Day 8 School at home

Today we called in a relief teacher. Both Mum and Dad had to work and our faithful babysitter up the street happened to be looking for a bit of income after loosing her regular work due to the Covid crisis. It worked well for everyone, but especially for Miss 10.

Miss 10 secretly hoped she could keep the babysitter all to herself. Over the years they have built a good relationship. She is more than just a babysitter, but someone who Miss 10 looks up to. They share a love for music, so she knew today was the perfect day for music worksheets and piano practice. And……. as long as he was fed, Mr 13 didn’t mind if his sister got most of the attention!

We got up early and did the weekly spelling test before I went to work, just to take a little bit of pressure off. Everyone knew what they had to do for the day. There was food for snacks and ingredients for toasties.

Off Dad and I went to work. At lunchtime I checked in and was assured everyone was doing well and work was getting done. I got home at 5pm to two very happy kids with only a cooking project (scrambled eggs) and Covid diary left to complete (easily done on the weekend). They both requested ‘please can we do that again next Friday?’ What a relief it was for me to hear that! It prompted me to ask the kids a few questions;

What was the best thing about having the babysitter here today?

Miss 10: She’s fun.

Mr 13: She made me food (hmmmm do you notice a theme with him?).

What was the best thing about school today?

Mr 10: The babysitter!

Mr 13: I started work early, submitted my cooking work and got ahead with my HASS (who is he and where is my son?!!)

What is the worst thing about home school today?

Miss 10: My brother!

Mr 13: Nothing! Although the girls jamming away on the piano while I was in an online class was a bit annoying.

As difficult as some days are, there is still much to be gained from this time. I look forward to asking the kids similar questions again in a few years when all this is history. It will be super interesting to see what they remember most. I am hoping it won’t be the times I lost the plot trying too hard to make up for no face to face school, no play dates and no sport. But instead, the times they enjoyed their music, learnt new skills in the kitchen and different ways to keep fit. It is most likely to be the days they got to spend with their babysitter!!

Mum Bee

Day 7 School at home

14 minutes……….. that was the longest period today without one of the kids saying Mum or Mumma. It was 2:06pm until 2:20pm.

‘Mumma, I don’t understand.’

‘Mum, I am hungry.’

‘Mum, I don’t know what I am supposed to do.’

‘Mumma, I am hungry.’

‘Mumma, can you help me?’

‘Mum, I’m hungry.’

‘Mum, you have to help me.’

‘Mum, can you play basketball with me?’

‘Mumma, what can I eat?’

‘Mum, what time is it?’

‘Mumma, where do I find the……… booklet?’

‘Mum, I’m hungry.’

The lessons today went relatively smoothly. I was needed less for content help which was good. We got outside to shoot some hoops and rode into town after school (funnily enough, we had to buy more food!). It was a good ‘school at home’ day.

However…….. I am tired. I do love the kids, of course I do, but man I am looking forward to a day off work without them. The last one was 45 days ago (not that I am counting!).

Oh for a hot cup of tea, my hammock and a book or perhaps a friend around for a chat. I can’t even go to the loo in peace. It is like having a toddler again. MMMMUUUUUUUMMMMMM

My dream……. this picture was months ago!

Mum B

Day 6 School at home

Here we go again. The start of term 2!

Today began with an announcement from Mr 13……. ‘I think I have a science assignment due today and I haven’t done it.’ (insert Mum’s swear words). Great start. How many weeks has he known about that and chosen to ignore it?!

After dropping that bombshell, he proceeded to have the longest shower possible and flopped about in his new birthday Ugg boots, with comments like ‘Do I have too?’ and ‘I’m tired’. Grrrrr.

Meanwhile, Miss 10 had set up in her bedroom with; books, booklets, files, laptop, pens and pencils at the ready. She was at her desk 15 mins before class started, had flicked through the teachers plan for the day and had completed her spelling test. She logged into her online class at 8:45 sharp.

At 9:10am (surprisingly on time) Mr 13 logged into his first class. The whole online process was a lot smoother than in the last week of term 1. Both kids knew how to join their classes, where to find documents and places to submit work. The system seemed to be working smoothly and both appeared happy and confident. This was a big relief for me….. I headed for a quick shower.

At recess time the thoughtful grandparents (who were in town picking up some essential supplies) arrived with coffees for the ‘teachers’. This was a very welcome break and the kids were happy to sit out in the sunshine and chat to their Nana and Poppa, it has been a while since they could.

