Parents, we salute you. Here are some messages of support to help you feel better about homeschooling or caring for a child throughout a pandemic

With lockdown well and truly underway, parents have been left with little choice but to homeschool their children once again.

Things might be feeling impossible right now. It may feel like there is so much being asked of you – too much, even – and like there is no end in sight.

At Happiful, we might not be able to provide you with the tools or resources to make homeschooling easy, because, well, it isn’t easy. But, what we can do is help you to acknowledge the difficulties, connect with others going through the same thing, and point you towards further help, should you be in a place to take it.

So, here, are five messages of support from people who want to reach out to parents right now. If you just need to feel a bit better about how everything’s going, read them and know that you’re not in this alone.

A letter from a headteacher

A headteacher who admitted to struggling with homeschooling has reached out to fellow parents in a letter telling them “you are doing a great job.”

Sarah White said she was writing “as a mother” and wanted to reassure them that she too was “feeling the strain”. The Lancashire headteacher said her main motivation was to say “Well done! You are surviving a pandemic!”

Mrs White told the BBC, “Last week was a really difficult week as a head and as a parent. Lots of people I knew were really struggling, it just seemed to be that week when lockdown really hit everyone hard.”

In her letter, she wrote, “If your child has lots of microwaved meals, stayed up too late, played too much on the Xbox and not finished all their school work – that's OK! We know our pupils are safe, loved and cared for and that is the most important thing at the moment.”

The letter has been widely shared on social media, prompting a wave of positive comments.

A pep talk from a juggling mum

Anna Mathur, a mum of three, psychotherapist, author and speaker, has shared 60 seconds of ‘lightbulb moments’ that have helped her navigate home learning.

The message for people working remotely throughout the pandemic has been that this is not typical ‘working from home’ – people are at home, during a crisis, trying to work. So, Anna draws a similar distinction for parents.

In her IGTV, she tells viewers, “What we are doing with home learning is not homeschooling.

“Homeschooling is so often an amazing choice that families make. There can be a community of support around them, there can even be training. What we are doing is emergency schooling, and I found that reframing really helpful.”

“Presence over perfection, connection over curriculum. We’re doing the best we can with what we have.”

Advice from a primary school teacher

Teacher, parent and counsellor Catherine Beach has shared some helpful tips to avoid burnout while home learning. In her recent article, she lists various ways to approach homeschooling without compromising you or your family's mental health.

“Not only do I empathise with the strain that is being felt across the nation, I am aware of how easy it is to focus so much on an ever-increasing workload at the expense of our own mental health.

“This can leave us feeling hopelessly frazzled and pretty desperate. If you continue to work like this for the next six weeks, the only thing that is guaranteed is that you will be holding a one-way ticket to 'Burnouts Ville'. Nobody wants that!”

So, if you’re feeling like you’re burning out with so much on your plate, Catherine urges you to drop your standards.

“Teachers aren't expecting perfection from either you or your child,” she says. “Inevitably, the independent work produced by your child may not be quite as accurate as it would be if you were sat beside them. However, their work isn't perfect in class either; learning is a process and children all go at their own individual pace.”

Demands for flexibility from a working mother

Parenting activist Anna Whitehouse aka @mother_pukka is calling for more flexibility on behalf of working parents. She warns that many parents feel at breaking point trying to juggle work and homeschooling and is calling for businesses to show compassion.

In her recent Instagram reel, she said “To those saying to working parents right now ‘It was your choice to have kids, stop whinging’, it was not our choice to do two jobs in one day.

“So many of our minds are on money, on work and that is where our head is, but our heart is here, with our children. You are dividing parents in half and I think we need to turn our attention towards the mental health pandemic and how businesses and companies can support their employees.”

Anna is urging working parents to do what they can to make this more manageable for their families. “If you are in a partnership, consider splitting the furlough so you can share the load and still continue working in some capacity. And read your HR policy. So many of you have done so and realised you are already entitled to 10 days’ paid carers leave.

“More than anything please know you aren’t alone.”

Recognition from a therapist

Person-centred counsellor Lydia Keighley has acknowledged the difficulties this situation has presented for parents. In her article, ‘3 things every parent needs to hear right now’ she shares some key thoughts on why it is important to acknowledge the difficulties parents are living with at the moment.

“You're finding things hard, not because you're in any way inadequate or lacking but because it is hard. Try giving yourself permission today to find it hard, because it really is hard.

“Whatever you have achieved today is enough. You might be putting pressure on yourself to do more, you might be experiencing pressure from others such as employers, school or family members.

“But try to remind yourself at the end of the day, that no matter what got done or didn’t, you did the best that you could with the circumstances that occurred today.”

So please remember that you aren’t alone and it’s OK if you need some help navigating this pandemic and all it’s throwing at you.

Reach out to fellow parents, have a heart to heart and share your highs and lows. Having a rant or a cry can be a big help, don’t underestimate it. Reach out to your employer and discuss the options available to make this easier for you.

If you think you’d benefit from talking with a professional, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can learn more and find a therapist on Counselling Directory.