Sunday 7 March 2021

Back to School (Again)

Schools go back tomorrow, apparently for good this time. I think there will be a few bubble closures before it’s all truly over, but hopefully, the schools will stay open from now. I have mixed feelings about this. I can see that it’s good for schools to reopen; I know some kids will have had a tough time at home and that many people are feeling burnt out, but I’ll be sad to return to an almost-empty house tomorrow. 

I’ve loved having the kids at home this year. I know I’m in a lucky position in that I’m self-employed and can focus on the kids and not try to juggle a stupid number of commitments. I know that not everybody has been able to do that. And please don’t think I’m claiming to be some kind of earth mother. I’m not. I have cried in the kitchen and wailed that I can’t go on like this anymore. I have silently prayed to the covid gods for schools to reopen just so that I can hear silence, instead of arguing, once again. 

We didn’t get home from school. We didn’t go to the class zooms or upload daily work to the class dojo. My children have most played and argued. They have done bits of work. Ebony has done a maths exercise every day and some English. We haven't done the work set by the school. I can’t cope with the printing or the screen time, so we just used workbooks. Ember has learned to read, but she hasn’t perfected her cursive writing. She hasn't learnt how to negotiate the complex social side of the school. I think they’ll be fine, and I hope that they have enjoyed our time hanging out at home over the past twelve months. 

This past year has been such a strange time. Stressful, anxiety-inducing, unchartered, but the lockdowns have felt like a gift in some ways. I’ve had the opportunity to spend extra time with my children, and I feel very grateful for that. We’ve learnt how to slow down and how to simplify life. We haven’t been rushing around or trying to please other people. It has been all about us. 

We’ve figured out how to live in harmony, how to read each other’s moods, and how to hold space for each other during moments of sadness. In the past, a crying child was always a challenge; I must stop them from feeling sad. Now, I know it’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to cry because you miss your friends or worry about going back to school, and I don’t need to say or do anything to minimise those feelings; I just need to be there while they feel them. This is probably the lockdown achievement I’m most proud of.

I think Ettie will miss her sisters when they return to school tomorrow. She is used to a noisy house and lots of chaos. It will be strange to have her all to myself. I will be missing two babysitters, which will certainly be noticeable when I want to get anything done. I’m glad we were able to have this time as a family while Ettie was young. It has been nice for her to get to know her sisters properly and be so involved in the baby stage. I hope, though, that she will enjoy waking from naps naturally rather than being jolted awake by the sound of another sibling argument.  

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