Just as I never thought I would evaluate my parenting based upon the handing out of biscuits, neither did I think I’d see the even keel our little family's life rocked as it has been. I think all parents will relate – my husband and I feel pulled in even more directions than two busy working parents usually are. Still, nothing a good digestive can’t fix, right?
We all miss school for so many reasons. For me, I am beginning to really miss the daily chunks of time to myself (and at this point, I class working as time to myself. We're not talking spas here!). My working day is generally about 1000% more peaceful than being with the kids, much as I love them. Back in good old days, pre-Covid, I could decompress at work from a wild ride of a morning with the breakfast refuse-niks and have a genuine smile back on my face by the time the afternoon school run rolled around.
So, back then, I’d miss them while they were gone. Instead, these days I need to let angry outbursts (theirs), tears and tantrums (theirs…sometimes mine) pass quickly so we can resume learning asap. Sometimes I win at this and sometimes I really don’t, but I am becoming an absolute expert at silent big, deep breaths.
Overall, home school has been a real opportunity to reflect on my A* vs must try harder parenting. Here’s my thoughts.
Not sweating the ‘small’ stuff. I’ve put small in inverted commas there as that will mean so many different things in different families. For me, am I stressing that my children are consuming more TV and biscuits than usual? No. It’s not ideal…but, it is ok. It’s not forever and occasionally they watch documentaries on the NatGeo channel, so careers as botanists probably await. You may remember that I made a commitment to ‘happy’ being our number one priority at the outset of all this, and sometimes, right now, happy just means calm. It’s enough to have a calm and peaceful day and if that means more TV that they would typically be allowed on a normal school day, then so be it. We still have set time limits on screen time, but it’s pushed way beyond the pre-Covid house rules and no-one is feeling guilty about it.
This also applies to their school work. I’m really proud of how they continue to try hard, but if they don’t finish something, I really don’t sweat it.
Being completely and utterly proud of my boys and making sure they know it. Make no mistake, this time is tough on kids. Really tough. There are moments when I’ve looked at their little faces and there’s something definite missing in their usual sparky energy. I’ve noticed this more in the last week or so, as this all become more real and more permanent. Their time is being filled, often productively, but perhaps lacking the unleashing of mental, physical and emotional energy that young kids really need. Under the circumstances, I am so proud of how they continue to try their best. Absolutely. I’m not ever going to let them forget how brilliant they have been in this first big challenge of their little lives.
Employing some non-traditional, perhaps questionable, parenting strategies. Now, if you’re planning to write a parenting manual at some point, you may wish to grab a pen and pencil and start taking notes here. This week I hit upon a brand new parenting strategy and frankly, it worked REALLY WELL.
You see my nine year old son, Finn, really doesn’t enjoy drawing. Just not his bag. Of course, it’s a struggle for art teachers to deliver the big projects at home, so his art lessons have been quite drawing heavy of late. This week, it all just got a bit too much and the frustration burst out of him. It’s very unlike him to get angry, but he was. He was also upset. That morning, he’d worked really hard at all of his other lessons so, remembering my ‘happy’ mantra, I said
“Stop, please… just stop. I’ll send the teacher a note. You don’t have to do this”.
Even that didn’t work. He really likes his art teacher and wanted to finish even through the frustration. So, there he sat, drawing with tears running down his cheeks, much to my dismay. I racked my brains what to do to help. He’s nine, so what’s going to really make him laugh and break him out of this mood? I wondered. Then it hit me. He’s nine…this is easy. Notepads at the ready, everyone...
“Finn, I want you to shout the rudest word you know REALLY LOUDLY”. He gave me a sideways glance as if to say “really?” …I nodded. “Go on…hit me with it, then I’ll say it with you, REALLY LOUDLY”.
Dear Reader, his rudest rude word was considerably ruder than I had anticipated and us both shouting it together meant that it was overheard on my husband’s video call in the study. BUT…the funk was broken and we got the hot air balloons drawn and painted and the day ended smiling.
Maybe I should have put this in the A* section? Something to consider…
Jenny Mollon, WSA Senior Editor, Biscuit Enthusiast and Home School Mum.