It’s a question I’ve read what feels like a million times in the last week – will I be sending my child back to school when they reopen on June 1?
Once Boris announced in his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown that schools could potentially reopen as early as the start of June for Foundation, Year One and Year Six children – social media was full of it. As you’d expect. Would I be sending my child back to school?
And the majority of answers I’ve read have been ‘no’. And not just a simple ‘no’. But a big fat no with a cherry on the top. Followed by a long paragraph explaining all the reasons why their child is absolutely not going back. Whether or not they’re even those year groups. How schools shouldn’t be reopening at all, how it’s going to cause a second wave of coronavirus. That teachers shouldn’t be being put at risk. That there’s no way their child is going anywhere until September.
And I don’t have a problem with any of that. It’s how people are feeling.
Judgey comments are a big no no
But to be honest, more than a few of the comments I’ve read on various social media threads have been quite aggressive, and well, downright judgey. Like their opinion is the ONLY opinion, and of COURSE they are right.
What I’ve not seen too much of is people saying ‘yes, I am sending my child back’. And I don’t think that’s because there are no parents in the whole of England who have decided to do this.
I think it’s because sadly they don’t want to ‘own up’ to it, that they’ll be shot down for being irresponsible, and be lectured at by those who feel so strongly on the opposite side.
And for the past week, I’ve been one of those people. I’ve not held my hands up and posted on social media that my four year old will be back at school on June 1 at 8.30am. I’ve not written a facebook post about it, or commented on any Instagram posts asking what I’m going to do.
I can make up my own mind
Because I personally don’t want other people’s opinions forced upon me – I can make up my own mind. And I also didn’t want a whole load of strangers being aggressive and judgmental on my social media channels making others feel crappy.
Then I thought if I was feeling a bit like this, surely there would be loads of others like me. I’m quite sure my four year old won’t be the only one in the classroom come June 1. Although there’d be no problem with social distancing if that is the case!
Different reasons for sending children back to school – or not
What about the parents who have to go back to work, and don’t have childcare for their children? The mums and dads who have been working until midnight because they can’t do their jobs from home during the day because of homeschooling their kids? What about the keyworkers who have already had to send their children to school throughout lockdown? And those with some sort of health issue that causes extra concern?
So many people haven’t got a choice whether or not to send their children back in June. Whether they really want to or not. I expect reading all the comments from those not sending their kids back is making them feel really bloody great right now.
I’m lucky I’ve got the choice. Other than writing that I can do in the evenings, I don’t have a job I have to do during the day. At the same time as homeschooling or looking after two year old twins and a four year old.
I can focus all my attention on these three boys. All day, every day. So why would I want to send the four year old back to school during a global pandemic, and when I’m reading that everyone else is keeping them off?
Well firstly, I don’t think it is EVERYONE else. It just feels like that because of the outspoken few on social media. I’m in two ‘mums’ group chats on Facebook and Whatsapp – one is my closest 10 school mum friends. The other is pretty much all of the parents of the 60 Foundation children.
The question has done the rounds, obviously. And surprisingly (and I kept a tally) it is almost an exact 50/50 split of whether their kids are going back or not.
Why I’m sending my child back to school
I’m sending my four year old back because I think everyone in my household needs it.
He is desperate to see his friends (luckily most of whom are also going back). It’s been great that he’s had his two year old twin brothers to play (fight) with for the last 8 weeks but he’s desperate to see his little buddies.
I trust the school implicitly to look after him and keep him safe and happy. It’s only for reduced hours on two days a week. And I think he needs that classroom time for socialisation, interaction and learning. He will be in a bubble of 9 children, and yes things will be very different to what he is used to – I’ve explained that to him. And he still wants to go.
Unlike a lot of others, I have faith that the scientists and education experts advising the government aren’t just doing this for the fun of it, and most importantly, I live in the South West, the least affected area of the country. The latest figures I’ve read state that Plymouth’s hospital coronavirus death toll is 78. I’m loath to say ‘only’ as that belittles those 78 families’ tragic losses. But the figures are hugely different elsewhere. If I was living in London, I would no doubt feel differently.
