ING’s home teachers
Denial, anger, bargaining – or enjoying having more time with your kids? What phase of homeschooling are you in? It’s been weeks since millions of children around the world were sent from home from school because of the coronavirus pandemic. None of their parents signed up to become teachers. We asked a few ING parents to share their experiences.
“They have learned important life lessons”
“My children are 10 and 14, so I’m lucky to say they follow their online classes on their own. Keeping an active 10-year-old happy at home isn’t easy though. My husband and I take turns during the day to play basketball and football with him, as he’s a fan of both sports. My 14-year-old misses her friends and finds it quite boring to stay at home, which I fully understand at her age. We usually go for a walk together at the end of my long day, spent on the phone, so we can get some fresh air. This, and my early-morning coffee when the house is quiet, are my two favourite moments of the day.
“I grew up in a country where chaos is seen as normal, even routine, sometimes. I think we should consider ourselves lucky as long as we are healthy and have our loved ones around. This is enough for me to feel at peace and grateful to God for what I have in my life. I’m not worried about the classes my children are missing, or that my husband and I don’t teach them maths or science as effectively as their teachers. They have both learned more important life lessons during this crisis. Try to enjoy the time you have with your children and family because it’s a very rare experience for all of us.”
“It’s impossible to be the perfect parent and employee”
“I remember that moment perfectly: I was in an important work call and my six-year-old daughter asked me to read her a book while my three-year-old son wanted me to play firefighter with him. I thought I was going to lose my mind. The following day, I organised activities and allowed them to make a mess in the house. My mess tolerance level is stretched to the max but my children are happy. My husband and I try to divide tasks but I do most of the work around the house. I love watching my kids play together, which normally lasts for about seven minutes.
“I’ve realised it’s impossible to be the perfect parent and employee at the same time, so we all need to relax a little. Heads up, it’s a temporary situation!”
“Every day is different and depends on how everyone is feeling”
“Every day is different and depends on how everyone is feeling. My husband can’t work from home so I spend most of the day with our four children. The eldest ones attend their classes online, I usually help the middle one with her homework, and we keep the youngest entertained with paintings, puzzles and other creative activities.
“There are times when I feel like I’m failing as a mom, if I am on the phone for example and they ask me questions that I can’t answer right away. But these times are quickly forgotten when we gather around the table for lunch and dinner every day, which is when I feel the happiest.”
“We divide tasks based on ‘skills’”
“I felt like I hit a wall on the very first day. My wife and I realised it was going to be more challenging than expected to keep an energetic three-year-old occupied all day. We usually divide tasks based on our ‘skills’ so my wife usually cooks, I clean, and if we have to take calls at the same time, we allow some screen time for our daughter. We get work done while she’s asleep. That’s also when we plan our imaginary holidays.
“In between building tents and tunnels out of pillows and blankets, drawing, playing hide and seek, baking cookies, and other creative activities, I try to find some time to study, read or experiment with stuff (I’m a science guy). I find it hardest to try to focus on work when the little one keeps on bugging me with cute things and questions.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help”
“I have five children. I am actively involved in homeschooling my three eldest, which mostly means keeping their motivation levels up given they are teenagers. We have agreed on specific times during the day when they can ask me questions or discuss any issues they might have. My six-year-old daughter needs more attention, so she sits with me during the day. It’s quite nice – I feel like I have a colleague around.
“It took some time to adjust to the new normal. I am fortunate to have a nanny looking after the twins. I’m busy with work calls the whole day so I try to make the most of my ‘me time’ early in the morning before the ‘madness’ begins. I listen to music, exercise, read, or simply enjoy my coffee in the garden. It helps me clear my mind and stay sane, which is a relative concept with five children under the age of 14. We are going through unprecedented circumstances and my heart and thoughts go out to those in need. We’re not alone in this. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, talk to colleagues, friends and family.”
“I feel like hiding in the basement”
“Our boys are 8 and 10 so they still need our support with their schoolwork. My wife and I take turns in attending meetings online and helping them out.
“I started a master’s degree in September, which is going at full speed now. Sometimes, when I need to focus on work and writing my paper, and my children are fighting in the background, I feel like hiding in the basement for a while. Despite having days like that, I’m grateful to have created beautiful moments with my family. My youngest has a visual impairment issue and has been afraid of riding a bike for years. Taking 15 minutes every day to cycle with him did the trick and he loves riding his bike now.”