I don’t care what any ‘perfect people’ on social media try to imply, but we are not okay. This term of lockdown homeschooling is tough. We’re all tired, stressed, exhausted, disheartened and the January blues didn’t help either. So I asked around, and got together some tips on how to survive lockdown homeschooling your kids from other exhausted and stressed out parents. Whatever works right?!
Where are we right now?
It’s mid-February 2021, nearly 11 months since the UK went into their first lockdown. It suddenly dawned on me that our kids have been out of school for most of us more than they’ve been in school over the past year. In the UK I can definitely see that schools have kicked up the gears regarding home educating our kids, are there are far more pressure and expectations on us to assist them with continuing our kids’ education. And whilst I really do respect this, as one of the parents who complained we didn’t get enough support during the first lockdown, it is exhausting. I’ve asked around, and I know it’s not just me who is struggling so I’ve asked some other parents for their tips for surviving lockdown homeschooling.
These lockdown homeschooling tips are from desperate parents sharing what is currently working for them and is in no way meant to be a way of shaming anyone who is NOT coping. Personally, I have a few methods, and I vacillate between them because they don’t all work all the time. Do you know why? Because we’re all human. I’m a human, my kids are human, and human behaviour, emotions and lives are fluid. No one method works for everyone all the time. So please, have a read of these shared tips on surviving homeschooling, use what you think will work for you, and if you try something that doesn’t work, keep going, try something else.
Self Care Tips for Surviving lockdown homeschooling
Self-care for moms and dads is equally important as looking after our kids, but I am terrible at this. I always forget about myself until the hangry rage mummy shows up, then I remember to eat, or drink a glass of water (yes, I know, it’s been known to happen that occasionally I do drink water instead of coffee or wine).
Karen says: I’ve been trying to look after myself by doing 30 days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. It means I get a guaranteed 20-30 minutes of relaxation/exercise each evening, and it also teaches me breathing techniques which I can use to stay calm during White Rose Maths!
The hilarious but always honest Helen says: I drink wine at 5pm every day. After a day trying to homeschool a 5-year-old and keep 3 year old twins occupied (out of the way/not trashing the house) it’s the only thing that keeps me from losing it!
Becka says: For me it’s having a proper bath. I do it when kids are in bed, music, book, drinks and a treat. I use my favourite bath products and just lounge in the bath. It’s nice to just unwind and not be needed.
Emma has excellent advice: I literally make sure I have chocolate to eat every single day. It’s the only thing that seems to keep me going! I hide it away from the kids and just pick at it in the kitchen when they aren’t around.
Find A Routine That Works For You
I love this advice from Josie; it’s something I do with my girls too: We have a set end time every day. If the work isn’t done then, it doesn’t get done. If I had to keep going indefinitely, I’d break, knowing I only have to keep up the forced cheer and enthusiasm until a certain time makes it bearable.
I’m a huge fan of routine in general, especially bedtime routine, as Robbie shares: It’s easy to let slip during lockdown, but it’s crucial to get your kids to bed early. Not only does it give you some much-needed respite in the evenings, but your kids will be so much more receptive to learning if they’ve had a decent sleep.
The Social Media Effect And Our Mental Health
Kate is a wellbeing and positivity advocate and says: Journaling or any form of mindfulness is very beneficial. I also find spending time in nature really helps to calm me, and it works for my girls too (thank goodness!).
Tina makes an excellent point (that I actually do on a regular basis): Try to remember you’re not a teacher, in a classroom full of resources, with years of training behind you. It’s ok to struggle and it’s ok if your child(ren) find it tough too. Also, it’s ok to hide posts from accounts on social media, which are making you feel inferior.
Here’s a video I made a while ago about how you can take control of your own mental health when it comes to social media:
Unstructured Learning Is Okay Too!
You know what made me laugh a little crazily the other day, the fact that the whole ‘screen time shaming’ conversation seems to have just gone away! Okay, it’s not funny. None of us is proud of the fact that our kids spend even more time on screens now, not just for relaxing or having fun, communicating with their friends and family, but for learning too. It’s a necessity. But anyway … I’ll leave that rant for another day. Another great thing to note is that not all learning MUST be done just as the schools set out. There are loads of other ways to ensure your kids are learning and these are some fab alternatives and tips for surviving lockdown homeschooling.
