You know whats really annoying me at the moment? All the ‘shoulds’ that I’m seeing flying around.
- Parents “should” be homeschooling
- Parents “should” have a routine
- Parents “should” set their kids up with something before doing their own work.
Ok, look, hands up if you have ever raised children within lockdown settings, been personally responsible for their education AND wellbeing AND had to maintain a job/work too?
Oh would you look at the sea of tumbleweed and absolutely no hands. This is completely unprecedented and not just here in the UK or western world, but globally. No one has ever been expected to do all of these things and yet, here we are, with that expectation.
A life coach friend of mine once told me that the word “should” is a scolding word and should be banned from our vocabularies (actually, she said banned from mine because I use it relentlessly on myself, but stick with me here), and now more than ever I agree with her. I’m sick to death of seeing endless reams of parenting “experts” on my TV or social media telling me that I SHOULD be doing this lockdown parenting thing one way or another. Susie Verill wrote a great post about this earlier this week and I couldn’t agree with her more. I truly detest the term “parenting expert” because you really are only ever an expert in your own children and how to parent them, which has never been more poignant that now.
I wrote a few weeks ago about why we have a homeschool schedule and how a lot of people will tell me it’s madness, it’s pointless, I shouldn’t bother etc. To us, me in particular, it is a lifesaver. I crave routine, I thrive on it. I’m flexible and adaptable because that is a huge part of my job, but I like routine and I LOVE to be “busy”. I am the anti-relaxer, which means that we had a long weekend over Easter weekend and then carried on working through the “holiday” and every day we have a routine. It’s not mega strict, when things aren’t going well, I flex with it, but the days start at 9am and we finish between 2-3pm.
As I type this my kids are doing “quiet time” which consists on them using school approved apps or watching school approved videos on their ipads. They can also do jigsaws or similar, but I set them a task and they aren’t given the option to not get on with it.
Is it perfect? No. Do we have daily whinges and “I don’t want to” (from me, lol), yes. ABSOLUTELY. My view is that I’m not here to be their pal, I’m their mum and in charge, so we do this my way and my way involves a routine. Interestingly, they also thrive on routine and seem to have settled well into the daily slug.
Does this work for everyone and am I telling other parents they *should* do it my way?
If you don’t thrive on routine, if you’re finding everything overwhelming and what is working the best for you is to do a couple of sporadic worksheets, maybe some home tasks like laundry or baking or whatever, then the last thing that will be helpful, is someone with totally different needs and ideas telling you that you should be doing things this way or that way.
You might be a big crafter and your kids are making playdough, you might be cuddling on the sofa and watching films, you might be in a routine like me, but the one thing that you won’t be doing is doing this whole thing wrong.
To tell parents in this time that they should be homeschooling one way or another, they should be in a nice little routine, whilst working and running a home, whilst being responsible for the emotional and physical well being of their children (and themselves) is setting them up for failure and the ULTIMATE in unsolicited advice. Parents have to find their own way in all of this, just like everyone else, and lockdown is going to look so different for everyone. Whilst we are all facing lockdown together, we aren’t all in the same boats. Some of us are in a yacht, some in a dingy, some in a fishing boat, some in a … catamaran… I’ve run out of types of boat… but you get my point. We will all deal with this in different ways, and for some people, slotting their family into a homeschool routine will be fairly simple, and it will work… and for other people, perhaps someone who has been furloughed and faces desperate uncertainty, the added stress of being made to feel that they aren’t doing the best that they can for their children is ludicrous. YOU are enough.
So I say to you, as a mum with a routine and a schedule, that I’m not “doing it wrong” and neither are you. WE are doing this in the way that works for us, and remarkably that might take a bit of trial and error because that is life. We aren’t in the same boats, but we are enough. We are going to get through this and what we do in between? That SHOULD be no one else’s choice but ours.