Schools closed here in Victoria a week and a half ago, but only a few days before school holidays were scheduled to begin. Other states are still struggling along, but doubtless they will go to holidays and not come back for some time. Because we’re a two-healthcare worker family, our school was able to arrange some “school” (actually, childcare in the school building) for a couple of days, but now we’re into holiday mode.
We’ve started homeschooling earlier than we strictly needed to. Big Girl needs a lot of structure in her life, and it seemed like a smarter idea to get her into the rhythm of half a day’s school work earlier in the lockdown rather than later. There would have been major tantrums and recalcitrance if we had decided to give them two weeks of slovenly hedonism, followed by a return to parent-mandated study. Little Girl is undertaking “home kindergarten” (mostly pasting things and practicing writing the alphabet), while Littler Boy watches on and occasionally interferes. They’re both settling into the system well – I think that having certain modest expectations of them in the mornings allows them to play freely and enjoy it more in the afternoon. It also helps keep them off the screens.
I’m mildly concerned with how we’re going to manage this after the school holidays end. We had childcare arrangements set up for the holiday period, since we knew it was coming. But there will come a time when Wife and I will both be at work, and probably working longer hours and more days, but without the fallbacks of school (closed), kindergarten (closed), childcare (closed), grandparents (quarantined) and playdates (forbidden) to help us with the inevitable gaps in parental presence.
At least in the short term this won’t be a problem, because I have some annual leave starting shortly. This was planned months and months ago to (mostly) coincide with the school holidays, but it’s going to be surprisingly helpful from a family point of view. Selfishly I am rather miffed that a short solo holiday to Indonesia that I had planned has been cancelled. It’s a long way from the worst thing to happen to anyone, but I was really looking forward to it. Wife also had a conference cancelled, which was frustrating because it was going to be a chance for her to get away from the grind of normal life for a while, without triggering parental/professional guilt too much.
The hard part about going on leave is that I feel really guilty about not going to work! It seems like we’re all under the pump, which is likely to get worse, but here I am at home, twiddling my thumbs. I should be out there being useful!
But in all honesty, I know that this is not actually a problem. April will be busy, but May will be busier, and I’ll be back at work for that. As some senior managers in my organisation have said, it’s probably better this way because I’ll be back and rested in time for the onslaught.
I can’t be too negative. I’m very aware that I still have a job, when many people in my community have lost theirs, or have had their hours restricted. The employment implications of the lockdown appear to be vast. No matter how hard I have to work in the next few months, and no matter how risky my job becomes, at least I am fortunate enough to have a secure profession which can be useful in a time of crisis.
And in the end, all I want to be is useful. Don’t we all?