WE forget, I think, that modern work patterns were never designed to fit alongside parenting. That is, the expectation was that one parent would work while the other cared for the children.

As women increasingly entered the workforce; as two incomes became necessary to support a family; and as fewer families had one stay at home parent, society didn't bother to adjust to make working full time and full time parenting an easily doable gig.

Speaking to any working parent and they're generally tired, rushed and in need of a break.

Speak to any working parent during this pandemic and they're in need of lengthy bed rest.

So while the decision to close schools throughout January is the correct one, given rising transmission rates and the new, more virulent strain of the virus, the despair from parents as they assess the impact of a month - or more - with no childcare and no schooling is understandable.

Caring for children, home schooling them and working is no straightforward task. There's a distinction between the first and second of those, although they overlap. Being mindful of children's wellbeing and taking a holistic approach to learning is all part of education. Home schooling takes into account care for children.

But it is a very distinct prospect, to teach your children at home with little to no support.

One of the upsides to the taking a decision now to keep schools closed to the majority of children until February is that it gives families some stability and the chance to put a routine in place.

There was, though, a chance to try a blended learning approach after the summer holidays but this opportunity was missed in the push to have children return to school full time.

Lessons have been learned from the first lockdown in how to support vulnerable children and alternative learning packages for pupils who do not have access to the internet or even to computers.

Had the government focused more on blended learning, there would be a broader wealth of at home resources for parents to use with their children.

As it is, there have been very little resources and advice for parents who find themselves home schooling - and often several ages and stages at once.

Work-wise, practical support from businesses has been piecemeal and entirely depended on the employer too. Some parents have talked about their bosses giving them additional days annual leave to assist with home schooling or allowing them to change their hours or working patterns to accommodate childcare.

Others have spoken of a complete lack of flexibility in the workplace and the exhaustion and despair of making up their hours well into the night.

The situation most negatively affects women, with studies showing that women spent twice as much time as men on home schooling and care during the last full lockdown.

Researchers at University College London (UCL) found women across age groups bore the brunt of childcare and education. Those with primary aged children were more likely to have given up work than fathers of children of the same age.

That's not to say that single dads weren't exhausted and overstretched too, but the bulk of the burden fell to mothers and will this time too.

There's a repeated refrain that parents shouldn't worry too much about keeping up classroom-standard learning and focus more on wellbeing. That's well meaning and right, but it will be cold comfort to parents concerned about their teenager's exam prospects and next steps. It will be a sop to those whose pre-schoolers have lost their social skills and have been separated from friends.

Far more practical support for working parents is needed this time around. Financial support is needed to allow breaks from work for a start.

It's not possible or practical to give parents crash course training in teaching. But there must be more than telling them that education isn't as important in the short term as wellbeing.