LIKE many parents, returning to work this week has also meant readjusting to looking after and supporting my children with their learning, whilst also keeping on top of my council work.

Closing schools was clearly the right thing to do with frightening levels of Covid-19 transmission being driven by the new virus variant. The Scottish Government has been slow to give credence to long-held concerns of school staff and their trade unions about covid safety in schools and in the wider community, and it’s troubling that the council is still planning to take a “less rigid” approach.

Nevertheless, home-schooling will undeniably place a strain on many parents at a time when most people are feeling pretty fed-up. Some children will adapt well, but others will struggle. And competing demands of work and family life will add to domestic stress.

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I’m fortunate that my partner and I can both work flexibly and my mum can help out too. Others, especially single parents, and those in families where one parent is an essential worker, have it much harder, and there’s a big danger of entrenching gender and other inequalities.

Employers must step up. And that’s not just about being “flexible”. Sure, flexibility is helpful, but expectations need to change too. In the first lockdown, some people looked after children all day, then had to put in six hours’ work at night, because their bosses expected the same level of output. That’s never sustainable, for anyone.

It is welcome that the Scottish Government has this time put its work-from-home direction into law, though judging by the amount of commuter traffic still on the roads, it may need to be more strongly enforced. STUC and individual trades unions have been very proactive this week offering advice and assistance to workers who are worried about their working conditions. Government must be prepared to step in with the minority of employers who don’t co-operate, as well as encouraging everyone to be more accommodating.

From next week, Glasgow schools will be setting pupils learning online. As I write this, I don’t know exactly what that will involve for my two. But I do know that I’m not a teacher and that I can’t replace the professional learning experience my children get from their fantastic teachers and learning support staff. Perhaps as significantly for my kids, I know that I can’t replicate the routine and the structure of their school day, which really helps them. But frankly, neither do I want to. I want their home to feel like home, not school.

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I know that I can nourish and support them in many different ways, guiding their learning as best I can, and most importantly looking out for their wellbeing.

In between, I’ll be doing my level best to represent my constituents, support the business of the council and work towards setting the city’s annual budget next month.

And all the time, I’ll need to be kind to myself. If lockdown has taught us anything it is that a little kindness can go a long way. We will do well to remember that in the months ahead.