Furlough: Day 3

April Fools Day, but there was nothing funny about it. Mostly because we completely forgot. No harm done, I’m sure.

Today was more leisurely than the previous two days. We started the day all getting stuck on a BBC Bitesize maths question. All of us. It wasn’t a difficult question (for me), but my method of figuring it out probably wouldn’t be included in the national curriculum, so I had to actually find a way of calculating the answer whilst showing my workings. GCSE maths was 30 years ago for me and, even as a computer programmer, I’ve yet to need long division and show my workings. It’s all been lost in the mists of time.

I eventually found an inefficient method of doing the division using multiplication and addition.

My next task was to create a timetable for my daughter. Knowing that she’s a self-starter, I felt that setting start times was unnecessary, so we settled for a simple checklist of subjects to work on each day. I suspect my son will end up using this method too as we’re not doing a great job of sticking to the schedule.

Personally, I managed to go out for a 5k run and spent 30 minutes practising on the guitar. I also spent about an hour trying to sort out my failing wifi connection on my PC.

On reflection, I thought I would have more time to myself, but the reality is that this is less like school holidays because I need to engage more with the kids’ homework. This has been quite tiring at times and not so rewarding. Looking forward to the weekend!

Furlough: Day 2

The kids and I were full of good intentions. My daughter had started on her Year 7 geography of her own accord, which was great. My son and I sat down to create a schedule – I know there are arguments against this, but there needed to be some structure to his day.

I thought he could create it in Google Calendar, that way he could eventually join my wife and I in our shared calendar. He took to this idea quite well and set up a basic schedule running from 9am to 3pm. We agreed it’s not a strict schedule and there are some fun things in there like A WHOLE HOUR for lunch, quiet time and a little bit of time for planning the following day together. And we progressed with the day…

He’d already completed BBC Bitesize maths and was up for some artwork. I figured drawing from observation would be easy, so I grabbed the nearest toy, a plastic tank, from a nearby box of toy soldiers. I used to love drawing tanks, but in reality, I used to love making up my own tanks rather than drawing what I saw. The boy is a chip off my own block and I could sense resistance to that idea.

I pushed a little further and he told me that the tank was too difficult. Ok then, a jeep with a rocket on the back (is that even a thing?). He accepted this and proceeded to disappoint himself by drawing a jeep which didn’t look like the jeep in front of him. “This is too hard”, he said. “You’re telling me”, I thought.

I gave him some guidance on how he could draw a more realistic picture of the jeep, but the damage was done. He was in a STROP.

After some unsuccessful encouragement, I called in Mrs Furlough to assist. Five minutes later and art was abandoned and he was now the leader in our family band and we were to perform a concert later in the day. We needed a band name (Apple Maoams), a logo and some songs. Enthusiasm restored, he was back in the game (minus the jeep).

Our band was a roaring success. We had a keyboard, guitar, some made-up percussion and a lead vocalist. I stuck with the guitar, which I can’t really play, but managed to find the notes for Baby Shark, some of Happy Birthday and some of that Bad Lip Reading song where Yoda sings about seagulls. I think it saved the day.

Furlough: Day 1

The Plan: In order to stop this time becoming day after day of aimless drifting we need some sort of structure. The first trick seems to be to strike a balance between fun and Miss Trunchbull (“a gigantic holy terror, a fierce tyrannical monster who frightened the life out of pupils and teachers alike” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Trunchbull)

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the kids to get dressed during the week. Given the chance, they’d wear their pyjamas all day every day. After some grumbling, they conceded to get dressed and agreed to follow something along the lines of a school morning routine, but with less rigid time constraints.

That’s about as far as I got. The rest of our first day was mostly spent firefighting! The laptop network adaptor keeps disappearing, my daughter’s Safari browser won’t work well with some Google Docs and my son’s Microsoft account was locked out (when or why did I even create that account?).

Then it was 3pm and it’s only fair to call time on home school for the day. Tomorrow we’ll sit down and sketch out a high-level plan for the weekdays.

As for my own plans, I repurposed an old Facebook page of mine into this one and resurrected my own website (more on that at a later date).

I also went for a run and learned that “rush hour” is still a bit busy on the roads and the pavements were full of families, dogs and other runners. I’ll choose my route and time better on my next run.

Furlough Opportunities

Monopoly board

Whilst working from home last Friday, my employer contacted me to tell me I’d be on furlough during April. It was a bolt from the blue. I am still employed, still getting paid, but I’m not to do any work, in fact, I mustn’t do any work! So it’s paid holiday? Yep, seems so.

Three days later and I’m still wondering what the catch is – more on that later, but in the short-term, there’s no catch.

Whilst my wife and I were both working from home, we have young(ish) children who weren’t really getting much of our attention during the working day. We’d only been working from home for seven days, but we had noticed that our youngest (9), in particular, was struggling to occupy himself.

Realising that this was also an opportunity to do some of the housebound things I’ve been wanting to do for ages, I grabbed a pencil and paper and started scribbling ideas for myself, the kids, all of us together, oh, and DIY to keep Mrs Furlough happy 😉

The resulting mindmap might contain more activities than I can realistically achieve, or even start, in the given month. That said, this situation could go on for longer, so I’ll plan for that.

Here follows, over a series of posts, how I took advantage of the time given to me.