It wasn’t long after returning to their work that something strange happened. Both kids became very tired and weary. In the end, Mr 13 actually went to bed in his lunch break (and slept, I do not remember the last time he took a nap!). Miss 10 soldiered on through but this turned out to be a mistake.

I guess I hadn’t really thought how tiring this day would be. The last 3 weeks were probably the laziest 3 weeks our kids had ever had in their lives. They’d had to be.

Suddenly they had been thrown back into a situation where they needed to concentrate, focus and process. Added to this, was the emotional stress they have been under. Their friends and teachers were right there on screens in front of them, but still untouchable. It must have felt incredibly frustrating.

Miss 10 said her brain ‘felt rusty’ and I think that is a great way to describe it. I tried to tell her it probably needed to warm up and to take things slow. She took regular ‘power wing’ breaks and divided the work into smaller chunks. This seemed to help but she was still keen to get on and keep up. Somewhere along the line in her haste to plough through, we misread the cover of a booklet.

It was hours later we realised our mistake. She had completed week 6 mental maths instead of week 1 and had done handwriting from last terms book instead of term 2. It was all too much! Unable to process any more, I decided it was time to head out for a big walk to clear our heads.

We walked around the ‘big’ block and chatted to neighbours as we went. We discussed how she was feeling and how a lot of people were feeling at the moment (quite lost and frustrated). We said hello to dogs. Each step healed and relaxed.

When we got home, she did the work we should have done earlier, ate a wholesome dinner and settled in front of the TV. We lit our first fire for the year and all took a deep breath.

Mr 13 as it turns out was pulling my leg again. His science assignment was 3/4 done and is due on Friday. He is an absolute master at winding his mother up!

Mum B

Covid school holidays

After we had survived week one of home learning, the school holidays were brought forward. This was a good thing. In all honesty, both the kids and parents (not to mention the teachers) needed a few weeks off to process the huge changes and turmoil into which we had been thrown. In a matter of weeks, quite literally our whole lives had been turned upside down.

This posed its own new problems. How exactly do you entertain two kids in a semi-lockdown situation for 3 weeks, while trying to maintain a healthy routine and some form of physical activity? All Mr 12 wanted to do was Playstation and Miss 10 was leaning mostly towards the Nintendo Switch and the TV. Camping plans for Easter were out the window and the weather was pretty hit and miss.

I started out with a million jobs to do. I taught myself new skills painting furniture, baked up a storm and decluttered. We rode our bikes, went for walks, started circuit training in the garage and the kids learnt to skip. We played board games, did jigsaw puzzles, built cubbies and watched family movies. We even reacquainted with old toys.

But still I fretted and worried about whether the kids were getting out enough and whether I was allowing too much screen time. Some days no one got dressed. Some days the kids were on screens all day (shock horror)!!

There was and is family time galore, which mostly is a good thing. But, there undoubtedly has been extremely challenging times. Tempers have boiled over with yelling and screaming. Yet we have found new ways to overcome (signs on bedroom doors and such like). We have learnt to draw new boundaries.

I have slowly been learning to let it go. Let go of the notion that there is a right or wrong way to do this. How could there be? No one has had to do this before! I have rested and so have they. It has been quite refreshing to lead a life that is far more simple.

I have listened to myself and I have listened to them. A podcast a few days back reinforced what I had been thinking. The kids are happy online. They are maintaining their social connections and their mental health is just fine (that is, until Mum comes along and tells them to get off). We are all beginning to realise the importance of connecting with people and how much we crave it. These kids don’t even have to think about that, they are doing it all the time.

This time out (it sort of feels like we are in the naughty corner?!!) has had and will continue to have some very interesting consequences on society. Some things will never return to the way things were and nor should they. Thank you Australia. We have all done an outstanding job. If ever we needed an illustration of what we can achieve, the ANZAC day driveway dawn service was it. Just mind blowing.

As we contemplate a return to school, it is clear to me how important this time has been and how we will look back on it with mixed emotions. There are things we missed out on; birthdays (Mr 12 is Mr 13 today, with no fan fair or big celebration), Easter camping, coffee dates, the gym and dinners out. But, there is so much we have gained; empathy, respect, kindness, resilience, simple exercise, cooking and IT skills.

Our school returns on Wednesday…….. online. More than anything I think it is out of respect to our teachers who have gone above and beyond working to provide an online platform that is second to none. My children will not suffer. So long as Mum stays calm and gives them plenty of food they will find their way through and on the other side they will have skills (mostly IT) that most of us adults only dream of!

