We're tired this week. One weekend a month we all travel back down to London; my partner and I both teach and the children spend the weekend with their dad. My partner actually travels down earlier in the week and we follow on Thursday. The children had a fun time as their grandparents were visiting too and they all went out on Saturday night. We drove home Sunday evening and were caught in heavy snow on the last stretch of our journey. Having been making good time we spent the last hour creeping along ungritted country roads praying that the tyres would remain gripping the increasing layer of snow on the tarmac. We arrived home, safe and well, later than we expected.
This month we are travelling down to London twice to make up for both Christmas and Easter breaks. So my partner leaves again tomorrow and the children and I will be back on the road on Thursday. Which leaves me stuck in a familiar home-school dilemma. Do I, accepting that we are all shattered and did not have our usual weekend down-time, declare two days off? Or do I press on to make up for the four days of lost time? The critical Greek chorus are quick to start: the children need to learn that they've got to get on with work even if they are tired; they are not doing anything educational and so will never get qualifcations and, consequently, jobs; Other women manage to juggle late-nights, work, child-rearing, keeping house and still look wonderful and never shout at their children and therefore I am a weak and ineffective failure; I am not instilling discipline or a good work ethic in my children; I am failing in home-education; and so the list goes on.
But, I am getting better at looking at their lives as a learning opportunity. Yesterday I asked my daughter to phone the horse-rescue charity she supports to let them know her new address. She had a quick and pleasant conversation and came off the phone excited, proud of herself and just a little bit more prepared for life in the grown-up world. She had really enjoyed it, she told us. Really? Would she like to ring a whole bunch of other organizations sending junk mail to our old address and ask to be removed from the mailing list? She spent the next half-an-hour happily calling catalolgue companies and charities. She was polite and clear and confident to answer questions. She developed her social skills, topped-up her extrovert personality and saved us a big job.
My middle son is baking and working on his literacy by catching up on back issues of Top Gear magazine which we picked up from our old address. My daughter has spent this morning cleaning out our chickens and my eldest son is starting work on his online Latin course. It's all happening. It always does. Perhaps I don't need to worry quite so much!