SAHM No More explores the the ups-and-downs of navigating a new world of parenting, transitioning from married stay-at-home motherhood to a full-time working, divorced motherhood. And there are a lot of adjustments being made—a lot of adjustments and not a lot of sleep.
Is this scene at all familiar to you? It’s late on a Sunday afternoon, after a full and fun weekend or running around and getting together with friends and family, and you ask your child one last time if they finished all their homework. At which point they promptly burst into tears and scramble to get their backpacks, which, incidentally, weigh almost as much as they do. What follows is several hours of reading, writing, and arithmetic—a few more tears—and a pledge to never, ever let anything get in the way of doing homework again.
But guess what happens? Life gets in the way. Again and again. And so the tears come. Again and again. And as much as my son is sick and tired of all the homework, I think I hate it even more. And I hate it more now that I’m working than I did when I was consistently at home with my kids. The thing is that even when the homework doesn’t require me actively helping my children—they’re generally capable of completing it without my assistance—it does mean that while they’re doing it, they can’t be doing anything else. Namely, just relaxing with me and enjoying family time together. And, while the education my children receive is of paramount importance to me, so is sitting around the dinner table all together and piano practice and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
Maybe if my children were struggling in school or if I had some doubts as to what their academic potentials were, I would be a little more focused on getting them to do their homework, but it just feels like so much busy work to me. Both of my kids read for fun and read well over their grade level. They excel academically and I don’t think that their performances would suffer if their homework load was decreased.
The way things stand now, it just feels more like it’s wasted time. Time that they could spend just, you know, being kids. And, of course, selfishly, I don’t feel like spending my time with them watching them do homework. I’d rather spend my time with them having fun.
This past year, the issue of homework has been making international headlines with the president of France proposing a nationwide ban on homework and the Finnish school system—which does not prioritize homework—was ranked first in the world in academic achievement. When my kids learned of the news they immediately requested that we move abroad, pointing out that I can work remotely, so why not give France a chance?
The reasoning behind the proposed French homework ban is that there is a huge disparity in French schools between the achievements of kids who come from different backgrounds, regardless of how much homework they have. Basically, kids whose parents can help them will do well no matter what, and kids whose parents can’t will continue to struggle. Homework doesn’t harm, but it doesn’t seem to be helping.
What does this mean for me and all of the nights when I have to force my kids to sit down and do their work instead of doing things that I honestly think would be more stimulating? I don’t know. I can’t actively encourage them to thwart a system that they have to be a part of, but it’s hard to promote the worthwhileness of a flawed bureaucracy. So, for now, we deal with the tears and the late nights of completing homework packets, and try and achieve balance in whatever free time they do have.