Working from home in the summer holidays

Working from home comes into its own in the summer holidays, especially when older children sleep most of the day.

Teenagers sleeping


It’s the holidays and the beauty of working from home and having teenagers is that they sleep most of the morning and are fairly self sufficient, apart from needing lifts at all times of the day and night. The slight drawback is that when they wake up they tend to occupy the living room which is where I work and lounge around generally, eating stuff and putting the tv on or playing guitar.

That means that for meetings I have to retire to the bathroom or to their rooms [my partner works in our room most of the time – how come he has only recently started working from home and has bagged a room all for himself while I share the living room?]. This can make for some interesting backdrops. I realised on one occasion that there was a half naked man behind me [‘it’s art, mum’] while I was doing a zoom call so I had to judiciously place my body in the space right in front of said poster.

Only son lives in semi-darkness, meanwhile. He doesn’t like people looking in on him even though we live in a fairly remote spot. Yet he also hates the dark. It’s a strange energy-intensive combination as it means he has the light on a lot of the time. I have had many conversations about the electricity bill, but every time I open the curtains a little he closes them back up.

I am trying to get him to read a book. This is now my life’s work. I have tried various different tactics. First was Harry Potter accompanied by a Harry Potter film marathon. Then came books on news topics – with short chapters [Harry Potter was too long] as he expressed an interest in the news. Then came Gothic stuff, appealing to his emo side. More recently, I have tried him on Agatha Christie’s the Murder of Roger Ackroyd, surely the best of the bunch. He has got to chapter four and stalled. And now I have forced him to read the biography of Radiohead, his all-time favourite band. Surely he wants to know more about them than is available on Youtube and TikTok???? He has so far read the introduction [five pages] and chapter one. We’ve had chats about what he learned. He says he knew most of it already.

We’ve also had conversations about digital literacy and not taking things at face value. This is the boy who did a musical at primary school with the song ‘I heard it on the internet, it must be true’ – a cunning attempt to get children to doubt what they read on the net. He thinks he knows it all already and that I am prone to catastrophising because I am hooked on the news [I’m a journalist!] and therefore not to be paid attention to. I tried talking about deep fakes.

The problem with our conversations is that he mainly doesn’t want to have them so they turn into me ranting, which doesn’t really work. I tried to impress upon him the sense that TikTok doesn’t have all the answers and that he needs to make sure he is challenging himself by thinking about different viewpoints. That is what education is about, I said. Not sitting in classrooms rote learning. It’s about learning to think and thinking matters hugely for so many reasons, including understanding different points of view and being able to distinguish what is more likely to be fact, fantasy or wishful thinking. Perhaps it was a bit of a heavy topic for the first weeks of the summer holiday…

Meanwhile, all the young people are honing their cookery skills. Which would be a good thing if they also worked on their washing up technique. They seem to be very, very good at using lots and lots of pans where one might do.

Also, they complain about being bored a lot or just loll around looking bored, but turn their noses up at any suggestions on my part – house renovation, garden clearance, Oppenheimer [which doesn’t work for only son], pet training, long walks in the countryside/to the Co-op, yoga, trips to museums/galleries [the free ones], starting a family band along the lines of the Partridge family, etc.

So far they have been cycling about three times. Daughter two has been working [from home] on and off and daughter three is looking for a job. They play guitar a lot, talk to their friends for hours on end [but simply grunt at their parents] and daughter three has been painting and wants to make the living room dark red. Mainly, though, they have been watching tv. Today it was how to spot a cult leader. Daughter two missed the point slightly and has decided to become a cult leader. They must have exhausted the entire repertoire of Netflix by now. The other day they were watching Bridget Jones for the 1,000th time.

It will all change next month and daughter two will be at university, daughter three will [hopefully] be in a job and only son will be back at school. It’s just a short boredom hiatus and I’m a little bit envious, to be honest.

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