I am ready. Bring on more home learning!

Mum Bee

Day 5 Home schooling

3rd April 2020 (Game changer)

Today was a bit of a messy day with both Mr and Mrs Prof Bee scheduled to work. We had the care sorted with neighbours and friends but there was no one actually available to ‘teach’. That is, apart from their wonderful and capable teachers on the other ends of their computers.

I had got Miss 10 ahead over the last few days which meant the pressure was off for her. I woke her up early to supervise the end of week spelling test, lunch boxes were packed and the care arrangements explained.

What followed was a day that made me realise how silly I have been! Mr 12 regularly sent messages to let me know how his work was going (complete with screen shot proof). He logged into one class late, learnt the consequence of that and moved on. They even snuck in some exercise with a quick bike ride to see Dad at lunch time.

This was very encouraging for us as parents. Mr 12 was proud of himself and we were proud of him. A bit of responsibility goes really well for him.

With term 2 set to be online (at least to begin with) we have managed to finish term 1 with a sense of confidence and I have realised I was just trying too hard! The kids do not need another teacher. They need to be cared for, fed, loved and someone to talk to if things get tough.

As many teachers I know have said………….. it is not home school we are facilitating but home learning (sorry I was a slow learner but I get it now!). Apart from what the kids learnt online today, they learnt to be responsible for their own school work and to use their initiative to find ways to make the day enjoyable.

I am not saying Term 2 will be easy, there will be many challenges ahead I am sure. But, I feel that we can go into it much wiser and prepared than we did this week. I will be trying my best to step back more and let the kids find their own way through this (but close enough to step in when needed!).

This time is really an amazing opportunity to teach a whole new range of skills to our kids. To find excitement and joy from the simple things in life and to really take notice of what is in our own backyard.

Mum Bee

Day 4 Home schooling

2nd April 2020 (My real April fools day)

I tried to start today more positive. I had a chat to Mr 12 about getting on and doing his work as well as the need to get out for some fresh air. The plan was good. The execution was appalling.

By 10am we were all yelling at each other, the work was mounting and we were behind. At 10:50am I managed to get everyone on their bikes and we headed down to the foreshore. We had messaged the PE teacher so he was aware we were off exercising (and marked as present). As it was period 3 we were able to combine our outing with recess. This meant we had a reasonable amount of time before Mr 12 had to sign into any classes.

This excursion was an eye opener for the kids for several reasons. Firstly, they realised I was actually right (not that they would admit it!!). Getting dressed and out of the house did make you feel better. Secondly, they were shocked to see fences around the playgrounds and skatepark. It was quite confronting for them to see illustrated quite how the outside world is changing. I guess it made them realise this horrible situation is actually real.

After this, it was back to the grind and me needing to split in two. We ploughed on through the work as best we could, splitting up fights as we went. But still, we were behind………… or at least Mr 12 was. In the end we had to go back to it at 7pm to finish up.

But, probably the worst part of the day was the bit that I will look back on and laugh. My friend had dropped over with a puzzle she had borrowed. We were chatting in the driveway (with more than 2m space between us) when we heard Mr 12 scream and then start crying. I sent Miss 10 to see what was happening and she returned crying.

My friend retreated and I headed in to see what was going on. The TV screen was smashed, Mr 12 stood there with a ball in his hands and Miss 10 was inconsolable. So many things ran through my head. Were TVs even available at the moment? (or were they like toilet roll?) Could we buy a new one? How could we do weeks of isolation with no TV? How should I punish him?

I burst into tears. It was all too much.

Then there was a small laugh.

Then Mr 12 burst out….. “It is a prank. I downloaded the image”

He apologised at least ten times, he didn’t realise it would upset me so much. “Sorry, sorry, sorry, it was meant to be funny”………… but it was too late, I was already on the wine.

He got me good.

Prof Bee

Day 3 Home schooling

1st April 2020 – April fools day (although it feels like April fools month)

I was back on the job today and it was another tough day trying to be there for each of the kids when they needed it. Miss 10 had a morning of English that she wasn’t very confident with and needed me beside her the whole time. Grammar was never my strong point either, so I had to do a little polishing up as I went.

This caused Mr 12 to get annoyed because I wasn’t helping him enough. I haven’t quite worked out the knack of being in two classrooms at the same time! After a lot of shouting he actually turned the internet off to stop me helping her! This of course worsened the problem and caused me to spend 20 minutes fixing the connection and getting her back on track.

