Raising children is hard. We all know that, right? Well, now it’s even harder, thanks to coronavirus and the lockdown. Suddenly hundreds of thousands of parents around the world have found themselves faced with the prospect of home-schooling their children for the foreseeable future and most of us are not exactly thrilled with the idea.
We had got used to someone else taking the load off us for a few hours each day and dealing with the hard questions like, “Why is the sky blue?” and “Who is your favourite Roblox character?” At weekends, we could shift them onto play dates or take them to the park or a softplay centre to burn off that excess energy and it was amazing. Now we’re stuck with them 24/7 with no end in sight.
Don’t get us wrong. We love our little darlings. Truly, we do. And, there is no doubt that we will cherish many of moments that arise in lockdown. But there comes a point, normally just before tea time when you’ve heard the words “he’s a poo-poo head” for the 50th time, when we become pretty desperate for a return to normality.
1. Kids Never Stop Eating
Your kids only had breakfast an hour ago and they’re already asking for snacks. In fact, your daily schedule mostly revolves around snacks. Every activity ends with the words, “Can I have a snack?” You’re pretty sure that they don’t have this many snacks in school so you try and limit them as much as possible but, after three weeks in lockdown, endless requests have worn you down and you eventually start giving them a snack just so you can have five minutes peace to prepare more snacks.
2. Kids Are Pretty Disgusting
By now we’re all aware of the importance of hand hygiene and this has really hammered home just how grim our children are. Whilst all the grown-ups are scrubbing their hands raw, children are picking up sticks off the ground and licking them. Whilst grown-ups are fighting over the last hand sanitiser in the shops, children are licking windows. Whilst grown-ups are disinfecting the windows with Dettol, children are licking each other. Kids are basically little plague-spreaders.
3. Class WhatsApp Groups Are Not That Helpful
You may have thought it would be useful to be part of a class WhatsApp group before lockdown, but now you are seriously regretting it. Firstly, there’s the parent who seems to have gained a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Facebook who keeps sharing nonsense, such as how you can catch the virus just by looking at a patient on the TV.
Then there is the parent who is part of a multi-level marketing company who keeps trying to get you buy her dodgy products with the promise that it will definitely cure Coronavirus. Finally, there’s the parent whose kid wins every competition at school who keeps sending images of her amazing craft creations that she has done with her children, such as the life-size replica of Florence Nightingale made with paper mâché that they made to support the NHS. Suddenly, your child’s tiny rainbow picture with the colours all mixed up seems a bit crap in comparison.
4. No Six Year Old Needs To Know What A Subordinate Clause Is
Your child’s teacher has worked hard to set work that can be completed at home and most of it seems pretty straightforward but then you get to the grammar section and it’s clear that you actually know nothing. Nothing at all.
A few years back a certain education secretary who shall remain nameless decided that kids need to learn this stuff from the get-go. No one is entirely sure why he decided this beyond his affinity for the 1950s, but teachers and parents have been despairing about it since.
Grammar is important, yes, absolutely, as without it meaning would be lost. But in the National Curriculum there is so much focus on identifying and labelling grammatical terms that it has sucked the joy out of writing and is putting children off the subject of English all together. Since you have managed to become a fully functioning adult without knowing what a suffix is, then try not to stress about it during homeschool.
5. It’s Only Funny When Other People’s Children Interrupt Your Conference Calls
We’ve all seen the videos shared on social media of people getting interrupted by their children during interviews or conferences whilst we all work from home. Hilarious, right? But when your four-year-old bursts into the room, completely and inexplicably naked, screaming that she is not a poo-poo head despite what her sibling says, then, strangely, you don’t find it that amusing. Unlike your spouse, who was supposed to be in charge of the kids but became mysteriously absent for just enough time for the naked child to make a break for it.
6. Turns Out, Screen Time Isn’t That Bad For You
Us parents have been anguishing over screen time for years. We read reports in the news about how too much screen time can be damaging to our children’s health. We compared notes with other parents about how much use was acceptable. We probably had different rules from those around us, but most parents generally agree that screen time should be limited and certainly not a free for all.
Well, not anymore! Now it’s definitely a free for all and our kids can’t believe their luck. You let them loose on their screens whilst you work because it’s the only way you’ll get anything productive done. When you get a weekly screen time report for your child’s device you now congratulate yourself for the 45 minutes that they had last Tuesday when they weren’t actually on the thing.
If you’re still feeling that perpetual parental guilt over screen time then stop and read this article from Unicef, which offers some great advice.
7. Craft Activities Are Over-Rated
Expectation: A beautiful rainbow collage created out of recycling.
Reality: A half completed collage that looks like someone just threw a bag of rubbish onto a piece of card. PVA glue mashed into the carpet. PVA glue spread all the way up the stairway via little fingers. PVA glue in your hair.
You might have been inspired by the 3000 posts shared on social media about wonderful lockdown craft activities, but not everyone is cut out for crafting. Don’t get upset if it doesn’t work out. Save the money that you would need to spend on craft supplies and spend it on chocolate instead. Your lockdown will be far more enjoyable.
8. Instead of Panic Buying Loo Roll, You Should Have Bought a Trampoline
In the run up to lockdown you bought 168 loo rolls, 20 bags of pasta, and 6 bags of bread flour even though you have no idea how to make bread (evidenced by the fact that you failed to buy yeast to go with your flour). However, now lockdown is here you realise that what you actually should have bought was a trampoline for the garden. All around your housing estate is the sound of other children bouncing on trampolines, burning off energy, and most importantly, not pestering their parents.
Sadly, it seems that every other trampoline-less parent has reached the same conclusion as there is now a countrywide shortage of trampolines, unless you want one that is bigger than your house. Maybe you could make some sort of play structure out of toilet rolls instead.
9. Soft Play Centres Are Under Rated
No parent enjoys a soft play centre. They’re grubby, full of shrieking, unsupervised children, and the accompanying café serves up terrible coffee and enough sugar to fuel a child to leap into space. However, after several weeks in lockdown you’re getting a bit fed up of using the words “For the love of God, will you please stop jumping off the sofa and onto your brother?” and you find yourself longing to be sat in your local soft play centre. You’d even accept the coffee since it would mean that someone else was making it for you.
10. Teachers Are Under-Rated and Under-Paid
Day 7 of home schooling; the entire class has been expelled for bad behaviour and the teacher has started drinking on the job. An internal OFSTED style inspection has discovered significant failings in all areas. Turns out, teaching children isn’t that easy, and if you hear the words “I hate English, English smells of poo, it’s the worse thing ever!” one more time you are definitely going to resign from your job as a home school teacher, just as soon as you can figure out who you need to send the resignation letter to.
Teachers do an amazing job to get our children to not only listen, but listen enough that some information gets absorbed. It’s a trick you are yet to master at home and lockdown has certainly made you much more appreciative of this superpower.