I’ve just made myself feel really rubbish. It’s the first official day of school closures due to the Coronavirus outbreak and I’m already beating myself up for not doing enough. I’m sat feeding Til off to sleep and having a scroll through Insta – the usual – and I’ve been bombarded with other mums posting everything they’ve been up to today with the kids. (I would like to stress that the current time is 12.18pm before I continue typing the rest of this post.) So, I have so far seen posts from parents who’s children have already completed work sheets for maths, reading, arts and crafts, been outside on scavenger hunts and played shops with real money and real snacks. Lots of people got their kids jumping around for PE with Joe this morning on YouTube, this is one activity I can also tick off the list. Everything else though? No, we haven’t done anything educational so far today.
The importance of not comparing yourself to other parents during school closures
I feel like everyone is going at the homeschooling thing with their feet pressed down to the ground on the accelerator while I’m lagging right at the back, still getting seat belted in for this bumpy ride. Seeing everyone far out teacher/mum me over on Instagram has made me feel like a failure so I had to stop my scrolling thumb in its tracks and write this blog post instead.
I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way? If you haven’t already achieved a full school day worth of work, or done any at all, by midday then don’t worry – nor have I! It’s ok to already have succumbed to screen time, it’s ok if you haven’t so much as found a pen and paper, let alone asked your child to practice their hand writing on it. It’s ok if the paints and PVA glue are still firmly tucked away in the craft drawer. The children are going to be at home for four weeks at the very least, you’ve got time.
It’s also really important to remember that the kids aren’t at home because teachers have suddenly decided us parents could do a better job. Schools are closed to help stop the spread of a deadly virus that is on a killer rampage across the globe. Our children are home with us so we can keep them (and others) safe, they are not home because we suddenly have to teach them everything they were learning at school.
Social media makes it so easy to compare yourself to others and these comparisons can make us feel inferior and like we are letting our kids down. You are not doing your children any harm if you don’t have a colour coded timetable stuck to the fridge. My approach to ‘home schooling’ is going to be very laid back. Why? It’s not because I’m lazy or because I can’t be bothered. It’s because this is a scary, stressful and totally overwhelming situation and I don’t want it to be any more challenging for myself and my kids than it already will be. I have a list of things we are going to do, there will be reading and writing and worksheets and arts and crafts and everything that everyone else is doing, it just won’t all be today..maybe not even this week.
I don’t know about you but my brain is full of the news at the moment and it’s stressing me out no end. I don’t want to feel more stressed and if my six year old doesn’t want to do something and I’m trying to make him then I can tell you now, that situation is going to get really stressful, really fast. I’m not saying I’m not willing to deal with some challenging behaviours, I’m just saying I don’t want to be upsetting my child unnecessarily at an already upsetting time.
If you are one of the mums who have had your kids learning all day already and have a star chart and a schedule and maybe even a blackboard set up in the living room then please don’t think I’m judging you. I know you’re not posting everything you’ve done to boast or make others feel inferior. You’re just sharing your home schooling/self isolating journey and that’s totally your rite to do so. I think in situations where people are struggling with comparison, it is up to that person to distance themselves from the thing that is triggering them. For me, today at least, Instagram has pressed my ‘compare and despair’ button so I won’t be looking at it as much for the rest of the day.
It is important for us all the remember that none of us have been in this situation before. None of us know the best way to do this self isolation/social distancing/homeschooling thing, we are just trying our best to follow guidelines whilst keeping ourselves and our children safe. Now is not a time to be beating yourself up over the fact you haven’t done as much home learning with your children as others have. This is the first day of missed school, it’s fine to ease yourself in gently and take baby steps into your new life as a teacher and mother. Now, when anxiety levels are high and positive mental attitude may be running low, you need to be kind to yourself.
As with every little thing in parenting, do what feels right for you and your family. For me, right now, the thing that feels right is cuddling my baby close as she finishes her feed and then I am going to go play on the floor with the boys. Be kind to yourself mama, please.