How am I going to survive another half term in Lockdown?
Is anyone else feeling conflicted about the impending half term holiday? I want it to be a break for all of us rather than SSDD (Same S**t, Different Day), but how do we achieve that while we are still in Lockdown?
As the half term holiday approaches, I have all the usual feelings of tiredness after almost 6 weeks of the school routine, work, etc, mixed with relief that we get a week off, sprinkled with a tiny dose of apprehension about how we will fill a whole week without bankrupting ourselves.
Of course I now also have the added cocktail of feelings that only a global pandemic can create. The huge mound of exhaustion after 6 weeks of juggling home schooling 2021 style, my own work, keeping everyone fed and watered and maintaining something that resembles my sanity; mixed with a giant dollop of relief that we have no home schooling to do next week; stirred up together with a deep seated dread about how on earth we will get through another whole week together in Lockdown with nowhere to go, nothing to do and nobody to see.
There was me thinking Lockdown was so last year, but here we are again facing yet another school holiday stuck at home. I am aware of the relief that there is no pressure to do all the things that the children can think of to keep them entertained, but another part of me feels at a loss as to how to fill a whole week without the distraction of learning tasks.
Although my fantasy is that half term holidays with my two beautiful girls will mean days spent chilling out watching movies, lovely long lie-ins, baking yummy treats, going for walks and ‘enjoying every minute’, experience tells me this is far from reality. A more accurate picture of half term with my kids involves the following:
- Refereeing sibling arguments
- Early mornings and late nights (=longer hours ‘on duty’)
- Endless requests to play Barbies
- Thinking up excuses why I can’t possibly play Barbies
- Drinking lots of coffee
- Providing bottomless snacks, drinks and other edible treats
- Dealing with tantrums
- Cleaning, tidying, washing, cooking. (Repeat x infinity)
It’s probably not surprising that I’m not jumping for joy with that little lot! And don’t even get me started on bedtimes. They are bound to be a special kind of bonkers with lots of late nights and grumpy days that follow. I can hardly wait.
I think I always find holidays tough even without Lockdown. I was lucky that I did lots of extra curricular activities as a child, such as swimming, hockey, choir, Brownies, school clubs, etc so term time was pretty packed full. When it came to the holidays, everything stopped.
Although there was freedom in this, I remember feeling anxious about the huge expanse of time that opened up in front of me especially at the start of the summer holidays. I suspect the contrast between my term time schedule and the holidays felt pretty stark to me as a child. I found security and safety in the school routine so when that was gone, I felt a bit lost.
I believe routines provide me with stepping stones to help navigate my day. Without them, it can feel as though I am leaping into thin air without being certain where I am going to land or simply treading water, waiting for something to come along and rescue me. I worry I will end up sinking into the swamp of having nothing to do. Or at least, that’s my fear.
I have always struggled with setting my own routine. It’s probably part of the reason I found having a newborn baby so hard because there isn’t a routine (until you create one) and it feels like the days (and nights…especially the nights) will never end. The days feel a bit like a vacuous space only punctuated by feeding, changing and nap times. Hang on…that sounds exactly like Lockdown!
It may be no accident that I became a teacher when I left university. I found great comfort in the predictability of the school day so it makes sense that I would find my career within this familiar space. I know I found it very unnerving when I started my private practice as there was no obvious structure to my week so it was up to me to shape it which felt tough at first.
Homeschooling has left me wondering whether I imagined my 13 years of primary school teaching. Quite how I was able to manage 30 children for 6 hours a day and teach them anything is mind boggling to me right now when I can barely keep my children focused on any learning activity for longer than 25 seconds.
I have no idea how I managed to divert my attention between 30 children when I can barely maintain focus on the 2 small people in my kitchen, let alone contain my frustration when they still don’t know how many tens and ones are in 34.
It’s like they do it on purpose. As soon as they see I am attempting to focus on one of them, the other reminds me that I have in fact got two daughters and must always give both equal attention. Is it any wonder I feel constantly split in 2?!
Perhaps I was getting something right back then as I definitely don’t remember children ever shouting “This is soooo boring!” at me. This home schooling gig is really tough!
So how are you all coping? I’ve heard lots of people struggling with maintaining their super Mum status with some even taking off their capes (shock, horror!) but that’s not a problem for me. I am no super Mum. Just a mere mortal trying my best to navigate this crazy shizzle called parenthood. The toughest job I’ve ever done with the worst rate of pay and least holidays. Oh and the training was dreadful…there’s not even a manual!
I’m seriously considering changing my name. “Mum” rolls of the tongue way too easily. Perhaps Cruella might be better (and definitely more appropriate at times). Or maybe something really complicated like Persephone. I don’t think either of them would be keen on saying that more than about 5 times a day.
I feel hopeful that half term will at least provide a change of focus away from the dreaded home schooling even if it does highlight how limited our options are right now. My intention is to reduce my expectations as much as I can; it may not be the half term of my fantasies, but it doesn’t have to be the half term of my nightmares either. Somewhere in between might be good enough for now.