This week, we talked to Lisa Latham, one of our fantastic volunteers who campaigned during the 2019 election and recently welcomed a new baby into the COVID-19 world. We wanted to check in with her to find out how homeschooling her children and tackling life in this new world has been.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Lisa, I live with my partner Rory and our three children, Charlie 6, Lucy 4 and Evie who is 15 weeks old. Rory and I both work in advertising. I am currently on maternity leave.
How has life changed for you since lockdown?
Life has slowed down and got a lot simpler and in our own safe bubble, we have been able to look at the positives and appreciate the time we have been given to spend at home with our children. Whilst it comes with its challenges and worries, it’s also something to be grateful for. We really miss seeing our family and friends, but we’ve been having zoom calls every day and one plus of lockdown has been that our general knowledge has improved exponentially due to the number of quizzes we are putting together and playing! We moved to a new house 10 days before lockdown in fact – we were incredibly lucky to move when we did, as my brother who was in the process of buying a house and was due to complete a week after lockdown, has had the whole sale fall through.
In normal circumstances, we perhaps wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get to know our new neighbours quite so quickly but due to lock down, the community is more active, we chat over the garden fence and on Thursdays during the Clap for Carers and so we feel really fortunate in that sense too. We have also been able to explore the area much more than we would have in normal circumstances, as we take daily walks for our hour of exercise.
You welcomed a new baby a few months ago – how has that been?
It hasn’t quite been the maternity leave I had planned. Evie was only 6 weeks when lockdown started and only our immediate family and a handful of friends had met her, which sadly is still the case today. Her grandparents are desperate to see her and her brother and sister again soon. But it is a small price to pay vs saving lives and one we are happy to live with. On the plus side, it’s been nice to have the support of Rory at home and as a family we have all been able to bond with Evie as we are a unit 24-7 now!
Are you home-schooling your children at the moment?
Yes. We are home-schooling as much as we can without it causing unnecessary stress and strain. I’m fortunate that my kids are young. Charlie is in year one and Lucy is due to start in reception in September, so the schoolwork isn’t too much of a challenge! The difficulty comes with having a pre-school child in the house and so we’ve found the biggest struggle has been trying to teach the different age groups. Lucy should be mostly learning through play, whilst Charlie has real schoolwork to do and juggling the needs of both is hard. Charlie often questions why Lucy can colour in whilst he has to do maths and that’s fair enough. We try to get them both learning together but it’s tricky. We usually play alphabet games with Lucy which Charlie helps to invent and then we go through year one workbooks with Charlie. The afternoons are spent doing activities such as gardening, baking, arts and crafts.
There are days when home schooling just isn’t going to happen though and, on those days,, we just switch off and allow a day off. We didn’t take the Easter holidays and continued to school throughout, so we don’t feel guilty about missing the odd day here or there. Mental health and staying sane are more important.
Can you share any home-schooling tips?
My only advice would be to not let yourself get too stressed. At the age my two are at, there doesn’t need to be a full day planned out. We try to do 20 mins of phonics, 20 mins of reading and writing and 20 mins of maths a day and that is plenty for the age group.
How do you feel the government has reacted to COVID-19? What do you wish they could do more?
I feel the government have really lacked in their response. They have been slow, ill prepared and confusing. I can’t understand the decisions they have made that go against what the rest of the world have been doing, despite the benefit of being weeks behind and able to look at their responses and react accordingly. I’m incredibly worried about their plans for easing lockdown. I won’t be sending Charlie (year one) back to school in June. I don’t think it’s safe yet and I think the government are putting wealth before health. I think they should share the science behind their decisions, and I also hope there will be an investigation into their responses once we are in a better and safer place. My trust in this government is at an all-time low. How they can call the second highest death toll a success beggars’ belief.
Are you feeling anxious or stressed at the moment due to the pandemic? What is the most stressful thing for you?
I was glib about CV-19 at first because our government and media played down the seriousness. As it became very apparent this was something to take seriously, I did become more anxious and I’ve had a few nights where sleep has been difficult, which isn’t ideal with a new-born baby! I worry for my family who are hours away in Lancashire, I worry about Charlie who has asthma and has been hospitalised in the past with viral induced asthma attacks and is therefore vulnerable to Coronavirus. The fact that children seem to be less affected is a relief, but it still plays on my mind with Charlie. I worry about a second wave as the easing of lockdown begins, in my opinion, too early and with messaging which is reckless and deliberately confusing.
I also worry about the impact of pressing ahead with Brexit when we are heading for a global recession. Walking away from our European partners and trying to trade on our own at this time seems like the most irresponsible thing we could possibly do.
How are you feeling for life post-lockdown?
I miss people. I miss my friends and family. I’m looking forward to the celebrations once this is over. I hope there will be street parties all across the country! And in advance I’d like to apologise to everyone I come into contact with – I’m a hugger and they will all be squeezed for longer than they may feel is necessary!