As I come to the end of eight long weeks with my children home from school and Canberra in lockdown, I have mixed feelings about their return to school.
It has been extremely challenging at times. Each member of our family has had a meltdown at least once (I may have had more than one). We haven't always been able to get the schoolwork done, and there have been days when all we managed to do is cuddle up on the couch and watch movies. There have also been days when everything has worked so well that I have given myself a pat on the back and considered home schooling long term. That feeling came and went pretty quickly though.
I have enjoyed seeing how my children's teachers run the class, and have had a rare insight into what they learn each day. I have realised that my children are a lot smarter than me already, and they are learning so much more than I did at the same age. I will be very grateful not to have to answer their questions about vertical addition, synonyms and phonemes. Best left to the experts I think!
I am very grateful for the time we have spent together, and realise that it is unlikely to ever happen again. I feel lucky to have had this extra time with them when they are at an age where we can appreciate it. They have handled the entire process incredibly well, considering what a massive impact it has had on their lives. As anxious, frustrated and fearful as I have felt over the past few weeks, I know children are feeling it 10 times more - and when you take that into consideration, they have coped so well.
In fact, it has only been since the announcement of school returning and in the first couple of days back that the cracks have started to appear. They just got used to this new normal at home, and now there's another big change. My kindergarten girl is pretty much starting school all over again. I have seen signs of anxiety and regression this week. Both are waking overnight and having trouble falling asleep by themselves, and they are extremely emotional. I am looking forward to the return of a more normal routine, and they are so excited to be back with their friends and teachers.
I am proud of them, of myself and of my husband for muddling through this unprecedented situation and coming out the other side - perhaps not better or stronger, but certainly no worse off. We will remember this time forever, but it won't define us.
- Christy Kidner is an editorial assistant at The Canberra Times.