As I type this, my son (he's three) is running, screaming happily, around our kitchen island while 'Who let the dogs out' blares from a speaker.
My daughter (she's 5) is hard at work in her zoo: a bowl of leaves and mud, several hapless shongololos and an unfortunate gecko that I will have to set free soon.
This will all last another five minutes, then she'll come inside and demand a different song. Probably something from the Frozen soundtrack (God forbid).
They'll argue over their options, then come to me for a snack.
My husband is in another endless Zoom meeting.
Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, this is our normal day.
It's the Easter long weekend, and I'm working, because by day 17 (is it?) of lockdown it doesn't really matter anymore. Work and home have blended into one, and time doesn't make sense anymore.
But this isn't the message I sat down to write. I actually intended to unpack my feelings on homeschooling, or more accurately considering the situation: crisis schooling.
I'm seeing many posts on social media, and emails and messages to Parent24, from parents feeling the pressure to suddenly become full time teachers, while also maintaining their full time jobs remotely, while in actual fact now also effectively being forced to become full time stay-at-home parents.
There's a good reason I chose my career. Why I chose to work, and why I didn't become a teacher.
My personality didn't change overnight, as South Africa went into this unprecedented lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of this novel coronavirus that has taken the lives of thousands around the world.
I'm grateful my kids are still little, they aren't writing exams this year and they don't have to pass their grades, because I wouldn't be able to help them.
So my heart goes out to those parents who are trying so hard to help their kids stay up to speed academically.
I also feel compelled to say: Stop.
For one, not many South African families have the resources to connect to school remotely. Not everyone has a device to spare, data, and the technical or academic knowledge to help their kids learn remotely.
Schools who attempt to assign marks to kids now will essentially only be grading privilege: marks allocated according to a student's access to the internet, a printer and other such pricey resources.
Resources which are also currently unavailable due to lockdown trading restrictions.
However long this lockdown lasts, one thing is certain: when our kids go back to school they will all be behind the schedule. And not just in this country. Many other countries are facing the same uncertain future for the classes of 2020.
All these children will have to catch up, somehow, and they will all do it together.
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How long you spent teaching them long division at the dining room table won't matter.
But how they remember this time is up to you. Will they remember your stress and anxiety? Will they remember feeling like they're missing out and falling behind? Will they remember being afraid for their future?
Please, have faith in the strength and resilience of our children.
Use this time instead to teach them the things you already know.
How to make pasta (I warn you, it's pretty messy). How to sew on a button. How to wash dishes and do the laundry.
It's a good chance to teach them to pull their weight, which is a skill they'll need as they grow up.
Bake bread, plant seeds, devise jokes, build a tower of toilet rolls... they don't care, as long as they're doing it with you.
The kids just want to feel secure, safe, protected and loved.
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I'm not doing the best job of this right now, myself, I admit. I'm pulled between a job I love and a family I love.
We're cooking everything we eat from scratch (I'm desperately missing my mom-in-laws wonderful homecooked meals), trying to keep up with the laundry (it's mostly pajamas) and the endless dirty dishes, while keeping the kids happy and stimulated, while also ignoring them so we can focus on work.
But whether you're trying to hold on to your full time job, remotely, or worrying about impending unemployment and bankruptcy, while trying to school the kids and stay on top of the housework, it's important to remember that we will come out of this, together.
And we don't want our children to bear the scars of this pandemic for years to come.
If you're really struggling to stay positive through this, you can find free resources to help here.
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