I am finding it really difficult in these kinds of situations to not shout and scream the house down, particularly at him. I feel like he should be old enough to do the right thing. I sometimes have to remind myself that he is probably feeling pretty anxious and out of sorts. His world has been turned upside down just like mine.

It is really difficult as a parent to keep things calm and any sense of normality in this obviously very abnormal time. They do have a point when they say no one will know if they are in their PJs in their virtual class, but routine is the only thing we have left to stick to. Every step feels like a fight at the moment, whether it is getting in the shower or getting some fresh air or getting the lessons done.

I am struggling with all the new and changing roles I have and managing my own mental health. Things seem so out of my control. But the kids look to me to keep things going. I have to somehow find a way to balance their needs and my own needs.

Work is always in the back of my mind. Some time in the next few weeks I will be redeployed. I have no idea to where or quite what I might be doing. It is disconcerting and unsettling but at least I will have something, there are plenty of people out there that have nothing.

The tricky part for me is putting all that to the back of my mind and focussing while I am at home with the kids. More than anything they just need someone who is focussed and attentive……… and that provides food………… constantly. We are trying to shop less but food just seems to evaporate in this house at the moment.

Prof B

Day 2 Home schooling

31st March 2020

So today I cheated and went to work. It felt really good after three days at home to get back into the ‘real’ world. Except of course, it wasn’t the world we know….. it was Corona world.

I spent the entire day at work cancelling clients, explaining that due to the risk of exposure to coronavirus, we were unable to continue the service. We have been temporarily suspended (I hope it is the only suspending I need to do this week!). It was an odd feeling. Sad but also a relief knowing I was no longer in such close contact with people and therefore at risk.

Back on the home front, Mr Prof Bee seemed to do a great job with the kids. When I got home all was calm and school work was complete. Miss 10 and Dad were outside playing a new game she had invented called Power Hockey. This involved hitting a ball around the driveway with a hockey stick while riding a power-wing (way to co-ordinated for me!).

Well done Dad. The only thing not under control was dinner, but with Hello Fresh ready to help us out that wasn’t too hard for me to sort out.

I am back on teacher duty for two days in a row from tomorrow. I feel nervous already.

Prof B

Day 1 Home schooling

I started journaling two weeks ago. I love to write, it helps me process. I realised today there are likely a lot of parents out there needing to process and also to know they are not alone in their struggles, so I decided to turn the journal into a blog.

We can but lead them…

30th March 2020

If I thought I had many roles in my life before, today I gained a new one and this one is potentially more important than all the rest……………….. school teacher to my own kids.

A rather unique set of circumstances has stopped the world in its tracks. It has changed everything that we know as normal and that includes the ability to send our kids to school. Covid 19 arrived in the world in January and now in late March has reached the sunny shores of Australia. This virus attacks the respiratory tract and as of today has killed some 35,000 people (remember this was first written two weeks ago). It is easily transmissible and lives on surfaces for days. The only way to stop this pandemic is to isolate.

Late last week we were asked not to send our kids to school unless absolutely necessary. I work in allied health and we have temporarily suspended our normal service, shops are closing, we are no longer allowed to gather in groups of more than 2 (unless from the same household), over 70s are confined to their homes……….. basically where possible we have to avoid other human beings and we all know how great children are at passing bugs about!

Hence, today I became a school teacher. I felt inadequate and lost. Our school has been absolutely amazing, the resources and support we have is just incredible, but still it was so so hard.

We had IT issues with the increased volume of people on the internet in virtual classrooms. Basic operations suddenly took forever. Little Miss 10’s emotions overcame her. She loves school and to have it closed is heartbreaking and scary for her. When things didn’t work smoothly it was devastating and obviously all my fault.

It was tough. I didn’t really want to be doing this and I didn’t know how to be doing this. There were swear words, tears, things thrown and paper screwed.

In the end her big brother was able to save her (and me), uploading documents and giving quick PowerPoint tutorials but throughout it all he was also struggling. The Maths teacher was moving quickly and he wasn’t picking up the concepts.

All three of us breathed a huge sigh of relief at lunchtime. We shot some hoops and then did a small art project painting mugs before the afternoon sessions began.

Thankfully the afternoon ran much smoother and after an evening Maths lesson from Mum (hooray I was useful) we seem to be back on track for day 2!

Professor Bee (aka The Travel Bee)

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