Jodie says: I have been reading the Harry Potter series with my 8-year-old daughter. I keep pace with her so that she can chat about the characters and what will happen next. It’s useful from a comprehension point of view but is also some escapism for me! It is good for me to switch off from my phone and get into a book and knowing that she is reading along too means it stays a priority for me.
My friend and fellow ex-African ex-pat blogger Liberty says: What has helped us is mixing up a blend of homeschooling with activities the kids enjoy like baking, boardgames and crafting. I also encourage them to spend time chatting to their friends online. The fun stuff is what they are missing at the moment so I think it’s really important to make it a daily priority.
Ben says: With both myself and my wife being self-employed and needing to work throughout the weekdays we are finding it very difficult to provide more than a couple of hours a day homeschooling. If our two children don’t want to learn during the dedicated slots we provide then we simply don’t force them as it leads to a very stressful, unhappy environment. To incentivise the learning we promise tasty treats and time in their favourite computer games if the work gets done. If it doesn’t then we allow self-learning on educational games and websites. iPad games can be restricted easily with screen time and computer games are restricted with Microsoft accounts.
Advice from Real Home Schooling Parents
Vickie is one of those amazing people who I really do take my hat off to, a parent who chose to home school her children, out of choice, long before the enforced homeschooling that so many of us are now having to try to manage. She says: I have been home educating for four years now. My very best advice to all homeschooling parents is to remain calm and be kind to yourself. Hitting academic targets really isn’t as crucial as you are programmed to believe … during these crazy times all that matters is that you and the children are safe, happy and as relaxed as possible.
Education is all around you – not just in books. It comes in cooking, shopping, lego … even gaming. Today we made an apple pie, created, tested and wrote up about a sundial, as well as enjoying a bike ride and a YouTube art tutorial. The kids are stimulated and happy. And I feel like I have done well by them without exhausting myself. If I’m tired and grumpy then that’s no good for them at all. You got this Mums and Dads.
If you are homeschooling a kindergartner, veteran homeschool mom and certified educator Kim Sorgius has written a detailed post about the topic. She shares insights and tips for building homeschool curriculum for kindergarten and teaching the relevant subjects. You may be able to find ideas that will work for you and your kids.
Exercise and Fresh Air is Key!
Vicki is a teacher too and she says: As a teacher and homeschooling parent, my advice would be to be gentle with yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t get every single piece of work done. These are strange times we are living in. Try to get some fresh air every single day, taking in all that nature has to offer while benefitting from the wonderful endorphins you get with exercise.
Beth says: We focus on the “core” subjects so do English & Maths first as a priority then work down the list as often we can do our own versions that are more suited to my kids. For example, the PE today was a yoga video but I know my girls would much prefer more physical so we went out for a bike ride. It was much more fun & doesn’t hurt to tweak to suit your own needs (and sanity!) A no-pressure approach is definitely the key to happy kids and parents.
Lynn Stevenson: Getting them outside every day is a huge help for us. Just having that little bit of headspace for all of us makes such a difference to everyone’s mood, and I honestly think it has helped our general well being through all of this. We usually do it after school tasks are done but some days if anyone’s struggling we just head out and get the tasks done later. They do moan before we leave the house but there has never been a day when they haven’t enjoyed it once we’ve been outside.
Doing What Works For Your Kids
Hayley says: I’ve been having to remind myself that the kids are struggling with the whole situation just as much as us, so their behaviour/reluctance to do schoolwork isn’t necessarily aimed at me! We’re trying to be more relaxed about what we get done, so if we need to just set down the schoolwork and head to the park instead we do, it helps take some of the stress out of things for all of us.
Nicole Arsiwala has some great tips on surviving lockdown homeschooling: Lessons I learnt from the first stint of homeschooling during the first lockdown:
- Don’t stress over the little things. We do the core subjects daily, and then whatever else fits in before one or both of us lose it completely! I am more relaxed which makes my son a bit more receptive to homeschooling too.
- Choose your battles wisely. We are all stressed, over-worked, bored, irritated. Tempers will flare. Kids will be rude/ grumpy/not on their best behaviour. If it’s not worth an argument, I leave it…
- A most important change from lockdown 1 is that I consciously put myself and my work and my needs on the forefront too. Prioritise self-care and your own work too, because you cannot pour from an empty cup!
So there you have it—these pieces of advice and tips on surviving lockdown homeschooling. Please please please, take what works for you, discard what doesn’t, go with the flow, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. I’d love to hear back from you if you have any other lockdown homeschooling tips not already covered above – drop it in the comments below.