Mother Pukka’s guide to juggling homeschooling and work

Are you struggling to juggle homeschooling and work? If so, you’re not alone. According to a new survey by the Trades Union Congress, 90{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of parents say their stress levels have increased during this lockdown, and many people are left calling for greater flexibility when it comes to working from home. Writer and parent blogger Anna Whitehouse, who is otherwise known as Mother Pukka, joins us to defend parents, offer solutions and discuss why so many are struggling more than ever before.

Mother Pukka’s advice for approaching your employer about flexible working or furlough“You need to have a conversation with your employers. Ask them if there is a way to work around this situation in a way that works for everyone. Even if you work for a small business, there are small changes that can be made to make life easier without compromising the bottom line, but it starts with communication. Remind employers that they can get up to 80{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of a furloughed workers wage covered by the government – it will be fully reimbursed. And note that they should look at the long-term impact here. One thing we heard from working mums who responded to the survey was that ultimately, they cannot leave their young children alone to go to work, they cannot leave them unsupervised to concentrate work in another room – so if there was no option to work around this, they would simply have to leave the workforce, which doesn’t benefit either party.”

Homeschooling tips

  • Stick to a routine: This may seem impossible, and your children might have to attend compulsory registrations which gives them a structure anyway. But if you have a basic plan of what you want to do everyday it can help everyone adapt. Think of a timetable as a tool to help you. Remember to structure in breaks for everybody too and allow the routine to be flexible so it doesn’t feel restrictive. 

  • Try not to feel you have to do hours of work with your children. Having concentrated half hours of focussed attention will be better than scattered and distracted help throughout the day. 

  • If your child really doesn’t want to do maths or any other subject then leave it for another day if you can. Let them do something they find interesting and their enthusiasm will be boosted. 

  • A really great way to keep your child’s enthusiasm up is to swap roles and get them to teach you the subject. They will really enjoy showing off their new knowledge. 

  • Don’t think learning has to be done at a table or a desk. You can take it outside or include it within usual household activities like cooking. You may even be able to involve your own work. The more fun you can have while doing it, the more likely they are to remember it. 

  • Let your children get bored. Don’t feel you have to entertain them or have them working on a project all day. 

  • There are lots of online resources and TV programmes that can help you – use them. Let others do the education for a bit.  Watching a nature documentary or a maths talk is learning too!

  • If you have teenagers, it is more a case of making sure they are keeping up with the work assigned to them. A good tip for getting teenagers ready for registration is making sure you have something they like to eat and drink for breakfast – it will tempt them to get up, get dressed and get ready for the day. 

  • Teens can be famously monosyllabic when directly asked how they are doing. Going for a walk or playing a game and chatting about things in general is more likely to make them open up about how they are coping with their workload. 

  • Teens respond better to weekly rather than daily goals – and some days will be better than others. Accept that it will be a bit of a rollercoaster ride and keep your expectations realistic. 

  • Go easy on yourself! You don’t have to become “the teacher.” If your children are fed, getting enough sleep and exercise and are happy then you’re doing a great job. 

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