Why I could have hugged Boris when he said schools were returning (but quickly realised that would involve actually hugging Boris so had a stern word with myself).

I want to say that having the children home 24/7 for the majority of the last 12 months has been all kinds of wonderful. I want to say that we have made happy, treasured memories to last a lifetime and that it has been an array of painted rainbows, banana-bread baking and outdoor adventures. And whilst this will hopefully be what the children take away from it all (God, I hope they do), I have been at my wits end for most of it. Like many other parents, I've now reached a level of parental burnout that just can't be sustained. Back in March 2020 I simply had no idea what was coming. I had so wanted to be the mum that knew how to keep my children engaged and entertained with homeschooling but in actual fact, it is only the promise of a chocolate coin (or three!) that gets my 5 year old to agree to sit at the computer. I wanted to be the mum with the exciting craft box and plenty of ideas of things to create. I wanted to be the mum that baked cakes and gingerbread men and stayed calm in the face of a sh*t-tonne of eggshell in the mixture. I wanted to be on top of the washing, the shopping, the housework. I wanted to keep us all fit and active. I wanted to keep on top of my own work. My balls are definitely not all in the air.

For the first few weeks of lockdown number one, I actually think I was this mum (or something slightly resembling her), but third lockdown in and I've aged 15 years, cry at the thought of making another round of sandwiches again and am fuelling myself on chocolate biscuits and coffee. It's not good really. 

The truth is, I can be this mum when I've had a breather every now and again. A break. We all can. I can even maybe enjoy the odd crafting session but only when it's a choice, not one I'm forcing everyone (including myself) to do to relieve my own guilt.

We can be good at our jobs, we can be good at managing the house, we can even be good at homeschooling, but doing all of them at once, keeping everything running and ticking over with very little or no headspace at all for days, weeks and months on end isn't possible or feasible. Something has to give. We just can't do it all. 

In normal times, the decision to homeschool is one that is carefully made, the pros and cons weighed up and lifestyle changes made in order to facilitate it. It is not something that would normally be thrust upon you. It's not what homeschooling is and so shouldn't be called that- 'Coronavirus and Boris Are Making Me Educate My Children-schooling' perhaps.

So what's the point of my post? It's not to get any sympathy I promise (we are ALL finding it hard now, whatever our individual circumstances are), it's just to let you know that you're not alone in finding this ridiculously hard. Behind the happy family lockdown pictures that you may see on social media, there is likely to be a parent full of guilt, anxiety or stress that they are not quite doing as much as they think they should be. 

Yesterday it took me until midday to get everyone washed and dressed. I cried and messaged my friend in despair and she replied 'me too!' and sent back a photo of her own children having lunch in their pyjamas! 

It's never just you!