If you’re a parent trying to do some work, run a household, and also keep the children stimulated during this lockdown – you’re probably a little stressed.
There are so many articles doing the rounds featuring pretty schedules to use for your families, educational activities to inspire them and the best crafts to do (using nothing but a few dried beans and some glue). It’s enough to have your head spinning. While many of these resources are being shared to try and help us, they have the opposite effect of making us feel guilty and inadequate – feelings we really don’t need to be shouldering right now.
This is a completely unprecedented time in our world and therefore our responses need to deviate from the norm. So, now that you’ve experienced a bit of what lockdown is like, think about what’s working for you and what’s not working. Here are some top tips from parents who are keeping it real, which may be helpful:
- Let go of the rulebook
Does this mean letting them all run riot in the house while only eating ice-cream? Um, maybe? If you haven’t already, now is the time to loosen the reigns a little. They can stay up 30 minutes later watching a movie (no school tomorrow mom!). They can eat cereal for lunch if they want to, as long as you throw some fruit down their gullets occasionally too.
You could also make up some fun family rules, like the Gardener family from Cape Town did, including things like “dad must wear pants!” and “one dance off every day!”.
- Keep moving
While we are confined to our four walls, this doesn’t mean that we can’t move. If you haven’t been doing much exercise, try factor in one “movement” activity a day like Claudine Bresgi is, a South African currently living in New Zealand: “I’m focusing on one move, one make and one fun activity each day. I’m unsettled by this and I know my kids are too. So, we’re not forcing anything.” Joburg mother Kara Timperley says they are doing a Cosmic Kids Yoga class each day, while Cape Town based Pippa Leenstra says they are doing PE with Joe Wicks.
- Rediscover the joy of nature (if possible)
We don’t all have the privilege of outdoor spaces at our homes but if you do, now is the time for the kids to get a bit muddy (but still keep washing their hands!). Whether they are weeding, planting seeds, doing a Scavenger hunt or simply tidying up dead plants, being in nature does wonders for the spirit. Lizzy Frasco says that her two boys have recently noticed snails in their garden, which led to a “snail” lesson: learning parts of their anatomy and practising writing other words beginning with an “S”.
- Keep your health in mind too
“I’m not the crafty mom or the patient mom so this lockdown is hard. So I’m just winging it, trying to stay sane and doing whatever it takes so that I don’t become the ratty mom,” says mother of three, Nasima Joulay. This sounds like extremely solid advice to us. Put them on the iPad if it means you can read your book in peace, have a shower, or prepare dinner. Do what you need to in order to look after yourself and your needs too.
If you haven’t already, you can also get them involved in chores: let everyone take a turn to make dinner, teach them how to stack the dishwasher, bake cookies or bread and take this time to really be together as a family. It’s not going to be easy but think how lucky you are to share your home with people you love (something many people do not have).
Above all, practise gratitude, patience and empathy – and we’ll all get through the rest of this lockdown safely to the other side.