I am living for a break from homeschooling hell this midterm

I plan to do my best Pollyanna impression and offer my children a distraction

I look forward to the midterm at the best of times, so it’s no surprise to find myself living for it in the worst of times too. This time around, though, it’s not the break from lunch making, missing-shoe hunting and early-morning rushes that I’m looking forward to, but rather the break from the homeschooling hell we’ve endured for the last few weeks.

Time, it seems, passes very slowly when you’re wishing every second of it away.

Still, I’m determined to do my best Pollyanna impression and I’m hoping that the children can distinguish the (possibly-feigned) enthusiasm in my high-pitched tones this week from the highly-stressed, delirious tones they’ve been used to over the last few weeks.

When it's not teenagers being vilified for chatting with a friend, it's an expectation that small children should be neither seen nor heard

“So lads, what’ll we do this week?” I asked the troops in an attempt to raise the spirits and, if truth be told, in search of inspiration too. There is nothing like a pandemic and all its corresponding restrictions to make you lament your utter lack of crafty skills.


There will be no banana bread baked here, not least because I hate the stuff. Up until recently, baking with the kids involved purchasing plain madeira buns from the shop and icing them. It was all going great until they learned that breaking eggs and butter, sugar and flour featured in most people’s baking. But all has changed and now I’m a one-trick baking pony. These days we make fairy buns from scratch. It’s never too late to upskill, it appears.

Fairy buns alone, however, will not be enough to keep the troops occupied and though I've made my peace with needing to engage the services of virtual babysitters – otherwise known as Netflix, Disney Plus, their tablets and their game consoles – an awful lot more these weeks, I'd still like to make it a nicer week than we've had of late. The problem is everything they'd like to do, all the basics children love, are a no-no.


The old “vector” narrative has done untold harm to how children are perceived in these times and the manner in which it’s acceptable to treat them. The memories of tutting and comments made by those making ill-informed and presumptive judgments as all my children played together on a local green during the first lockdown makes me a little nervous to let them play outside without me, even among themselves.

An air of intolerance appears to have reared its head again and when it’s not teenagers being vilified for chatting with a friend, it’s an expectation that small children should be neither seen nor heard. I worry for the future and what these messages send to our young people who have been heroes throughout. What will be the impact of expecting children to stop being children?

I'll have to get creative over the coming days, whether my lack of craftiness likes it or not

“Can we go see Nana and Grandad?” one smallie asked, wondering if while there we could put in an order for dinner. “Not yet, I’m afraid,” I said, without even the offer of when it might be possible. The others looked at me with blank expressions. “We could try and go to some different places for our walks though,” I offered. Not a flicker of enthusiasm to be seen.

“We’ll get some treats,” I said, knowing that when it comes to chocolate, the apples didn’t fall far from the tree. I was beginning to win them over. “And we’ve all those board games that Santa brought.”


It’ll be a different midterm – we knew that from the start. But the missing of friends and teachers and structure gets harder as the weeks progress. There’s relief that midterm is here and a break from the unsustainable pressures that trying to juggle the impossible has brought. As one child said: “Homeschooling is like having all the bad stuff about school and none of the good stuff.” It’s nice to get a break from the bad stuff at least.

Still, I’ll have to get creative over the coming days, whether my lack of craftiness likes it or not. School is about so much more than education. The impact of school closures on social, emotional and physical development is huge. I cannot make up for all they are missing out on, but I would like to offer a distraction at least. And when best efforts have been exhausted, I’ll be grateful for the help of my virtual babysitters too.

“We’re a week closer to going back to school,” the middle child said. A tad different to the way he felt about things this time last year.

A week closer to early morning rushes, school lunch making and the panicked hunt for missing shoes.

I can’t wait.