I prioritise socialising over homework. This is why

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

If you're one of my children's teachers, you should stop reading now. I have a confession to make and you probably won't like it.

I don't think my kids' homework is that important, and I often prioritise socialising over getting their maths done on a week night.

Every week night, my kids come home with homework. My children are 14, eight and six, so the range of homework they have is pretty broad but there is never a night that they aren't required to do somewhere between 15 minutes or more than two hours of homework.

As a single working parent, I use after school care for my younger two children while my teenager makes her own way home after school. Luckily, she gets on with her homework when she gets home, so at least she's generally done by the time I've wrapped up my work day and gone to pick up her brother and sister.

But by the time I get home with my younger two, there are about two hours to go before their bedtime. That means I need to fit in baths, dinner, homework, packing bags for tomorrow, and some relaxation and wind-down time before they are expected to be in bed and going to sleep so we can do it all again tomorrow.

It's a tight schedule, and it's pretty unforgiving.

That's why I try to blow it on a regular basis. I don't want to hold onto schedules and expectations so tightly that we forget to live. I think spending time with friends and loved ones is so important – not just for me so I have some adult company, but also for my kids, who get so much out of spending time with other adults and children.

We're lucky enough to have friends with children of a similar age, and when we all get together they all run amok and play outside. Screen time, which is generally begged for without a break every day in my house, is forgotten as the children lose themselves in whatever game they're playing that week.

And I enjoy a glass of wine and a chat with friends that restores my mid-week soul.

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On those nights, homework often doesn't get done. I always write to my children's teachers to explain that we had a lot on and that it didn't get done; I don't want my kids to get into trouble for the choices I make on their behalf. But I don't make up stories or excuses, I just say that we were busy.

With flimsy evidence about the importance of homework, including some studies that show it can have a detrimental effect and Australian children among the world's most stressed when it comes to homework, it just doesn't strike me as something I should be bending over backwards to encourage my children to do.

Because so many of us spend our whole lives being busy but forget to stop and enjoy ourselves. I don't want that to be us. I want us to eat and talk and play and laugh with our friends.

As adults we bang on ad nauseam about finding work­-life balance, but how will our children learn that if we don't lead by example? So, sometimes I say no to homework and yes to life, because that's what I want for my children.