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Parenting

The “Joys” of Home-Schooling

Frances Spencer-Barton
3rd Feb. '21

As if 2020 wasn’t quite bad enough we begin the new year with a fresh lockdown and another attempt at homeschooling. 

Parents across the world steady themselves for round, after gruelling round, of teaching, working, parenting, and back again, with the mere whiff of respite in between.  

And if last time is anything to go by then we’re in for a bumpy ride. Nightmares of homeschooling 2020 still haunt our sleep.   The terrifying teacher updates with endless links, portals we’ve never heard of, and passive-aggressive What’s App parent groups. Echoey dreams tell us to log-in to Zorkle, download Bamboozle, enter the Bazinga portal, do not pass go, do not collect 200 pounds. 

But dear parents, this is not our first rodeo.  We’ve been here before, how hard can it be?

VERY. Very is the only answer to that question. 

For me, it’s not the teaching part exactly that I find the hardest.  Although I know plenty of mums who would disagree, for their own completely valid reasons: Their child won’t focus at home, they are trying to teach three kids, there aren’t enough devices, to name but a few. 

And it’s not necessarily the working from home part that I struggle with.  Although that does come with its own unique set of challenges –  no transition time, no boundaries, no getting dressed for work. 

But it is the combination of trying to do both of these, highly intensive and all-encompassing, roles together that poses the biggest concern.  It’s like Tetris, no matter how I twist and turn, those two roles just will. not. fit.

So it was a relief to read something recently which said ‘We are not working from home, we are parenting from work”.  And that’s exactly how it feels. 

Can you imagine in the pre-covid world your kiddos bursting into your top floor, city-centre office space because they need the loo?  Or refusing to leave your desk until you supply them with an endless supply of sugary snacks?  

Never before in history has so much been expected of us – work full-time, keep the home, nurture the kids and now teach them as a full-time job.  The weight of these expectations crushing our spirit. 

But then, something dawned on me.  Somewhere between Bridgerton starting and the Joe Wicks farting drama ending, I had a realisation:  It’s not that we’re failing at this, it’s that it can’t be done. 

Mother Pukka, the Instagrammer and Flex-campaigner, put it perfectly when she said “there are 8 hours in the working day, 6 hours of school, and 12-hours of parenting wrapped around that, mostly falling on female shoulders”.  

Trying to excel at both, in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster. 

However, all is not lost.  There is humour in this situation for sure.  There’s listening into your children’s’ Teams conversations just for laughs. Watching your five-year-old achieve more technological dexterity than you have accumulated over a life-time.  And finding solace in Tik Toks and Reels of other mums just trying to make it through the day. 

You know the ones right?  MammyBanter and Sophie Craig for example, providing a slice of hilarity in an otherwise anxiety-ridden day. Brightening our feeds with videos of despairing woman, barely, just barely keeping it all together. Finding support in seeing ourselves replicated in the Banana Bread mum of 2020 compared to the Banana-In-Bread mum of 2021.  

What these videos are so great at, is providing a welcome reminder that at the very least, we are all in this together. 

Frances Spencer-Barton is is founder of LOOKLOOK, a brand engagement agency with a specialism in photo technology. Frances is Mum to two girls aged 8 and 5 and is living the home-schooling dream.

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