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Lockdown #3: Home-Schooling Stress

Dr Claire discusses the home-schooling and gives some advice on coping through the school closures. 

Our school’s are closed to most students during this latest lockdown and parents have been asked to facilitate learning at home. Even if you are the most organised person, trying to do this whilst working from home is undoubtedly stressful.  Couple that with the usual support networks not being available, and there’s a lorry load of stress and pressure right there.  Trust me, you are not alone in feeling the heat.

I’ve been asked by many parents about how best to manage the pressure of home-schooling, so here’s a few bits of the advice I have shared.

1.       Recognise – you didn’t ask for this.  You have not made a choice to ‘home-school’; i.e. deregister your children and provide them with fun-filled, comprehensive learning opportunities.  At best you have been asked to facilitate some distance learning for your child, whilst already managing your own ever-changing lockdown workload.  This is difficult and challenging and time-intensive and emotional and…  <insert feeling here!!>  Any and all of your reactions to this predicament are normal, whether you are relishing the challenge or struggling to want to get them out of bed in the morning.  Hang in there.

2.       Prepare – Is there a space you can dedicate in your home to this?  Can you create a make-shift work-station for them/you? Do you need to borrow equipment from school?  Is your WiFi connection working or can you use mobile data?  Do you need to speak with your employer to discuss flexible working options around schooling demands?  A little extra background preparation can make the day-to-day run a little smoother and feel a little easier.

3.       Routine – have a daily routine that works for all of you.  Some parents find getting up earlier and doing some of their own work before schooling helps, some have little ones who are up at the crack of dawn.  Treat it like you would any usual school/work day.  Get up, get dressed, have breakfast by a certain time.  Maybe have a walk before you sit down at the computer.  Don’t be tempted to stay in your pyjamas as it won’t signal your mind that it is ‘school/work time’.  Also think about your evening routine and how you signal work/school time has finished?  Perhaps going for a walk to aid the transition again?  Work out signalling to your mind the end of one task and the start of the next to enable more of a work/life balance.

4.       Don’t compare – you might think everyone else is doing amazingly and handling this like they are an actual qualified teacher.  Don’t be fooled.  This is a stressful time for all parents who have their children at home and all you can do is your best.  Try not to be so hard on yourself, you’re doing great.

5.       Time out – this is more important now than ever.  Make space in your diary to have time out for you and time out for your children.  You need to find a bit of space from one another where possible and allow time to recharge and do something you enjoy.  When living in such close quarters, we pick up on one another’s emotions, so it is important to be aware of your emotions and how you manage them, and model this emotional literacy to your children to help them manage their emotions. 

I hope this provides some useful food for thought.  

Most of all, I implore parents to treat themselves with compassion at this time, you are doing the best job you can with what you’ve been dealt.  Trying your best will always be good enough in your children’s eyes.  You got this.