I read over and over again that people aren’t sending their kids back until September, which is totally fine. That’s their decision, the same as this is mine. Although I do wonder how different things will be by then? How long can people keep their children off if nothing changes for the next six months, a year?
Homeschooling is not my greatest talent
One factor in my decision is that homeschooling is rapidly turning into a disaster. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts we’re set challenges every day by the school as well as phonics, reading, numbers and online games. I was going to say it started off well, but it didn’t really. However we got into a slight rhythm for a couple of weeks before it all went tits up.
He increasingly lost interest, and it became a battle to get him to do certain things – namely a You Tube phonics lesson. And when I say battle, I mean full on meltdowns. I’m ashamed to say not just from him. I lost my shit too. A lot. Which obviously REALLY helped. After speaking to his teacher we’ve binned the You Tube phonics. Thank f*ck for that.
The rest of it is heading that way too. I’ve got to the stage where my heart sinks as I find out what ‘today’s challenge’ is. Please let it be something simple like writing letters out of things you can find in the garden. I mean, how cool is that. Piece of piss, we’ll get that done in no time.
Or so I thought. Jeez, you wouldn’t believe the bloody effort it took to get him to collect a few f*cking daisies and twigs. I ended up doing most of it for him. And yes, I do realise that is not actually the point.
Jurassic Park low point
I think my lowest point so far was last week when the challenge was to make something out of a cardboard box. Simple, I hear you say. Indeed. But then the four year old announced he wanted to make Jurassic Park. And imagine my joy when the twins wanted to join in too. Fuck my life. What a shambles that was. Three hours, THREE HOURS, painting a damn cardboard box and a few trees, at the same time as trying to stop the twins from sabotaging it, and painting their own faces. Unsuccessfully I might add. I’m the type of person that thinks this is sheer hell.
Give me phonics any day.
So yes the homeschooling is not going too well, to say the least. Even the slightest thing causes arguments between the four year old and I. Big unnecessary arguments and lots of tears, from both of us. People have said for me to bin it totally and just have fun. He’s only four after all. On the days I’ve done that, it’s less pressurised but it’s not suddenly turned all three of my children into angels who lap up every fabulous activity I set down for them to do with no arguments, tantrums and tears. Does that actually happen anywhere??
Two year old twins are being neglected
Homeschooling also means I’m having to find ways to keep the twins entertained on their own whilst I try to ‘teach’ the four year old, however much I’ve already binned off. This usually means jigsaws, play doh, duplo, Blippi or Hey Duggee on the TV, or them finding their inner artistic streaks and drawing all over the walls with crayon.
Whatever activities I set them up with last five minutes before it all goes to shit. And as the weeks go on, their increasing naughtiness is getting out of hand. I’m convinced it’s because they’re not getting enough of my attention or stimulation.
And I feel guilty that I’m not spending more time with them.
I’m sending my child back to school because I’m struggling
I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m struggling with lockdown. I am not the supermum I’d like to be. Whilst some people are having the time of their lives, I’m not enjoying it at all. My husband is working from 8am to 6pm and again in the evenings, so I’m looking after the boys on my own all day. You may think me not enjoying actually looking after my own kids makes me a shit parent, maybe it does, but some days it’s tough isn’t it? Being stuck at home, not seeing people, going places. Like not just in a ‘I wish I could go to the loo on my own’ kind of tough. But a ‘I’m actually dreading today’ kind of tough. How bad is that?
My boys fight. All the time. Literally 10 minutes can’t go by without someone screaming because someone else has hurt them by lobbing a toy at their head, scratching their face, or kicking them. Last week blood was drawn from all three of them in one day. Often it’s over toys. Other times it’s over who ‘won’ by finishing their lunch first. Or who saw the butterfly in the garden first. Who reaches the bottom of the stairs the fastest. Seriously. They fight over anything and everything. And it’s draining.
