‘There are those who are born to teach, and those born to scream silently into a pillow as feral children beat each other’: This relatable homeschooling account will make you LOL


The burden of education is falling into the hands of the women who have already grown them, birthed them and defecated in a room full of strangers for them.

by Sophie McCartney |

Link to GLAMOUR MAGAZINE original article

In the immortal words of White Snake… ‘Here I go again… on my own’.

Homeschooling During Lockdown

Homeschooling… it’s a word I, along with most parents of sound mind, hoped would die out in 2020 – taking ‘bubble’, and ‘TikTok’ down with it. Little did we know that as we were all jubilantly flipping December the ‘Vs’ and making unachievable fitness resolutions – COVID had also opted for the approach of, ’New Year, New Me!’

That’s right! We waved goodbye to that old, passé strain which was SO last season and hello to the brand new, improved ‘Revenge Body’ variation. Now we all know variation is the spice of life… unless you work, own ‘spirited’ children and you value your mental health.

Watching Boris Johnson address the nation on the 4th January, I had a sinking sensation in my gut. I was stress shovelling the last of the Christmas cake into my aghast pie hole while fighting back burning tears of despair at the prospect of reprising my role as a slightly less drunk version of Annie’s ‘Miss Hannigan’. The best news of all, this time I was going be doing it without any help and with a RECEPTION AGE CHILD thrown in for good measure.

A TUC report released on 14th January has highlighted the huge impact homeschooling is having on working families, and as it did in ‘Lockdown the First’ the burden of education is falling into the hands of the women who have already grown them, birthed them and defecated in a room full of strangers for them. Come on lads, have we not done enough?! Apparently not. Out of the 55,630 self-selecting respondents – 93% were female. Nice to see the gender gap is still alive and well, almost a reassuring constant in these dark and uncertain times.

In the survey, which sounds scarily like a 1950s version of ‘Family Misfortunes’ (with zero chance of doubling your money), can you guess how many mums said they were negatively affected by stress and anxiety? ‘And our survey said… Nine out of ten!’ NINE. It’s no wonder, really, is it? I can say, hand on heart, I’m 100% in that camp. There are those who are born to teach, and those who are born to scream silently into a pillow as feral children beat each other with phonics flashcards.

My brain is constantly foggy with everything I have to do. Everyday feels like ground hog day… Eat, teach, shout, get interrupted on Zoom, repeat. To add to that, I’m turning into an actual hog. I’m neglecting myself horribly (this is bottom of the priority list) and living on a diet of biscuits and caffeine. Every time my Apple watch tells me to stand up, I walk to the cupboard and get another snack – which, I’m fairly sure, defeats the object of a fitness tracker. The nation’s PE teacher, poor old Joe Wicks, is doing his best to motivate us by saying ‘we’ll never regret a workout’ – but here’s the thing Joe, we will also never regret a gin and tonic.

Women, by nature, are brilliant multitaskers – but sometimes it can be to our detriment, there’s an assumption we’ll just crack on until we literally crack. Yes, some of us chose to have babies, but that doesn’t mean we chose this life… Who would?! I had a message from one of my teacher friends who was on the absolute brink of a breakdown – homeschooling her own kids while remote teaching a class of thirty, all whilst breastfeeding her baby. Madness. The guilt we feel is immeasurable, and it’s for everything. I’m so conscious of not spending enough time with the kids during the day. I worry it’s damaging their own mental health. When I’m not badly explaining a maths equation (someone changed counting BTW) they’re shoved in front of the TV or Nintendo while I’m constantly playing catch up with emails, calls and deadlines. I have a deep routed fear my youngest is going to grow up thinking Super Mario is a real, and somewhat eccentric, Italian uncle. Every night, when the kids are finally asleep, I creep into their rooms and promise that tomorrow I’m going to do better… come 9am, we’re still trapped in the same shouty, stress loop. We need help. No woman is an island, although I’m pretty sure some UK mums would like to be right now… the British Virgin Islands.

The female species has been put in the impossible position of juggling everything, and catching nothing. We are now not only mothers but teachers, chefs (can we just take a minute to talk about the snacks?), cleaners personal trainers, receptionists to the Amazon man, and motivational life coaches to small people who are more concerned about catching Pokèmon than Covid.
There are not enough hours in a day, month or year to sustain a working day incorporating all of these roles. I’m self-employed. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Furlough isn’t an option for me, but then it doesn’t appear to be an option for employee mums either in accordance to TUC, with seven out of 10 having had their requests denied – many are now taking paid and unpaid annual leave just to manage. Great holiday we’re all having – Google’ing ‘What the hell’s a noun phrase?’ whilst mopping up the 100th spilt cup of juice of the day. Just like Ibiza.

No one enjoys homeschooling. Not even the kids, who initially thought homeschooling was going to be a blast, until they realised Mummy school was an absolute sht show filled with lots of passive aggressive chat about Daddy being ‘out’ at work, followed by a full blown argument when he dares to suggest he’s had tough day spent will fellow adults not sounding out s-h-e-d for the thousandth time. Pretty sure my Ofsted rating is ‘Fck Awful’.

My advice to anyone else who feels as though they’re living in a constant game of ‘The Crystal Maze’ would be to just do whatever it takes to get through this. You can only do what you can do. If you need to plonk them in front of the TV so you can get through a work call without being asked to wipe an arse, then do it. We will always feel guilty, it’s in a mother’s DNA to feel guilt about anything and EVERYTHING – but take some solace in the fact you are not alone and we’re surely over the hump of it now. We have to be. The vaccination scheme is moving forward, this time round we have an exit strategy. So stay strong, positivity is key – as is asking for help, along with pushing for your employment rights, and finally… don’t forget your gin and phonics.

Follow Sophie’s homeschooling journey on Instagram @tiredandtested.