Submitted by Clare Matysovea
Following the recent government announcement related to social distancing and staying at home, we held a family meeting to talk about how we thought we could arrange things. The agenda was extensive, and everyone seemed eager to talk and plan!
We're a family of five; my partner and me plus three kids ages 17, eight and four. Our home is relatively small, but we do have a big garden, and we’ve made the shed into a temporary "office"; it is actually a really nice and peaceful place to work.
Our "schedule" includes regular break times, and we're doing a pretty good job of sticking with it. This means that we're all stopping and eating together which is great and something we weren't able to do so often before.
Our morning "school run" slot has been replaced by "daily exercise" and so far we have gone to the local park and played football during this time.
In the morning we have three hours of semi-structured activities two more in the afternoon. Some of these activities are for structured numeracy and literacy while others are much more informal and include things like helping to make dinner and gardening.
We’re also lucky because a number of my siblings are teachers; one in particular has been coordinating an online one hour ‘lesson’ every other day for our two younger boys and four other sibling’s children and another friend of the family’s child – so about 8 children in total. That lasts for about an hour, and it’s provided a great opportunity for the children to interact with each other online. In fact, the kids have really enjoyed some assigned tasks that provide an opportunity for them to talk about at the next ‘lesson’ like a show and tell. It has broken up the day a bit.
At the end of the "school day", the children just get back to their normal routines ...
Our new routine has us spending a few hours a day focusing on the children while not working and not focusing on the stress and difficulties. There have, of course, been stressful moments, but I am thankful that our workplaces are allowing us to work flexibly and the boys' schools, while providing set work, have not put lots of pressure on parents. Instead they are emphasising well-being over formal education during this time.
I am really thankful that we have our garden space, and that we are able to share the work with each other. I'm really proud of how the boys are coping. These are very strange and stressful times, and I'm conscious we live most of our days in a bit of a bubble as the Covid-19 pandemic is having huge a social and economic, as well as health, impact. As with other families, we're adapting our lives to a new "normal" in very abnormal times.