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Confessions of a working mother: Will working at home ease those homework pressures?

By Karen Ireland

One of the reasons why I dread the start of March each year is that it heralds parent teacher interview time.

With the three boys all at my old primary school, I can't help but feel about 10 years old again myself each time I step through those school doors.

It still looks the same and smells just like I remember it, which adds to the nerves as I go to my interviews and try to fit into one of the small seats that I once sat on. I half expect to be told off or given lines. And now twice a year I've got to go and sit through three different progress reports and try to digest each one without muddling up who said what about which son.

Every parent wants to hear that their child is top of the class and excelling in everything so I suppose it is natural to be anxious and nervous.

However, I especially wanted to get good reports this time round as I wanted to convince myself that my decision to work from home was having a good effect on the boys and rubbing off on their schoolwork and progress.

Thankfully, they are holding their own and doing well. There are, of course, ‘must try harder areas’ where Tom and I will have to put in that extra bit of work. So I've declared homework time a TV, laptop and a BlackBerry free zone when we concentrate on getting homework done. It can be chaotic, with one doing fractions, one comprehension and one learning new words.

Turns out you can't win anyway. My middle son asked me the other night when they were getting a new childminder. I tried to explain that with me working from home we didn't need one — to which he retorted: “But a childminder plays with us.”

Talk about feeling 2ft tall. Now in the schedule of homeworks, teas and baths, karate and play practice — I have to squeeze in playtime, too.

And speaking of learning lessons I learnt a very valuable one at the weekend. You know the way they tell you after an anaesthetic not to do too much or to make any important decisions for 24 hours? Well I found out there is actually a reason for that.

I had a small anaesthetic at the weekend for a minor procedure and was sent home to rest which I did all day on Saturday. But when Teo woke me on Sunday with a 7am trumpet fanfare I decided to get up, get the troops ready and go to church.

This decision — still very much within the 24-hour period — was to see me very red-faced being wheeled out of a packed church in a wheelchair after I fainted. Seems the doctors (and my husband who was of course up the mountains but nevertheless told me not to go) know best.

I remember very little apart from someone telling me to put my head between my knees — and I also had a flashback of fainting in the middle of a primary school assembly when they were saying the Lord's Prayer.

This time we were singing and, according to a good friend, I swayed and went down with a lot of grace.

Mortified and shaking through embarrassed tears that I had created a fuss (apparently there were lots of people flocking around me at the front of the church) just as the minister was starting his sermon and wondering how to follow my act. It was a long journey back up the aisle in the wheelchair so I have resorted to learn to do what I am told in future. Now if I could just relay this to the boys ...

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