If there’s one thing that worries me right now, it’s the pressure I hear my friends putting themselves under about homeschooling. And it’s mostly women. That’s not to say my male friends aren’t worried but it’s exclusively my girlfriends who are posting online about how they’re trying to build lesson plans / find new ways to get their children engaged. This is at a time when many of them are also working. Or trying to work. Or trying to create a quiet environment where their partners can work. And worrying about their pets and their parents and whether there’s a way they could be “maximising this time” to learn a new language or master a complicated yoga move. And all I want to say to them is GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Especially when it comes to the endless worries about whether they can somehow make up for the lack of schooling.

But sometimes saying “give yourself a break” isn’t enough. So here’s my five reasons why I think you should.

1. You are not a teacher

You know how you’ve spent the past two decades building a career as an accountant or a business development exec or finally reaching the point where you can run your own business? That’s the stuff you feel drawn to and are good at. Don’t beat yourself up that you’re not able to demonstrate the joys of past participles to your kids! And even if you harbour an inner desire to switch to teaching have you ever noticed that teachers generally do not teach at the same school their children attend? There’s a reason for that! No matter how much your children love you they might not want you to be the one in charge of the whiteboard.

2. Your kids might not be missing lessons

My daughter told me yesterday that she would quite happily continue to learn online as long as she could still see her friends. She is loving the fact that she can pursue the topics she enjoys at a speed that suits her. What she misses is human contact so my job is to try to be a pleasant person to be around. After I told her I was enjoying the opportunity to talk with her more often, her reply was “I can’t believe I’m having to give you all my best conversation” – all I can say is lucky me, she’s got good chat 🙂 As for my son, he’s had an abrupt end to primary school and is thrilled that he doesn’t have to do SATs. Again, what he misses above anything else is the interaction. Negotiation, empathy and listening skills are the order of the day – no-one benefits from a shouting match about how much work has or hasn’t been done.

3. Your school isn’t expecting you to replace them

Has your local school headhunted you to teach? No! (See point 1). What has been heartening – and interesting – is that almost every communication from the schools my children go to has included phrases like “Every family is different”, “Every child will feel differently about learning right now”, “Family wellbeing comes first”, “Do what you can”. The only place I’m hearing “You must teach your children” is from other parents.

4. Kids look to us for the subtle stuff

Have you ever been caught out not paying attention by your children? Called out on stuff you tell them to do but don’t do yourself? They will be watching our reactions to this more closely than we realise. And they’ll be hearing all the swears we mutter under our breath 😉

5. This is not normal

We’ve had tears, anger, frustration, lots more “I love you’s” and hysterical laughter. This is not a normal time at all. My kids’ classrooms do not usually involve two dogs and two working parents. Their teachers do not participate in Zoom calls while expecting pupils to get on with writing a poem about idioms. They definitely have never had a 25kg dog break into the classroom and turn a rug over because it has seen a cat out of the window. (Although, that said we have heard stories of boys farting on desks, kids fighting in the corridors and teachers saying “screw this”….).

So it’s all binge eating and box sets is it?

I don’t think that’s the answer but if that’s what works in your house, what keeps everyone sane, then who am I to judge? My personal view is that to crave routine is normal, to try to recreate a classroom among the chaos we’re all living in is setting yourself an impossible task. If you do one thing this week, put “give yourself a break” on the timetable. And if you manage to do it, give yourself a gold star 🙂

Like this? You’ll find more true family stories and lighthearted looks at life in my book Reasons to be Cheerful Part II. Currently available on print and in download format on Amazon (the download is just £1.99 for the duration of lockdown – you’re welcome!).

You’ll also find more tales of family life on this blog. Here’s a recent one on entertaining your kids for free: https://tonikent.co.uk/2020/04/five-ways-to-entertain-your-children-for-free/