Making more time


Modern family life means that quality time together can often end-up squeezed. Samantha Sawyer of Staines Preparatory School argues the ‘new normal’ is the right time to look again and try to make more time for family.

As a Headmistress and a full-time working parent, it is very difficult to always feel I am practising what I preach. I am often spinning several plates, juggling different size balls and standing on one leg... sound familiar? And that was before the coronavirus changed all our lives completely.

Great schools pride themselves as having ‘family values’. This is very important as your child spends more hours at school than at home during the week. Family values are therefore what parents say is the number one reason for joining a school because they promote a nurturing, family learning environment, and rightly so. As a fee paying parent myself, this comes with financial pressures and, for the majority of parents involved, this means being in full-time employment, working hard and, on occasions, very long hours. Weekends, therefore, often seem to be consumed by neglected household chores and, prior to the pandemic, the taxi of Mum and Dad.

When sitting down to eat supper, we are often distracted by technology. Even if the phones are away from the dinner table our minds are often focussed on unfinished work matters or on what is happening in the news rather than focussing on the ‘here and now’. I am often the first to try to instigate dinner conversation with ‘So how was your day?’, and I always receive the same generic alternating responses: ‘Fine’ or ‘Okay’. In fairness, if I was asked this every day I probably would respond in the same way. I have now started a supper time ritual of ‘Tell me something that you think I do not know...’ Meal times seem to be much more entertaining and fascinating. In one week, I discovered that phobophobia is the fear of developing a phobia and that bees can sting other bees!

Samantha Sawyer is Headmistress of Staines Preparatory School.