The world is a very strange place at the moment. I don’t need to tell you what’s going on – it’s impossible to ignore. But I think it’s worth pausing for a moment to think about our response to what has happened over the past few days and how we adjust to our ever changing new reality.
My new reality
I’m working from home with two teenagers and two dogs and have been for over a week. The first thing I did was to try to find a space where all three humans can work. Peace and quiet isn’t really something we do. Teenager #1 needs YouTube to work to and prefers to sit on a cushion on the floor in her bedroom (don’t judge my parenting – we’ve discussed ergonomics but I figure she’s old enough to make up her own mind). Teenager #2 has what we affectionately call the ‘dining room table’ even though we’re more likely to enjoy TV dinners as I glue myself to the latest news. He likes to have films on TV while he’s working and is currently going through the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Again. I’m in my bedroom listening to the wonderfully reassuring Radio 6. When I need to take phone or video calls I can shut the door and hope I’m not interrupted.
But that’s not all…
Our one unchangeable rule is that we are all allowed one – and only one – hissy fit/temper tantrum/breakdown a day. No carry forward or borrowing allowed. If someone even tries to have an extra one, we end up in fits of giggles trying to enforce the rule, which breaks the tension. We also walk the dogs every day as a family. Again, no get-out clause.
Teachers are doing an incredible job
I know from my friends that it’s much more challenging with younger children and you’re less likely to be able to work for long periods of time. Employers understand this and I love it when children appear in the background of a video call because they want to know who we’re talking to. I feel as though I’m getting to know my colleagues much better because I see them working in their home environments and I’m meeting their families!
My teenagers are pretty much replicating their school timetable every day and their teachers are beginning to send work through for them. I know this is happening for primary school children too, but it very much depends on the schools and their ever-changing situation. At the moment, headteachers are wrestling with how to keep their schools open, deploy their staff effectively and keep everyone safe. Our teachers are doing an incredible job of responding to very peculiar circumstances and we need to support them all we can.
It’s just over a week until the Easter holiday would have begun and my advice is to not worry about replicating school. The government have taken the pressure off us all by cancelling tests and exams. Spend time with your children and have some fun rather than fretting too much about lessons. Over the coming weeks we will be further on in balancing working from home and childcare. Schools will have got over the initial adjustment period too and will have a much better idea of how to continue our children’s education. We will settle into a new normality. And over the next days and weeks we will be publishing resources to support you at school and home.
Which brings me to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you know the book, you’ll know where I’m going. If you don’t, well here’s a taster: Arthur Dent gets woken up one Thursday morning to find out that his house is about demolished, but this turns out to be the least of his worries because, at lunchtime on the very same Thursday, the Earth gets demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.
Get a copy or listen to it (it was a radio play to begin with). There’s even a film adaptation and a TV series. The advice on the front cover?