'Having beer tonight' - Mum's searingly honest account of home-schooling

Dr Emily Nightingale, 39, with her husband Kern, 43, and children Marcus, Elliot and Rose. They live in Little...

Dr Emily Nightingale, 39, with her husband Kern, 43, and children Marcus, Elliot and Rose. They live in Little Oakley, Harwich - Credit: Emily Nightingale

A mum-of-three has said she has "never felt so miserable" as she opens up about home-schooling during lockdown three. 

Dr Emily Nightingale, 39, a vet from Little Oakley, just outside Harwich, will be marking the end of two months of home education with a beer and takeaway tonight - and no doubt many exhausted parents will be doing the same. 

Dr Emily Nightingale says she misses her job as a vet

Dr Emily Nightingale says she misses her job as a vet - Credit: Emily Nightingale

Her sons Marcus, nine and Elliot, six, will return to Chappel C of E Primary School in Colchester next week and her daughter Rose, three, has just started back at nursery this week doing a couple of mornings to help her settle into it. 

Dr Nightingale said she wanted to share her account to say to others 'if you have struggled, you are not alone'.

She said: "This third lockdown has been necessary first and foremost and I fully acknowledge and agree with the scientific premise for keeping children at home.

"That said, it has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I would consider myself to have weathered a few storms in my life, but this one almost toppled me.

"We have done every single piece of work set in English and maths, with Marcus who has severe dyslexia and requires constant support as his learning is not independent yet. He struggles with reading and writing, and his spelling is phonetic, yet he is verbally very articulate, and very knowledgeable especially about natural history and animals.

Dr Nightingale said Elliot, six, would rather play Lego and build dens than do schoolwork

Dr Nightingale said Elliot, six, would rather play Lego and build dens than do schoolwork - Credit: Emily Nightingale

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"Elliot, in Year 1, has been excused from most of the work, as he would rather play Lego and build dens.

"Their teachers have done a sterling job of keeping us informed, updated, supported, sending relevant work, videos and running two assemblies a week and a little fun Zoom meeting once a week too. They have kept it fun, light hearted and gentle - very much the soothing counterpart to my stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted approach. 

Dr Nightingale said her children's teachers have done a "sterling job" of keeping them informed, updated, supported, and...

Dr Nightingale said her children's teachers have done a "sterling job" of keeping them informed, updated, supported, and sending relevant work and videos - Credit: Emily Nightingale

"Rose was offered to continue at nursery during this lockdown, which we have happily paid for but chosen to keep her at home, given that her older brothers were home and we are living with parents both of whom are in their late sixties. Naturally we chose this route to minimise the risk to them.  

"For me, I have never felt so miserable. Genuinely. I have never been so bored, isolated, trapped or unhappy. I have never questioned my ability as a mother as much as I have done this last year.

"I have never felt more on edge or inadequate, or useless as I have been furloughed from a job I adore and find so fulfilling.

The return to school marks the return to work for Dr Nightingale

The return to school marks the return to work for Dr Nightingale - Credit: Emily Nightingale

"Instead, being at home (we moved in with my parents in November 2020) with my children keeping them safe has led me down a path of complete guilt for not loving it more, for being impatient, for being exhausted. I am so very very tired of it all.  

"So whilst the return to school isn't a complete return to normality, it is a huge step in the right direction, and will bring my children the variation, the social interaction and the balance they need in their little lives.

"I am proud of the way they have coped. I really am. They have shown resilience and tenacity, on a far greater scale than I have.

"They have taught me a lot through this. I am grateful for this...and left feeling so inadequate that I haven't managed this all better.  

"I am so relieved. I feel I could sleep for a week, although the return to school for them marks the return to work for me, and I love it as I have said but I also need a break to recharge.  

"So this evening I am celebrating with a takeaway and a beer at 9pm when my husband finishes work. And like the words I have been inwardly repeating this last year...that will have to do."