The announcement that schools would be closing again in England for the foreseeable future left a massive amount of people with the task of not only doing their jobs in difficult WFH circumstances but also home-schooling their children as well.
People are feeling the pressure. Research by the Office of National Statistics showed that most parents are struggling with home-schooling and over three quarters are finding it difficult to motivate their children to learn from home. Around half of parents said it was affecting their child’s wellbeing with a third of women and a fifth of men are finding it is negatively affecting their own wellbeing as well. Safe to say, it’s a very stressful time for everyone.
If you are going through this at the moment, my heart goes out to you. It’s a really difficult situation and I’ve thought long and hard about how to cope with it. Here are three tips that I genuinely hope will help you in some way.
1.1. Be realistic with your expectations
You probably started 2021 with big intentions.
4 days into the new year, with the announcement of another lockdown with schools closing, the game completely changed and things got a lot more difficult. Not only would you have your own work to do but now you would also have the education of your children to think about as well.
Remember, you are not a Marvel superhero and you’re probably not a qualified teacher. It’s impossible to do everything no matter how much you want to.
There will always be ‘that parent’ from school who is seemingly unfazed by it all, taking over the world with their global empire and giving their children an Oxbridge level of stellar education. The truth is, they probably aren’t. It will more than likely be a smokescreen that hides the fact that they are struggling just as much as everyone else.
The truth is, your kids aren’t going to ‘fall behind’, because when they fell off the education horse so did everyone else. It’s just like the race has been paused, really.
Regardless of school, you are your child’s primary educator. You always have been and you always will be. You brought them up, taught them values and massively influenced who they are today. I’d rather my kid was a good person with manners, heart and self-efficacy than a little brat who was home-schooled to within an inch of their life so they could understood fronted adverbials (or whatever) by the end of Year 1.
At the end of the day, my opinion is that if you and your children are safe, happy and healthy you’re doing a cracking job. By prioritising these three things you are teaching them a very important lesson in prioritisation of the most important things in life.
For now, provide for your family, and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by trying to do everything.
2.2. Understand the 80/20 principle
Time hasn’t changed. You still have 100% of what you had before.
The thing is, you only had 100% of your own stuff to deal with before and now you have 100% of your children’s stuff to fit in as well.
Maths lesson number one: 100% is the maximum. It means per cent, AKA per hundred. You can’t fit more than 100 into 100.
Maths lesson number two: 100% or your child’s education and 100% of your work equals 200%. You can’t fit 200 things into 100 spaces.
The 80/20 principle is based on the notion that 80% of your results come from 20% of the things you do. You wear only 20% of the clothes in your wardrobe 80% of the time, 80% of your networking success will come from only 20% of your network, and 80% of what you do only produces 20% of your progress towards your goals.
Imagine if you could identify the most important 20% for yourself and the most important 20% for your child. You could fit that into your day and if you were both achieving 80% of the success you would have normally expected to, I think you could consider that to be an incredible success in a national lockdown.
Make a list of the things you have ‘to do’ and try to identify which are the most valuable 20% of them. Start with those and if you have any spare time left over do what else you can.
If you got 80% of your work done in this period you would be doing extremely well at work, and if your child made 80% progress with their education, you should quite frankly be given a medal!
At University, 70% is the score required for a First Class Degree, and 40% is a Pass. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your kids for school work in a pandemic.
3.3. Manage your social media
Using social media in a pandemic is akin to placing a roulette bet on red or black. 50/50 win or lose. It could be a lifeline for you, or it could tip you over the edge.
There are always Facebook posts, groups and pages that will tell you how rubbish everything is at the moment, how it’s all a conspiracy, how the school shouldn’t be doing this, or how so and so is doing that. It’s exhausting.
Equally there are plenty of Instagram posts of parents giving their beautiful smiling children a nutritious lunch next to a campfire they’ve build after going for a 10 mile run and helping Mummy with her international sales call and closing the million dollar deal. Instagram is always full of people’s filtered life highlights and it seldom tells the truth. Don’t believe it and certainly don’t feel bad that your reality doesn’t match their showreel.
You could wonder at this point why I wouldn’t just suggest cutting ties with social media. The truth is, it isn’t all bad.
There are loads of really helpful resources, supportive people and things that will genuinely help you through this tough time. The trick is to manage your use of social media. I know it is tricky to see things objectively all the time but please, for your own good ask yourself whether something is likely to help you or hinder you before you invest your precious time in looking at it.
I hope that reading this has been of use to you. Good luck. You are doing a great job!