By Allison Meldrum
It’s been five long months since we entered lockdown. There have been fun times, there have been tough times and there have been times that I almost ran screaming from the house just to escape the claustrophobia of life in lockdown with my family. Whom I love, immensely.
Many countless other parents the land over, just like me, have been brought to tears (often before their children) at the relentless uphill challenge of home schooling, silently willing teachers and schools to re-open so that we can gratefully and respectfully welcome them back in to our lives.
Yet, when this moment finally arrives and I pack my precious cherubs back through the school gates with their slightly oversized new schoolbags and shiny shoes (for one day only), out of no-where I catch a lump in my throat and a wave of something very unfamiliar washes over me.
I’m missing them already.
So why is it that after putting our heart and soul in to juggling the competing domestic and professional demands of lockdown for almost half a year, when the time comes to wave goodbye for six whole hours without them, some of us are left feeling a little bereft?
1. We are creatures of habit and the ability to adapt is in our DNA.
We have evolved to adapt to our environment and very clever scientists tell us so. According to a report in The Scientific American , the director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (what a job title!) Rick Potts said: “In such a world, the ability to think creatively, to imagine novel solutions to survival threats, proved to be a major asset.” In short, humans have adapted to more challenging environmental changes than lockdown because we have to. And having our nests full of demanding youngsters has become our new normal.
2. Much as we tried our best, teachers have magic powers over our children.
I appreciate every parent has had a different experience with home schooling. Some have loved every rewarding minute of being so actively involved in their child’s learning. For others, ensuring your child keeps on top of their homework while working yourself may have left you feeling unable to do either to the best of your ability. Teachers are fully trained professionals who have experience and knowledge of how to make young minds work that we bystanders may never fully understand. And it all happens in an environment where they are taught to share and work together. But, the best news is, at least a little of this stays with them when they come home at the end of the day which makes for greater harmony all round.
3. When children have a routine, everyone is happier.
Ah, those halcyon first few days of the summer holidays where the mornings don’t start with battles to find matching socks, water bottles and get out the door in time to make the school bell. In life before COVID we have earned that schedule-free abandon that comes with the summer holiday break. But by now many of us are lost in a strange haze of ‘what day is it?’ , ‘Is there anything to see or do today?’ and before we know it , it’s lunchtime , everyone is bored and the house is destroyed. Painful as those first few mornings of term time may be, we know deep down that it will be worth it at the end of the day when we’re rewarded with the outside chance of a decent bedtime all round.
4. We have stories to tell each other again at the end of each day.
Ok, so it’s be great to enjoy shared experiences with our nearest and dearest for such an intense period of time and there’s no doubt we will look back on these days with a sense of nostalgia about our lockdown DIY projects or Joe Wicks workouts. But, there’s something special about listening to the little adventures your family have been on themselves – without you - at school with their friends or teachers and, who knows, maybe they’ll remember to ask about your day again too!
5. We miss them, simply because we’ve been given the opportunity and space to do so.
It’s a funny old thing being a parent, isn’t it? For, as much as I’ll stand by the claim that it’s the hardest job in the world, it’s also the best. And, in the same way that we look back on our own childhood with stronger memories of the really fun stuff, it’s very possible that as we wave the little darlings off to school again our minds will suddenly be flooded with all the very special moments we shared during lockdown. You know, that one day when home schooling went well or the way they hammered on those pans and clapped their hearts out every Thursday night alongside their neighbours. We do love our children so very much but we’ll adore them just that little bit more when they come home to us again after their first day back.