End of term – we made it!

As Dora the Explorer so rightly said ‘we did it…lo hicimos’. A very difficult school year is over and it’s worth reflecting on all we’ve been through.

Stressed women at laptop


So, we got to the end of the school year [if you’re not quite there yet, hang on in there]. This year has been a complete juggernaut of exhaustion for many parents with homeschooling, bubble closures, Covid infection and more to steer around.

It’s hard to compare with last year, which was sudden and devastating, with much job loss and furloughing, nursery closures as well as homeschooling and so forth, but which, at the time, many thought would be just temporary. Our surveys show many parents found the second lockdown over the winter much harder than the first, in part because of the accumulated exhaustion, not just of dealing with the Covid impact on work and homeschooling/childcare as well as uncertainty and fear about finances for some and general worry about Covid itself, but with managing everyone in the family’s mental health and, for many, coping with bereavement.

Of course, it’s not over yet and confusion continues to reign. Plus so many parents are facing struggles with summer holiday childcare, but we should take a moment to realise how much we have got through.

I didn’t totally grasp how much I have been just about clinging on this year until the very last day of term. My son leaves primary school this year. It’s a huge thing anyway, but on top of that he has had to navigate his way through grief for his sister and through Covid. My daughters have got through the A Level and GCSE years, university applications, sixth form applications, sixth form inductions and more. Every step of the way has been a struggle. Every step has involved encouraging, talking, negotiating a rollercoaster of emotions, trying to get them the counselling they need and just getting through day after day after day.

So to say the last day of term was emotional would be an understatement. People thought I was crying because my son was leaving primary school. In fact I was crying because of everything else and because I had got him to the last day of term.

I was talking to an employer recently about how they are coping with the summer childcare issue. She said her company sees this period as a restorative one “to recuperate after what has been a very difficult year as well as the need to meet with family and friends, taking greater priority than work contact”.

I think that is absolutely right. People have gone through so much – and I know it’s still continuing for many. We need time to acknowledge that and to see this as a stepping stone to the next phase. workingmums.co.uk is for parents, but it’s important to remember that, of course, we couldn’t have done it without the teachers, the counsellors and the support people who have been helping us through it. It has been a collective effort, although sometimes it has felt extremely lonely, and it needs a collective understanding of the impact.

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