Skip to content

The COVID-19 diaries: shut-ins


So it’s 10.32am and the first day of home school, term 2, has started. I am not entirely sure if the children are working, although I have dragged them both out of bed and made them eat a nutritious breakfast. Ever since Easter, Violet has been enjoying her culinary innovation of filling the neighbour’s large hollow chocolate eggs with milk and drinking that whilst nibbling on the edges – there has been some spillage.

When I was at school I had to get my books out and at least perform the act of studying. There were lined refill pages to be filled, essays to be handwritten, text books and novels to arrange around me. Also there was my anxiety that fuelled my study – I had to do what the teachers asked of me, or something terrible would happen. I would fail at life. I would become a drug addict. My friend, who was one of the smartest girls at my school, told me she did her homework in front of the television. I was horrified – how could she concentrate? We didn’t even have a television. I sat at the small desk in my room.

I guess what I am worried about is that this lockdown has exacerbated our 21st century malaise – if we were addicted to our screens before, we’re even more addicted now. If we were reluctant to leave the house and could find fulfilment in simulated realities – well, now the government is discouraging us from going far and our screens are our solace. I know this is for the greater good, and we have a chance of eliminating the virus from New Zealand, but I am worried about the ripple effects… also I am not really cut out for home schooling!

I’m pretty sure we did make a papier-mâché version of the Hindenburg, but according to this comic, it was the Titanic. Maybe we made both… memory is so slippery….

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 15/04/2020 11:01 am

    Great summary of challenges of dealing with screen time. Another challenge is that parents are going to find it very hard to model good behaviour themselves. My belief with our daughter was always that I must model what I wanted her to do. But when you work from home (which I have done for nearly 20 years now), how do children know that what you are doing on the screen is work vs social media or some other form of entertainment? All they can see is the time you are spending. We didn’t have to struggle with this with Sarah because she wasn’t greatly intrinsically interested in computers. I did focus on same rules for all e.g. no screens at the dining table and everyone had to eat dinner together (it was harder to implement for the adults than Sarah!). I wonder if there is utility in everyone having the same computer monitoring software and showing each other the number of hours spent doing different things on the screen e.g. on a weekly basis. I realise that is probably too scientific of me for most people, but it would be a way to discuss the issue and have adults as accountable as children.

  2. 15/04/2020 11:20 am

    Hi there, could you please take me off your email list. Many thanks.

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      15/04/2020 11:51 am

      Hi – is there an unsubscribe button on the bottom of your email? Or could you mark me as spam? Having trouble finding my list of subscribers….

      • Jessica Sandbrook permalink
        16/04/2020 7:28 pm

        This is totally my life right now! Why do teenage boys smell soooo bad when they’ve been sleeping in their room and then stayed in there all day on a device? How am I supposed to keep an eye on what they are doing while trying to do my own work, which to be honest I really don’t give a s#%t about right now. Thanks for helping me not feel so alone in this.!

  3. 15/04/2020 11:54 am

    You certainly have an uphill battle at the moment. We worried that you might start smoking or doing drugs, or even going out after dark. They were concrete things but now it it is the insidious drug of the “Net”. For teenagers it coincides with the natural torpor of adolescence. You need to have a clone who is the “Tiger Mother” that can manage everything while you get on with your work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: