I don’t know about you but the last 2 weeks have been hard on lots of levels. The reality of working from home isn’t quite what I had in mind. I haven’t been waking up raring to go and PE with Joe doesn’t seem to be getting any easier as we stagger, bottom achingly, into week 3! Further disappointment lurks in that there’s no sign of the Insta-vibe in our house yet, either. You know the shots of a laptop and a lovely cup of frothy coffee in a minimalist Scandi chic home office! I haven’t managed to take any of those. Frankly our house is chaos on a grand scale. As I type this right now, there’s cake mixture on my keyboard, Lego all over the kitchen table and nerf darts on the grass lying next to the daffodil heads, they have just mercilessly decapitated. I am doing a lot of deep breathing. And for someone who is a life long member of the “everything in its place” club, it’s fair to say my head has been on a gradual simmer for days.
Whoever said “Just use the ZOOM APP” or “We Skype from the sofa” twice a day to check-in, must have been off their proverbial. The reality is, some of the team don’t want to be seen on video, others and I include myself in this, are constantly fending off their own offspring with the “just give me minute” line. My hair is usually wet and scraped back. I tried the smart top, comfy bottoms approach and have been wearing the same comfy bottoms for so many days now; I don’t think I’ll ever fit into my smart ones again. There has definitely been office chair induced spread. Or is it the constant snacking? I do blame my children for that though, what is it with all the snack breaks? I’m sure we send them to school with a banana and a water bottle and yet at home my 7 year old puts away a round of cheese on toast about 10.30 and the same about 3. It’s a constant buffet. Don’t get me started on the washing up pile! Thank goodness my friend Hannah put out an invitation to join a coaching circle on a Sunday night. A whole hour of uninterrupted me time, where I can share my ups and downs, draw on the wins and get clear about my focus for the next few days, or minutes, ahead.
This is not an easy ask and I think working from home should most definitely be renamed, being at home, trying to survive until tea time and fitting in a bit of work if you can. Not quite so catchy though, is it!
All in all, I think we need to cut ourselves some slack. This whole affair is different and it’s not an easy one to win. We are living in times of extraordinary flux. We are surrounded by uncertainty and humans don’t like that. To be more specific, our brains don’t like it and when a brain is under threat it hops into overdrive and starts behaving like a predator, rather than the mighty organ protector, it’s supposed to be. So here are a few SIMPLE suggestions I have taken away with me as I try to do my best one plate spinning, swan swimming, ball juggling, day at a time.
Working from Home with kids of a certain age!
Unless your children are like I was as a child (compliant, introverted and a big fan of homework), forget trying to work and teach them at the same time. I’ve divided up the day and decided 4 or 5 half hour bursts of work for me are far better than a whole day of jumbled up “mumking”. This is my made up word for being mum and working at the same time. Or not as the case may be! It always ends in tears. Usually mine first.
When people tell you “you’ll be fine with home schooling!”
The pressure to teach my own children is immense and I know all the other teacher-parents out there will be feeling the same way. Whilst I haven’t been in the classroom for a few years, I am fairly sure if we did a child swop, I would be able to handle your brood and learning would occur. The fact remains I am not my own children’s teacher, I am their mummy. And that job is quite enough of a responsibility in the current climate, even without my grown up job. So rather than sweating about the online resources and chasing them round the kitchen with a Biff and Chip book, we are going for accidental learning and seeing what possibility might crop up in the day. Today that possibility consisted of cleaning the bathroom with a bit of measuring, 2 loads of washing and painting hardboiled eggs. They learnt, they laughed and I didn’t need to crack open the sauvignon by midday. It was good enough.
Screen time bribery and the violent withdrawal
Finally, if like me you are a bit on the fence when it comes to tablets and iPads, haven’t a clue what Roblox is or understand the appeal of watching children open kinder eggs on YouTube. You are not alone. I think this is part of the generation thing. What I do know is that prizing an iPad from the hands of a fraught 7 year old after his half hour is up can be like lighting the blue touch paper, whatever time of day. So I took a tip from my good friend Joanne and not only give the clear 5-minute warning to shut down. I also go and sit with my little monster and ask him to talk me through exactly what he has built, collected, won and overcome in his 30 minutes of hedonistic bliss. It is a stroke of genius from a lovely friend and means the device can be extracted and “put in safe place” until the next time. He feels a sense of belonging and we can glide into the ironing like Torvill and Dean.
There it is. It’s not rocket science but what usually is? The house is still a tip, I look pretty rough and the juggle starts again tomorrow. On the plus side, the boys are fed and watered, I’ve managed to keep in touch with my wonderful team and there is still time to do an hour of yoga before bed.
Well, one thing at a time.
Stay safe, stay well and please stay in touch.