Homework – epic fail

When the Husband and I were mulling over whether to have a third child (which in itself was irrelevant as I was, unbeknownst to me, already up the duff) we talked about all the pros and cons of extending our family from two kids to three. Of all the things we talked about – the fact that we’d need a bigger car and eventually another bedroom for example – not once did one of us turn to the other and say ‘You know, it would mean three sets of homework’. If one of us had, we may well have run screaming for the hills (and then back again when we realised it was too late anyway…)

I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, I remember when my youngest started primary and we went to the welcome evening, where the school homework policy was introduced. I nodded along in agreement as the headmaster described the home learning assignments as an opportunity for parents to be involved in their kids’ school lives, and I also remember looking forward *hollow laugh* to the fun times I’d have with my precious firstborn, doing homework assignments together with just the right amount of maternal guidance, delivered in a non-helicopter fashion of course.

Yeah, RIGHT. Needless to say this is not how it works. In real life, the whole homework experience varies from manageable to meltdown, depending on the child, the topic, how far through the term (and therefore how knackered) they are, and various other factors that I haven’t figured out but for all I know could have something to do with the phases of the moon.

So in order to avoid the whole weekend being overshadowed by my chirpy suggestions to look at the homework page, followed by slightly less chirpy requests, followed by (possibly barked) orders to AT LEAST MAKE A START followed by everyone in a panic on Monday night and me imploding with the effort of not saying ‘I told you so’ through gritted teeth, I came up with a Plan. And it seemed like a good one, on the surface….

Yes, dear reader. I decided that I could in fact manage three kids doing their homework in one sitting, all together around the table. Oh how marvellous! The big ones could help the littlest, and they could all speak in Welsh to each other, and I would be on hand benevolently dishing out pencils and suggestions (again, totes non-helicopter).

I told the Husband. He raised his eyebrows.

‘Well, how difficult can it be?’ I demanded. ‘If their teachers can manage thirty of the critters from 9 till 3.30pm, surely I can manage three for an hour? And my own three to boot??’

It started well, to be honest. For about five and a half minutes, all was peaceful. Then someone stole someone’s pencil. Then the good rubber went missing. Why it was any better than the sixty three other rubbers we have on the house I don’t know, but there you go. Then the youngest got bored of his drawing of our house and decided to help the eldest by ‘writing’ on his pristine new homework book. In the meantime, my girl in the middle asked me if I had any ideas for her class rep election speech (part of her homework assignment) and then proceeded to yell at me when I suggested a couple of things because now I had suggested them, she couldn’t use them, because her homework had to be All Her Own Work and now I had used up her good ideas by saying them first and WAAAAAH. My eldest, who had the same homework, announced it was pointless because he didn’t want to stand as the class rep anyway, so he wasn’t going to bother doing it, then my youngest had a paddy because in Reception there are no such things as class reps and he wanted to be one, and tore up his drawing of a house because it wasn’t PROPER homework like his big brother and sister had. And then cried. While I’m desperately drawing the outline of another house for him to colour in (ok, I helicoptered a bit there) the eldest was leaning over the shoulder of the middlest and nicking her hard won ideas for his homework, for which he got himself a kick in the shins, which apparently is ok because the Famous Five kick each other under the table all the time, Mum, but *shocked face* no, OF COURSE I wouldn’t do it at school, because that kind of behaviour isn’t allowed there (go figure). And all this to the soundtrack of the Husband sniggering to himself in the next room, occasionally calling out words of ‘encouragement’ while regretfully turning down the requests for help because he was snowed under with work. Or the Grand Prix.

Meanwhile I’m trying out classroom management techniques gleaned from the primary schools I visit. Clapping my hands? Fail. Standing and waiting quietly till the noise has died down? Fail. Splitting up troublesome children? I’ve only got one table. Fail. Talk in a progressively quieter voice so they’d have to quieten down to listen to me? Fail. Use unrelentingly positive language with NO SWEARS? Fail, but irrelevant since none of them were listening to a flipping word that came out of my mouth. Threaten to phone the headmaster? YAY, that worked! Guiltily remember a pep talk at the welcome evening about how parents should absolutely not do such a thing. Oh. Fail, then. In fact, epic fail all round…

So. There you have it. My addiction to Educating the East End is officially cured, as is my secret daydreaming every time I see a Teach First advert. And if anyone has any suggestions for surviving the next nine months of weekly homeworks (short of ditching the Husband and marrying a primary school teacher) then please get in touch – you’ll find me hiding under the table with the gin!

