How has your workload been during lockdown? Have you been furloughed, or are you working at home at the same time as education your offspring?
It’s a strange time for everyone. Supermarket workers are still being relied upon to keep the food chain running, and medical staff are helping to keep us alive. Police are keeping the peace, and many others are having to leave their houses to keep our country running during this time. And others are now working at home. This may mean having to try and keep up the same level of productivity whilst having far more distractions, plus slower broadband and missing resources that you need to get the job done.
And being a home educator! As lovely as that sounds, it is not what many of us have planned for. And if we had chosen to home school our children, we wouldn’t be doing it via Google Classroom and instructions from school. We wouldn’t be trying to do our own work at the same time. We would be out visiting museums and learning about the environment. Friends would call in, and we would spend some time learning in groups.
The age my children are at means that for some of the morning, they can work without a great deal of input from me. My work has changed significantly. I’m discussing ideas with colleagues on Zoom, and arranging how we can serve people virtually. I can be quite flexible in some areas. There are less times when I need to be in specific places than there were before lock-down. However, some things just have to be done.
Working at the same time
I was feeling particularly wobbly last Tuesday morning. The kids started their work early (only so that they could finish sooner), but by 9.45 am I must have been up and down the stairs about twenty times. When my daughter insisted that this was now the time to make a wormery, I nearly wept. I had meetings arranged for 10 and 12, and something had to give. Fortunately she eventually agreed that we could do this later in the week.
I am lucky – my line manager has been amazing. I made a list of what I thought I needed to do during this time, and she has chipped a few things off. They may only be small things, but as a result I feel much more able to complete my other tasks. It feels like a Jenga tower – the blocks are small, but if you keep adding them to the top, the whole thing will crumble.
As a family, we have had to set some boundaries so that this time works for all of us.
1. The children are now working downstairs in the same room as me. This has its benefits, in addition to the negatives. One child cannot keep any thoughts in their head. They all spill out. The other cannot stop whistling. It appears that I am not the worst co-worker in the world after all.
2. No arranging Zoom meetings for 9 am. I need to check in with the kids to make sure they know what they are doing at the beginning of the day, rather than putting my work first.
3. Secondary Maths can only be looked at on Thursdays and Fridays. The other parent, the one with the Maths degree, can sort that out when he is working at home.
4. Suggest other things that the children can do if they get stuck while I am busy. If the Science experiment requires the finding of empty Pringles containers, drawing pins, PVA glue and Blu tack, it can be done another day. Choose another subject. Don’t just go on YouTube because one lesson needs some parental support.
What boundaries have you had to put in place during lockdown?
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