So, how do we homeschool when parents are ill? That is something I have been asked a couple of times, usually by people who have, the admitted advantage that they can still send their children to school when they themselves are unwell, rather than having to worry about looking after themselves whilst also making sure their kids are kept occupied and busy.
I will admit that at the stage we are at, what we do is applicable to us because our son is almost 13, and can make himself a basic meal, can be left to do activities if I need to nap or rest and can be asked to do jobs to help or for himself. When he was younger (we started when he was 8 years old) it was a bit trickier because he was less independent and did need adult supervision to a greater level and even younger children will also need that and as always, I don’t share what I or we do, to make other parents feel that we have got it all right, and they are doing it wrong, or that our way is better so this post is simply sharing how we make things work for us and if that helps anyone, all the better.
Because I do have most of the responsibility for homeschool at the moment, as I only work part time, and we agreed that it would be my main role, it does fall down to managing when I am ill, although if both of us are ill, or Dad is particularly busy with his work, it can be a juggle. If I am unwell and he can step in or at least supervise then it helps but sometimes we can’t work it that way.
So how do we make it work?
I usually have a fair bit of planned work ready in advance for him, and I do a weekly plan so we all know what needs to be done, our activities, and routine. So if I am unwell there is at least something in place. It sometimes might the case where he does his schoolwork and I am resting and able to help him, or at least be around to keep an eye on him.
We also use some online resources and tutor sessions as part of our week’s homeschool, so those continue. Maths and French carry on and it gives mum an hour to rest.
Spaces like Numerise are really helpful, because he can work on curriculum maths independently and I can check on his work and set him tasks.
Screen time rules go out the window…
We usually have fairly strict rules around screen time, but when the adults are ill, those are loosened. We balance the need for some educational input so content around that is useful but we also do movies and tv programmes and rest. He plays online chess with friends too.
Activities to keep busy:
We love things like knitting, painting, and diamond painting, and those are super useful to keep him busy and not too bored. We also encourage reading and he often will sink himself into a book for a few hours. Lego is also a great tool and resource.
It is always a bit of a re juggle but we do have enough tools to make it work. He also loves to help with things like cooking when I am not feeling well, and will happily either help me or take over making a meal, or prepping food, and at his age, that’s a good life skill for him to have anyway. We don’t expect him to care for us or carry us when we are not well, but learning to be indendent and being able to manage are useful for him and it helps us to know he can.
Asking friends for help:
This is the big one. During lockdowns and Covid times that was tricky and it is harder when you are the minority in your circle of friends who is home educating, and their children are at school or they themselves are working but we have been very lucky to have a small group of people we can call on to help if we are ill. When his Dad had myocarditis, we were so grateful for the people who stepped in, and help us with the basics of parenting including taking him for a few hours, supervising him doing some work, taking him to activities and making sure he got normal. Asking for help can be a big step, particularly if like us you don’t have family close by, to be there, but sometimes you can and do need to. Obviously, if you have something contagious, then that all goes out the window.
So we make it work. Homeschool when parents are ill isn’t always easy and whilst I make it sounds like we have it totally sussed, there are definitely moments when it feels frustrating and we are generally relieved when Mum and or Dad are back to feeling better and we can function again. We don’t beat ourselves up that life has been disrupted though, because life will go back to normal and we will catch up.
We do our best to manage because parenting life does throw curveballs. Isn’t that what most parents do?