My children do longer days than most working adults

My children do longer days than most working adults
I am a mother of two boys aged 10 and 7.  I’m also a single mother and have worked hard to build a good life for myself and my children but I’m going to be honest I have struggled with juggling my career and fitting this around the education system for a very long time. If it’s not the restriction to hours because of the short school day in comparison with the working day.  It’s the numerous days the kids are sick, on holiday, inset days, polling days, the increasing expectation of homework and the never-ending costs of trips, uniforms and helping the financially burdened schools with donations.

For the luxury of working, it means the day starts earlier than most.  My children have for years experienced longer days that most working adults-7:30am-5:15pm. I have often questioned if I was selfish doing this to them, just so I could continue climbing the proverbial ladder (Having said that a mother’s guilt never ends!) but it comes down to always wanting to make them proud of me, seeing how hard I have worked despite difficulties in life, so they see hard work pays off! 

It’s OK its just an injury!
There were many occasions in the past where the ‘slightest sniffle’ was not enough to keep them off school because I couldn’t afford the comments about being a ‘part-timer’ even though I was doing 40 hour weeks as a single parent in a male-dominated environment.  The feeling of dread you get when you get the school ringing on your phone during training or the office meeting and the relief you feel when the school aren’t asking you to pick the kids up because they are poorly but they have simply bumped themselves at playtime.  (Then you feel guilty for being relieved that they ‘only’ injured themselves) just so you don’t have to face the whispers behind your back when you leave the office. 

Don’t get me started…

Don’t get me started on the number of holidays either!  When the average workplace gives between 20-25 days annual leave, it’s a question as to why is the old system of the 6 week holiday in particular still viable in this age of both parents holding down jobs?  How is a 6 week break even relevant to the modern working UK economy?

I often get frustrated by how quickly the schools’ threaten to fine parents for taking the kids out of school for a week but they are quick to volunteer the school for the polling days…the dreaded year of Brexit, saw even more days of the school shut with local elections to boot.  Apparently, there isn’t a concern for missed days of education and learning when the school offers their premises to voters throughout the days while the local community or church hall sits unused?! But heaven forbid you want to take your child on a holiday, (I always take them to the medieval castle, the stately home or the neolithic burial site-that’s educational right?)

Covid-19 the sledgehammer to the UK educational cracks?
So while there were so many cracks and frustrations in the educational system I have experienced personally.  The days of Covid-19 has taken a sledgehammer to an already outdated system and we are left with a big gaping hole.  The kids are suffering from not being in the classroom.

The effect this will have on the children will be felt for years and not to mention the parents expected to teach the kids at home while trying to juggle jobs or for those furloughed or without work, the prospect of not being able to actively look for work while the kids are out of the classroom.  

I was one of the parents during this time that was furloughed and faced the prospect of having the children at home with me until September or even longer if the 2nd wave reared its ugly head.

While I already felt frustrations with the education system and spending all my hard-earned wages on the wraparound at the school for Breakfast and after school provisions.  The cost of this almost makes working pointless, putting myself through years of racing to and from the office to drop off and collect the kids, adding to the pressures already felt from years in sales environments.  The frustrations have gone stratostrophic!  I understand the schools were thrown into the chaos of Covid-19 like many other organisations but the speed in which other industries adapted and evolved to safeguard their workforces and protect the business for collapse by embracing home working and technology and video calls puts many schools to shame.

During 3 months struggling to homeschool and my children becoming increasingly dis-engaged I received 1 call from a teacher to check on the children.  By this time the damage had been done the children had long rebelled from homeschooling and because of my imminent unemployment I realised my only option in this unprecedented time was to start my own business, so I accept my own failings with homeschooling and openly admit I let them down.  (The mothers’ guilt resurfacing) But I am doing everything I can to survive this crisis and hopefully come out with my head held high.  But can all schools say the same?  Perhaps this highlights the need for more virtual classrooms, more interactive lessons and a drive to embrace technology for work but more importantly for communication with the children.  

Lessons learned
No one knows whether Covid-19 will have a 2nd wave which was more deadly than the 1st.  No one knows when the next pandemic will be but all I know is that having experienced this first hand we have the responsibility as a business community, Country and as parents’ to safeguard childrens’ education in the future and while we are at it if the powers that be can make life easier for working parents by reviewing the lengthy school holidays, the relentless inset days and the need for tutoring focussed homework clubs to help the working parents out it would be a welcome bit of support!
Let’s hope the lessons learned (excuse the pun) will shape a new education system in the UK.  One that is sympathetic to working parents, one that does away with out dated 6 week breaks and one that embraces new ways of learning and supporting innovation of technology in and out of the classroom.