If you watch/ed BBC 1 this morning at 8.10am, you’ll see/have seen me talking about why we’re planning to send our daughter back to school on June 1st. I had one minute to give my reasons, so I’m expanding on them here.
Before I start, I just want to make clear a couple of things:
Firstly, this is a hideous decision for us all. If we’re united in anything, it’s feeling that whatever choice we make may turn out to be the wrong call; or, at least, that any decision will bring its own challenges.
So I can say very firmly that whatever you choose to do, I do not judge. We are battling the same storm, but we are not in the same boat, and what’s right for my family will not be for every family.
Secondly, I am not ecstatic about our decision. My heart is screaming and I may yet live to regret our decision – for so many reasons. But I go into this with the knowledge that I can pull my daughter out at any time. And I will at the merest suggestion that she’s finding the situation distressing.
Why We’re Sending Our Daughter Back to School on June 1st
This is why, for now at least, we’ll be trialling a return to school on June 1st:
1. Pixie Wants to Go
I did not, for one second, expect this. I’m choosing to view this as a win at parenting: as I described what school will likely look like now, I hid my apprehension well.
Far be it from me to inhibit our daughter when she is being brave.
2. Homeschooling is Hard
I hold my hands up – I am and never was cut out for homeschooling. I’ve never pretended otherwise. Hell, I’ve (almost) looked forward to having two children in school, so that I can be me again for a large part of my life.
It’s definitely the silver lining of them growing up.
The reality is, right now the girls are being very demanding and I’m home alone with them most of the time. With our youngest still two, it’s almost impossible to facilitate learning beyond the odd book.
3. Nobody is getting the time they deserve
An extension to the previous point:
Pixie needs more of my attention for learning; Elfin needs more of my attention full stop. And my work certainly needs some more attention – I’m writing this in my jammies on the sofa with the TV paused after a cheeky gin, in hopes of cobbling something together in time to publish before my appearance on the beeb. My work is unfinished and it is stressing me out on a daily basis.
And then – of course – there’s the guilt.
School will offer a small reprieve that will benefit us all. Unless it doesn’t.
4. Winter Germs
While I am almost more concerned about Pixie’s emotional wellbeing and development than her physical health, naturally I do still worry about the bastard virus.
I read that since our children are not being exposed to viruses regularly in the way they usually would, their little systems will likely have a lot to contend with come winter time when they return to the classroom. Assuming, of course, that they do. By which time, we’ll also, possibly – probably? – be entering the anticipated second wave of COVID 19.
I do not want to overwhelm her immune system.
It may be a misguided fear. It may be completely incorrect. But it feels sensible to be cautious of the scenario.
5. This May Never End
But ultimately – and this is the one that took me a few days to accept (I’m yet to make peace with it) – we might be living this way for a very long time to come.
I don’t want to believe it, I don’t want it to be the case, but I have come to understand that this might be the closest we ever get to our old life.
This may be our new normal.
That thought leaves me in despair, and I’m mourning the loss of the childhood I wanted to give my children. But if that comes to be the reality we have to live with, then as parents, it’s surely our responsibility to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Typing that out is heartbreaking. It brings me no pleasure. But I believe our children are resilient, and so much of their acceptance comes from taking cues from their parents.
If we tell them it’s going to be okay and sound like we believe it, then they will believe it.
If we tell them this is how it is now, and we can be happy living this way, then they will learn to be happy living this.
If you’re worried about your child, why not try encouraging them to use a journal to identify and process those big feelings with a journal? Check out My First Happy Journal here.
Concerns For Our Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Development
I am so worried for the mental health of our children’s generation. How will they learn to socialise, effectively, deeply, healthily? How does one form bonds with another human from two metres away?
I believe we will find a way. And I believe our children need to return to society in order to thrive.
I just hope our decision doesn’t turn out to be as woeful an error as my certainty that Corona virus couldn’t possibly bring our world to its knees. Now, like then, I remain open to learning more and becoming better informed.
Bottom line? We all love our babies and want what’s best for them. What that looks like will differ from family to family depending on individual circumstances and values, but our decisions will all be rooted in love and hope.