our home-schooling journey. We’ve learnt about Ancient Egypt, we’ve made pyramids, we’ve done experiments about how things dehydrate to learn about mummification (and I don’t care if this isn’t what you ‘should’ be teaching 4 and 7 year olds), we’ve played catch (for many hours already!) and we haven’t laughed so much in a long time.
But this isn’t where I started. I started in fear. So, if like me, you are a bit worried and overwhelmed, here are the three decisions I made to help me on this journey:
Decision 1: I will home-school my children my way
Don’t compare the way your friends home school. Ignore the women on Facebook who have home-schooled for years or the millions of home-schooling experts who now dominate your news feed (have you noticed how many adverts have now appeared by the way!) No! Do it your way.
In my home-school, we pick the subjects we want to learn about and when we don’t want to learn about them anymore, we move on. So far we’ve explored ancient Egypt, the brain, and today we are off to Japan. I figure if I’m having fun learning, so are they. The moment I feel bored, I figure they feel bored too. I picked those topics because they interest me. Maybe playing musical instruments or interior design is your thing – I’m sure there is a way to make it fun for your kids. You’ve just got to get creative.
Kids learn through playing. So play with them and don’t compare yourself to others. This week, I’m feeling pretty exhausted and so I said to my husband yesterday that we may decide that our home-school only runs three days a week. Yes that’s right. Didn’t you always want a three-day school week when you were a kid? I did. So make it happen for your kids. You’re the Principal now 😊
Decision 2: I will embrace it
I’m still having to work at the same time, so yesterday I had to leave the house to go to work to make a video call and the children stayed with my husband. I probably was only out of the house for an hour, but when I got back, my daughter grabbed my hand, told me she had missed me so much and asked me to cuddle her on the sofa. My children then fought over who could sit on my lap. As I cuddled them on the sofa, I realised that in just a few days of being at home with them, our relationship is already stronger.
This crisis is providing me quality time with my children that I never would have taken. So I have decided to embrace it and enjoy it.
Perhaps think of this time as the maternity leave you didn’t get! I had reasonably short maternity leaves; with my first child, I had nine months off, and with my second, I only had seven months off. So I’m going to make the most of this time.
This is time I will never get back. Before we know it, life will return to its usual busyness and there won’t be an opportunity to stay at home with my children. I’ll be expected to get back to work and probably to work harder than I did before, to make up for this time. So, I’m going to enjoy this moment while I have it.
Decision 3: Find some time for you too
As I write this, I’m sitting in my kitchen and it’s 5.20am. I got up at 5am to find a bit of time in the day just for me. This is so important. If you are not an early riser, let your kids lie in a little later than usual and make sure you get up just 30 minutes earlier. Make yourself a coffee and just take a moment to do whatever it is that you love to do. Maybe that’s writing (I love writing so that’s what I’m doing right now) or reading your favourite magazine or maybe it’s just scrolling your Instagram feed. Whatever it is, do it for yourself. If you do this, it will set up your day so well. I feel I’ve had some me-time before I begin giving everything to everyone else all day and it makes me a better mum for the day.
And with that, I can hear my children stirring upstairs now. That’s my signal that it’s time for the day to begin. Japan, here we come…