kids

"She's scared of being without me." I'm homeschooling my 5 year old in lockdown and she's regressing.

Picture this. 

After years of trying, you find out you’re pregnant. You carry this baby inside you. 

You birth her, feed her and stay up all night with her. You teach her to say important words like ‘Mamma’ and ‘Gilmore Girls’. 

You witness her first steps, which she took in front of all the other kids at mother’s group who are yet to crawl properly. 

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You eventually emerge from the bliss/nightmare that is maternity leave and experience another first - sobbing uncontrollably at your boss when he asks you how the first day of childcare drop off went.

You and your girl both get used to this new phase of parenting and you realise that looming not far off is the next BIG first. The first year of school. You picture yourself managing lunchboxes and making new mum friends, and most importantly for your darling, yet intense, only child - rules, structure and learning that other people provide. 

You know this will be another transition that will be hard, but you thank your lucky stars that school is a 14 year patch of upbringing for your child that you don't really have to be there for. Nor are you really in charge of. 

You even look forward to sitting down at the kitchen table to do homework together, cause you will absolutely be one of those mums that will get involved, but not so involved that you have to bake cakes. 

Finally, the day arrives. You send her off into the world to start her life as a ‘learner’. The first week of school is joyous. 

The next few are tough with lots of emotions but for the most part you both get through it and yes it’s harder than expected but nothing either of you can’t handle.

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To top it off your little girl is quite smart (not genius level yet but she will totally get there) and is making friends and finding her place in the world. 

And then, a global pandemic hits, and your life crumbles.

OK yes, a little dramatic but I am a Melbournian living in the strictest COVID-19 lockdown measures the world has seen to date and so I feel I am entitled to dramatics. Indulge me. 

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While many leapt into OG lockdown with hope and a curiosity of how this experiment would play out, for me it began with being stood down from my job and getting my five-year-old back full-time to be homeschooled. 

Overnight, I went from being an ‘out and about’ mamma who was sending her Preppy off to school and kicking career arse during the day, to having no job, no life, and homeschooling. Things I never, ever wanted for myself. Ever. Ever.  

My partner, a school teacher himself would be locked in one room teaching other people’s children while I, a woman totally unequipped to teach anything was in charge of our daughter’s education. 

It started well (ish). We schooled in the morning and played (ok, watched tv) in the afternoon. 

We had a ‘two song dance break’ between subjects and fully voiced Elsa and Anna dolls would turn up to class often for a bit of encouragement (out of which frankly I got some great Instagram content).  

This was the honeymoon period. For all that was wrong with COVID-19 for my daughter, the truth is she got her busy mum back. She got my attention in play and learning. 

She had Mummy around 24/7 and she was living the dream. But then it began to unravel. 

I went back to work and so homeschool became what happens in between Mummy’s Zoom meetings. Soon, morning literacy classes became real life lessons on how to eat chocolate mousse for breakfast. 

Afternoon TV became morning and afternoon TV.

‘Bedtime’ became whenever you decide you're tired. You fall asleep on the couch because nothing means anything anymore and Western time rituals are arbitrary. 

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Some of you will be reading this and saying the same thing I think every day: I have one child - it can't be that hard. 

The thing is, with one child in lockdown I’ve learned that I am now her mother, her teacher and her only friend. 

There is not a second of the day that she doesn’t want me by her side. Not a moment or activity that she doesn’t want to share with me.

That, quite frankly is exhausting. And the feeling is intensifying exponentially. 

With every passing day and constricting of lockdown laws, my girl becomes more and more clingy. The painful thing is now watching her lose her hopeful concept of the outside world. 

The thought of going back to school, that new place, with all the new people she met for a few weeks forever ago is now terrifying to her. 

My five-year-old has gone from a girl who is curious about the world to being scared of anything new, scared of being without me. She's now a girl who sees school as weird and stressful and not worth it when Kinder (a blissful pre-COVID year of friends and fun) was so much better. 

How do I now convince her when she goes back that school is worthwhile when I've spent the last six months convincing her that being at home is the best thing for her? 

In a year when she was supposed to hit important, developmental milestones, my daughter has regressed in many ways. 

Tasks she could do independently and with ease have become scary again.

She clearly expresses feelings of loneliness and sadness. "Sometimes I wonder if I am the only kid in the whole world," she says…#Sobbing

No matter how fun I make life, this year and extended lockdown has meant we've all gone backwards in so many ways. No longer do I look to the many firsts ahead of us. Now I focus on surviving. The day. This year. This moment in time. 

What’s it like being a mum in Melbourne Stage 4 lockdown? It sucks. No grandparents or cousins. No school to share the load. No friends and play dates. No public parks, activity centres, services and libraries. Just me and her. 

It’s hard.  

Send cake. 

Feature Image: Instagram / RanaBHussain

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