Homework Epic Fail

I’ve linked up this post with Sam’s ‘The Truth About’ linky at And Then The Fun Began – head over there for me more posts that tell the truth and nothing but the truth about the joys of parenting!

And then the fun began...

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16 thoughts on “Homework – epic fail

  1. I had exactly the same idea of doing it all together but mine were so much more interested in what everyone else was doing it was disastrous! Also they all seemed to need me at exactly the sane time. I hate homework!!!

  2. I guess you have to find what works for you.
    My son is 15 and I have been fairly hands off added to the fact he would ‘forget’ to tell us about homework until 8:30 Monday morning. When he did homework it involved him dancing on one foot on the corner of a table with books scattered all around. We are fairly surprised but he seems to have successfully navigated school, barring multiple detentions from a desperate history teacher, and is all set to get 11 good exams.

    1. That’s great to hear, good luck to him (and you for the stressful exam season next year…)
      On reflection, I think I’m going to stick with the all-doing-it-together- plan for a few more weeks as it does have the benefit of getting it all out of the way in one go. I just may need to self medicate beforehand, ha!
      LearnerMother recently posted…Homework – epic failMy Profile

  3. I feel your pain … I too thought I could negotiate the children around 1 table on a Friday night doing homework while I did my own (I’m a secondary school teacher) … how wrong I was!

    Now that the boychild has moved to High school and has homework every night, it’s eased off a bit, strangely, as he’s not allowed on the electricals until homework is completed (to my satisfaction), and the Girlchild still only has daily reading and the occasional bit of handwriting practice.

    Gin seems like a reasonable plan, I think!

    1. That made me laugh – but I have heard a few amazing teachers say the same thing! Trying not to think about the secondary school years just yet, though in a way the fact that it’s every night might well make it easier…in the meantime as you suggest I’ll keep at the gin!
      LearnerMother recently posted…Homework – epic failMy Profile

  4. That’s brilliant Michelle – well, not the epic fail bit, but such an honest and funny portrayal of the pitfalls of having three children (or just more than one I reckon – I’ve got all this to come!). My nieces were 9 and 10 when my oldest was born. I had the worst time of my life with that baby and I wanted my sister to tell me that things would get easier but she was very reticent to agree and now I know why!! Thanks so much for linking up with The Truth about… it’s made my day reading everyone’s posts and given me a little bit of validation for coming up with this idea because I know it’s the right choice for me as I’d rather read an honest post like this than look at someone else’s perfect living room tour any day 😉 X #thetruthabout
    Sam recently posted…The Truth about…My Profile

    1. Glad you enjoyed! Have just added the badge and link back from the post – sorry completely forgot to do it earlier – bedtime story with one hand, blogging in the other…you know how it goes!

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed your discomfort and frustration – only because you brought such humour to a situation that is so familiar. I particularly liked (I.e. Recognised the helplessness of) your daughter’s ‘Help me, don’t help me’ followed by meltdown. You truly write the truth.
    Touchline Dad recently posted…Not Having it AllMy Profile

  6. Brilliant – the truth about homework is on my list of possible posts for this linky too; and I’ve only got two doing it at the moment, but the jump from one to two this year has just about killed me! I do them back to back (to avoid the above issues…) but that means that homework now takes me about two hours to get through!! Every day!! Great post, I really can empathise 🙂 #thetruthabout
    Sara (@mumturnedmom) recently posted…Alphabet Photography Project: Y is for… YellowMy Profile

  7. Ha ha ha, you had me laughing a lot, there! I have no idea what it’s going to be like when my four get homework but I have to say I love the idea of them all sitting around the table chatting in French to each other. I will keep thinking of that idealistic image, please don’t say a thing, don’t shatter my dreams!
    Mel recently posted…Halloween Comes Alive with Storytime SoundsMy Profile

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