I’m becoming increasingly more shouty as they make me lose my shit 25 times a day. And it’s a good day if I’ve not cried at least three times. WTF? I’m sure that sounds like I’m making it up. But it’s true.
I’m a shouty mum who cries a lot and drinks wine
I think lockdown is actually making me a worse mum. Whilst some are flourishing, and lapping up all the time they have with their families, I’m struggling. If the Other Half wasn’t working it would be a totally different story. I might possibly not be sending the four year old back to school, and we could be ‘#making memories’ left, right and centre, cherishing all the family time we’ve been given. But we are where we are. I’m a shouty mum, who cries a lot, and drinks wine at 5pm whilst I stick chicken nuggets in the oven or boil pasta and count the minutes until bedtime. Only to be up at least three times a night, but that’s a different story.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been shit, but the enjoyable parts are generally the weekends when I’m not doing it all on my own. Everyone (me included) has a new found respect for teachers. I also have it for single parents with more than two young children.
I feel like we all might spontaneously combust soon. And that surely can’t be a good thing. I’m lucky I’ve never struggled with my mental health, but I can honestly say, this situation is starting to break me. I feel like a shit mum to my kids, when this could have been a brilliant opportunity to have the ‘time of our lives’.
I feel guilty I’m sending my child back to school for selfish reasons
Then I feel intense guilt that my decision in sending my child back to school is selfish and more about me than anything else. And that I just need to grow a pair and get on with it! Of course I’m worried. I’m not sending my child back to school having not thought about all the factors that go with that decision. Although I’m sure at least half of the comments I get on Facebook about this post will be from people wrongly assuming I’ve not thought carefully enough and weighed it all up before reaching my decision. If that’s the case, they’ve kind of missed the point.
None of us have underlying health conditions so I’m not massively concerned about the health risk to my family, I have to say. Other than the odd walk on a weekend, we’ve all been at home. Not mixing with anyone. Jeez, I’ve only been to a shop ONCE in the whole of lockdown. My four year old sees four other people – all of whom he lives with.
What will school be like?
My biggest concern is what it will be like at school, will he be with his friends in the ‘bubbles’ they are setting up. Will he be okay, will it all be too different to what he’s used to and be a step too far for a four year old? Will I damage him by doing this? I’ve seen all the pictures doing the rounds on Facebook, and don’t find them at all helpful. It feels like scaremongering which is totally inappropriate – especially considering the number of parents who don’t have a choice whether to send their child back or not.
One of my best friends works in intensive care, and her husband is a paramedic. So their four year old has been going to school throughout lockdown once or twice a week. She told me on Friday that he’s been absolutely fine with it all. All the changes, all the differences, all the new rules. He’s treated it as an adventure and not only has he taken it in his stride, he’s loved it. This made me feel so much better, and think that I should maybe give my eldest more credit.
I don’t need to send him back to school, but I will
At the end of the day, no I don’t NEED to send my child back to school, but I will. And if I change my mind I’ll pull him out again.
I’m doing it for his sake, his brothers’ sake, and selfishly or not, for my sake. For the sake of our whole family, as cliched as that sounds. Before we hit breaking point. (I’m thinking it will be me who breaks first when the 5pm wine stops working).
A lot won’t agree I’m doing the right thing. Some will think I’m being selfish, and should think myself lucky I’m not in a worse situation. I agree with the last bit of that. Maybe I agree with the first bit too.
The one thing I do know is that everyone is in a different situation. We have all had very different lockdown experiences. Some have loved it, others loathed it. Everyone has different reasons for making the decision they’re making. And everyone is entitled to not be made to feel bad or judged for making that decision.
Sending them back or keeping them home. We are all doing what we feel is right for our families in this very strange situation. We should go easy on ourselves – and be kind to others, whatever their views.
Are you keeping your children home or sending them back to school?
How did I do?
Did you enjoy this post? If so, you may like my Best And Worst Bits of Being A Mum In Lockdown, or Feeling The Pressure To Be Supermum In Lockdown? And if you want something completely different from lockdown waffle, check out my Mum Life section.
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