The challenge of homeschooling and home-working in a pandemic

Coronavirus diary: lockdown week four

Up until this week, my lockdown has revolved around looking after the kids, making sure Mr Maven has space to work and we have enough supplies to stay indoors indefinitely.

Last week all that changed when I took on a significant recruitment project, to which I need to devote the next six weeks. During the Easter holidays, this wasn’t a problem. The kids crawled into the Xbox and stayed there for two weeks. Apart from eating, sleeping and their government-sanctioned half-hour of exercise, they lived in a virtual world while I beavered away on my laptop in the kitchen.

Now, they’re back at ‘school’, so I’ve joined the legions of parents who are juggling with the hell that is homeschooling while working from home.

Timing is everything

I’m not complaining that I have work to do. I am delighted to have a purpose beyond domestic duties. But timing is everything. Mr Maven requisitioned my small, but perfectly formed home-office four weeks ago. My workspace is now the kitchen table, which I share with two colleagues, aged 11 and 13. And I’ll have a few things to say at their next performance review. They fall over each other in their rush to complain about failing technology. I am bombarded with academic questions, pleas to stop work and demands for food. It’s not dissimilar to my last office job.

My new, not so perfect routine

I spend the morning helping the kids, planning meals, shopping for groceries online, laundry and cleaning the house. After lunch, I research and interview candidates while the kids get sucked into their screens in the living room. I cram as much as I can into the space before the daily government press briefing, when I down tools, cook dinner and crack open the wine.

If my boozy behaviour is anything to go by, we’ll be a nation of alcoholics by the time we’re released back into the wild. I know I’m not alone in reaching for the bottle with increasing desperation at the end of a long day in lockdown.

I asked one of my best friends who is also working from home while homeschooling kids of a similar age if she had any humorous insights. She said ‘There’s nothing f**king funny about trying to work and home school’. Quite.

The usual rules don’t apply

I wrote about the pros and cons of working from home not six weeks ago. How naive I was then. Within the claustrophobic environment of family isolation, much of that advice doesn’t hold up. For example, my dedicated workspace has been sacrificed; my routine is out the window and I haven’t worn makeup for a really long time (the exception was the day I took this photograph to illustrate all the multitasking).

Working from home while homeschooling, while in a coronavirus lockdown? The usual rules do not apply. I don't have all the answers but I share your pain.

Dress and jacket from Weird Fish – gifted. Details at the bottom of this post

And now for some positivity

Enough moaning. How about some positivity? Here are some lovely things that have happened over the last week:

The Tween and I made music together – I played the glockenspiel while the Tween played the guitar. We made up a song, which will never be heard beyond these four walls, but we enjoyed the moment together.

I visited my self-isolating parents with their grocery shopping, and although we sat two metres apart and couldn’t hug each other, I know how lucky I am to see them face to face each week.

My neighbour moved in just before lockdown. We’ve been getting to know each other on WhatsApp and when this is all over we’ll pick up from there. Thank goodness for technology.

When I have a moment to myself, I colour. It takes the focus away from any anxiety, my mind floats away and I remember to breathe. Here are a few examples:

Working from home while homeschooling, while in a coronavirus lockdown? The usual rules do not apply. I don't have all the answers but I share your pain.

Above all, we’re all where we should be. We are well and safe and staying home. I hope you are too. I am grateful to the NHS and all the key workers who are keeping the country going.

Here is one of my regular coronavirus features:

Good news from around the world

Ikea has shared the recipe for its famous meatballs, until now a well-guarded secret – so we can make them at home.

Similarly, Pret a Manger published its recipe for chocolate chip cookies. We’re all chefs now.

Following in the footsteps of Captain Tom Moore, who has now raised over £27million for NHS charities, 90-year-old Margaret Payne is climbing her stairs 282 times – the equivalent of a small mountain. At the time of writing, she has raised £280,000, smashing her £10,000 target.

A Spanish couple, married for 65 years, have both recovered from coronavirus and were released from hospital together.

Lego has modified some of its molding machines to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in Denmark.

This week, human testing for a vaccine will begin in the UK. It’s one of many possible vaccines in development.

Do you have any good news you would like to share? How are you feeling this week? Perhaps you have some insight or advice for home-working home-schoolers? Please comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Much love, Vx

Working from home while homeschooling, while in a coronavirus lockdown? The usual rules do not apply. I don't have all the answers but I share your pain.

[Disclosure: Dress and jacket were gifted by Weird Fish in exchange for a bit of love on the blog and on social media. Thank you, I love them! Weird Fish is a small, ethical business who would appreciate your support, particularly at this difficult time. They deliver quickly.]