First, some practical tips …
Here are some of the things that we’ve been doing to help the household function while everyone’s working in the same space.
- We start the day by getting dressed! We wouldn’t normally go to school in our pyjamas (unless we’re in a bad dream), so let’s not stay in them all day.
- Everyone sits around the dining room table so we can help whoever needs it and keep everyone on task. We have also removed some of the dining room chairs so that everyone has more room to move.
- We have a half-hour break at 11am and an hour break at 1pm. We eat and go outside at this time.
- For Charlie, who is in Year 4, once 3.30pm comes he stops work, regardless of whether or not he’s finished everything set for the day. We don’t want him working till 5pm just because the teacher miscalculated how long the work would take!
- For the girls, Abby in Year 9 and Gracie in Year 7, they need to finish the work set for the day and a solid amount of any assignments set. If they don’t, it will just keep piling up.
- During breaks we have done plenty of walks and the kids have done lots of bike riding. We are lucky to have a lot of suitable outdoor spaces in our area for this activity.
What this time has been like for each of us …
Throughout this whole period of the COVID-19 pandemic I have constantly been reminded of how lucky my family and I are compared to many others. For a start we are in Australia, where the emergency has been handled very well, but we also have jobs and financial security and no-one I know has actually contracted the virus. We have a comfortable home to isolate in and lots of ways to entertain ourselves.
Most importantly, though, we have faith that somehow through all of this God has a plan and is using this situation for his glory. As we are reminded all through the Psalms, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…” (Ps 46:1-2).
A major learning that I took away from the early days of working from home and having all the family at home was around adjusting expectations. This took many forms, including:
- not expecting so much of myself and setting more realistic goals for myself each day;
- realising that all of my students who I’m teaching remotely would be in different situations and so whatever I set for them, I had to be content with what they handed in;
- recognising that my own kids were actually doing really well with their online learning and so I had to put any frustrations I had with them in perspective; and
- understanding that my immediate colleagues at work were all going to cope with the situation differently and so I was going to have to adjust accordingly.
Another thing that I have appreciated in this period of working from home is getting to know my kids in a different way. It has been quite revealing seeing them complete their online learning, understanding more about how they organise their tasks and the way their minds work. It also turns out that they are pretty funny when they want to be and are getting better at throwing back an answer to my sarcastic quips.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, and we now know there are some educational areas in which our kids need more support; however, overall it has been a very beneficial time for our family.
I’ve personally enjoyed self-isolation! I’ve got MANY projects on the go at the one time and I’ve been able to make some real headway. The stained-glass window for the stairwell (which has been underway for no less than four years) is almost complete! I also love just being at home with the family. We cook new things together (pesto and cheese pull-apart and gyoza from scratch, which ordinarily we wouldn’t have time for), or bond over funny TV shows. I’ve even increased my exercise (not that I’m enjoying it any more than I was before…).
However, things aren’t perfect. I have two main issues.
The first is remembering to think outside of our little ‘indoor world’. I’m doing fine, but others aren’t. I should ring friends more or even send them a text or email, just to check in and see how they’re coping, or let them know I’m thinking about them. I have done this more than usual, but it still doesn’t seem like enough.
The second is making the most of all this extra time to be with God, reading his word and praying. I certainly haven’t done this well. I get my daily email from the Bible Society which I’m ashamed to say I don’t always read. But reflecting on this is helpful. It’s something that has been on track in the past and can be again. Now I’ve got the time to make the change.
I kind of like and hate doing my school work from home at the same time. I like it because it makes you more organised. You just have to be organised. At school you were just aimlessly walking to different classes. Now you have to be in charge of yourself and you need to structure your learning. And I don’t like it because I don’t see friends and I would prefer teacher face-to-face learning because you get the best outcome out of that.
I miss going out occasionally, but I am lazy so I don’t particularly mind staying home. I do miss going to the shops with my friends, though.
Doing my school work at home means I have more help from Mum and Dad but it’s sad not being with my friends. There’s too much work and it’s overwhelming because it’s hard. The maths can get really hard. Staying at home is good because I can have easy toilet breaks. I don’t need to get a toilet pass!
One annoying thing about online learning is that Mr Gail doesn’t give the work to us all at the one time. He doesn’t let us rush ahead, which is really annoying! And it’s annoying having to stare in front of a screen all day. Even the breaks are Go Noodle or YouTube on the computer watching someone dancing. And the assignments can get confusing. Before coronavirus I didn’t really see my friends a lot so I’m fine in that category.