Ireland’s Fittest Family’s Derval says homeschooling is ‘special kind of hell’ and she’s ‘useless’ at teaching daughter

DERVAL O’Rourke has said homeschooling is a “special kind of hell”.

As the nation’s parents prepare to teach their children from home for the second time due to Covid-19 while also juggling work, Derval will be doing the same. 

Derval said she is 'useless' at being a teacher for daughter Dafne


Derval said she is ‘useless’ at being a teacher for daughter DafneCredit: Kyran O’Brien
The mum-of-two said she found it hard to work and look after the kids in lockdown


The mum-of-two said she found it hard to work and look after the kids in lockdown
Derval is back for a new series of Ireland's Fittest Family with host Mairead Ronan and fellow coaches, Davy, Donncha and Anna


Derval is back for a new series of Ireland’s Fittest Family with host Mairead Ronan and fellow coaches, Davy, Donncha and AnnaCredit: Kyran O’Brien

And the top athlete said she is “useless” at being the teacher for her five-year-old Dafne.

She laughed: “Homeschooling, well it’s definitely a special type of hell. I would love to say I am one of those mothers who is amazing at crafting and homeschooling, but I actually found it very difficult. 

“My youngest is one, he had his first birthday in the first lockdown and he turns two in March, and I imagine that he will be having his second birthday in lockdown too.

“But it was really challenging, both myself and my husband work and there is no point sugarcoating it- I found it hard to work and look after two children.

“My son is at that age where you can’t lob him in front of the TV as he might hurt himself jumping on the table. It was a really stressful time, and a really tough time for people.”


She added: “I can handle this lockdown now as there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, but we are heading back homeschooling next week and I can think of few things worse than homeschooling.

“I am useless at it, I’m patient but my attention to detail is brutal and I forget what I need to do.

“I think teachers are amazing, I have a lot of friends who are teachers and I have never been deluded enough to think I was good enough to be a teacher, I’m not.

“So I am not excited about homeschooling next week, but in reality, you have to do what you can do, don’t overthink it all.

“I feel very strongly about having them moving around and getting them out in the air even when it’s freezing, so I am just hoping we can turn a corner in the next couple of weeks and never go back to homeschooling again.”


The former Olympian said she struggled trying to workout and run her home and her fitness website, all at the same time.

And she urged other mothers to realise they don’t have to be the perfect teacher and take some time out for themselves during the day.

She said: “It was really hard. There was no childcare for a period of time and we were both working.

“My husband works in insurance and with all the companies shutting down, all his clients felt like their whole world was on fire and he was trying to help.

“And he is an essential service. So I had to learn to reduce expectations on myself.

“I think we all have to reduce expectations on ourselves.

Derval says women 'put horrendous pressure' on themselves


Derval says women ‘put horrendous pressure’ on themselves

“Homeschooling kids and juggling work and everything else is hard and what the kids need is probably a lot less than you think.

“I think women put horrendous pressure on ourselves so remind yourself that having 30 minutes in a day to workout or walk and mind yourself isn’t a luxurious thing, that should be part of everyone’s day, kids or not.

“It is there to help you down the road mentally, physically. See the 30 minutes as a savings scheme, put a little bit in and all the time builds up.”


Derval is back on screens with Ireland’s Fittest Family, where she is hoping one of her families will be crowned winner at the end of the series. 

In the opening episode last week, young Galway teenager Aoife O’Rourke wowed viewers by standing on one leg for almost 15 minutes.

And Derval said she loves to see women and girls do well on the show.

She said: “I have such a soft spot for the young girls and mothers on this show, who completely surprise everyone.

“I loved that with Aoife last week, she was quite steely and confident in herself and her ability and I think that is so important for young girls watching. 

“I’ve seen it a lot this year, Aoife is 17, we have another girl who is 16 and you can see them getting stuck in and their confidence and mental toughness, it is good for women to see that.

“You don’t see it a lot on TV, if you turn on TV and see sports, it’s men’s sports, men’s soccer, men’s rugby. So Fittest Family showcases women in a positive way. 

“And then you see the coaches, two men and two women and there is no question as to why there are two women there. We don’t see enough females in coaching positions in my opinion.

“My daughter is five-and-a-half so she hears a lot from me that women are strong and fantastic but we need to see it more.

“When we were watching the show the other night, she was standing there copying Aoife, standing on one leg and it was an amazing thing to watch.”

  • Ireland’s Fittest Family continues on RTE One, tomorrow night at 6.30pm

Next Post

The Science of Spiritual Narcissism

Sat Jan 9 , 2021
“Ego is able to convert anything to its own use, even spirituality.”—Chögyam Trungpa
 A purported benefit of mind-body spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation and energy healing is that they will help “quiet the ego,” providing an effective antidote to the exalted self. Indeed, such practices do have the potential […]

You May Like