A year in lockdown: Remote working while homeschooling is no child’s play
When news of the first Covid-19 case surfaced I had already prepared myself mentally for a tumultuous period ahead, little did I know that my life would not only change when it came to being more health aware but my day-to-day life as I know it would be a thing of the past.
When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a national lockdown I had already started working from home and my five-year-old daughter had just completed her first term as a grade R scholar at a private school in Stellenbosch.
I thought this would be temporary.
I prayed that by the time the second school term starts all would be a little bit better. I was wrong.
Apart from my very demanding job as a journalist, I was tasked with another absolutely demanding job - being a teacher. I was tasked with continuing a qualified teacher’s job at home, something I have no training nor experience in. Did I mention that I’m also the most impatient person ever – and yet, my five-year-old drives me nuts?
With a little bit of learning and some assistance from teachers, plenty of video calls and back and forth texting, I was able to do my share of “teaching” until the glorious moment when Education Minister Angie Motshekga gave the green light for schools to reopen.
On June 6, I transported my little one to school fearful of the risk of exposing her to crowds, but as I said, this was the best solution for both of us.
Her school is following the hybrid system, which means she is at school every second day and she does online learning on the days in between.
On the days that she is at school I am able to do a little more of the work I get paid for. But on the days when she is home, my day is split between my work and monitoring her as she sits in an online class, offering assistance from time to time.
While online learning ensures she does not miss a day of school it has affected my schedule.
There are days when I feel like the schools do not cater for working moms, I mean, she is in Grade 1 now but she gets so much work and it’s sometimes so complex that I need to Google some of these new methodologies or terms, taking time away from my “real work” again. Who knew that at Grade 1 they get assignments and projects? And then there’s the Physical Education class that I sometimes need to be her partner in. How? When? There is not enough hours in a day, my head screams.
Apart from the demands of my physical presence, financially, the lockdown has left a dent in my budget.
Electricity is used up faster because both my laptop and her laptop are constantly connected to plugs for charging. Then there is data usage, 20gigs is not enough to sustain both of us. And data doesn’t come cheap.
As a working mom, the lockdown has forced me to think outside of the box, rework my routine so that it involves her school life and activities too. It has forced me to take a deeper interest in her school work, understand her more and definitely spend more time with her.
While it’s a privilege for me because I work from home, I know of many parents who don’t work from home who struggle daily to teach their children. It’s not that they don’t care, but we get tired when we get back from work, teaching is foreign to us, and with the new school curriculum, what we learnt at school ages ago is not the same thing that is being taught.
A year of lockdown has been a year of change.