A recent column for Wokingham Today:
I’ve been homeschooling Maia for two weeks now and I can say with the utmost certainty that the experience confirms what I already knew deep down: I am not, and will most likely never be, a teacher of young children. I’m sure my daughter will agree that when it comes to careers, I can rule this one out. I don’t have much patience during more conventional day to day life, so teaching Maia for a minimum of three hours a day, whilst looking after our five month old, tends to make me a little…tetchy. Or more accurately, to put it bluntly: sends me right over the edge.
We squeeze lessons in to the moments Leo is either asleep or settled in his activity chair. (So when I’d otherwise be doing luxury things like showering, putting on laundry or having a moment to myself.) I say “lessons” but it’s really just me hitting play on a pre-recorded introduction to a lesson, reading through a Powerpoint presentation from Maia’s school and instructing her on what she needs to do, then, god willing, helping her. This is all good and well if Leo is settled. If not, there’s a lot of “Read to me whilst I do his nappy!” “Don’t worry about your spellings, we’ll correct them later!” “You KNOW what 50p + 50p is…YES YOU DO!!”.
I try and get out for a walk with Maia once a day, and to the supermarket, alone, once or twice a week. The latter has become something of an odd sort of treat. I think of it as: “What can I buy that I don’t normally buy that would make this shopping trip different to all the other shopping trips?”. I ring my partner to ask if anyone’s Birthday is coming up. I pick up magazines I don’t normally get like “The World of Interiors” because “we need colour inspiration”. (For £4.99 we absolutely don’t but it felt like a necessary splurge. Everything does during Lockdown.) Especially food. Instead of just buying the usual sugary treats, I now pick up desserts I wouldn’t normally buy unless we were hosting – they’re designed for gatherings of 4-6 – and I make a conscious effort to work through them myself. My partner has conveniently decided to start taking care of himself so I am left completely alone to devour my vices. It’s not quite as fun when going it alone but I am happily committed. This week I’ve successfully picked away at the majority of a Belgian chocolate cheesecake and spooned my way through a strawberry trifle. I put my excessive cravings down to exclusive breastfeeding, but really I’m just greedy and weak.
For the sake of maintaining what little sanity we have left, we try and avoid consuming too much of the news. We take in a short burst of the day’s headlines to keep us up to speed, and for a necessary wake up call. Sometimes we forget why exactly we’re all stuck indoors, and footage of doctors and nurses at breaking point, putting their own lives at risk to save others, serves as a reminder of how lucky we are to be safe and well at home. Homeschooling and all.