There are so many articles, lists, schedules and activities being sent around at the moment that my head is spinning. Yours too? And then there are all the memes saying “you don’t have to be your child’s teacher over this time” – yes, thank you for that, although I had no intention to be. In a list of possible alternative and suitable occupations I know full well that teaching would not come top of my list. Most teachers are patient saints and I am not one of those.
We have enough to worry about without feeling like a failure as a parent, because we’re not reacting like we should during this time and making things magical and educational for our kids. So let’s all just take a big sigh out and let that guilt go. Let’s let go of any pretence of having control over this situation. And then have a read of some of the answers my Instagram friends gave to this answer, as they make make you feel better, and give you the odd helpful idea:
What’s the one thing that’s working for you as a parent over lockdown?
- “Nothing” (this is my favourite answer – and was a popular one)
- “Hiding away?” (yes, me too Neulah)
- “Keeping iPads charged” said Brendah (I hear you! If your kids are in the pre-reading or reading stage, Reading Eggs is a great app which Caley recommended and which my kids have loved this week – you get a month free and can then cancel if you want to).
- “Dance parties!” I love this one from Robyn – we’ve been doing quite a lot of musical education with our kids and generally dancing like crazy as a family. The other night the husband and I put on all those old songs from Std 5 when we first went to school dances or discos, and we drank too much wine and slow danced around the kitchen. Remember Sacrifice by Elton John? Air Supply? Roxette? Bon Jovi? Purple Rain by Prince? Do it.
- “Schedules” – a few people mentioned these and if those work for your family, then great. Some parents said they even asked their (older) kids to come up with their own schedule, which would be an interesting parenting experiment. Others said that dividing up the day into hour slots was working for them (i.e one hour movement related, one hour educational etc).
- “Lunchboxes” said Paula and Candice. I love this idea! So you still make up their snack time lunchbox they would typically take to school and then come 10am, you hand it over and they can take it into the garden, on to the verandah, into a fort in the lounge or up a tree.
- “Baking” said Simone and I’ve been using this activity too. Today we made custard biscuits which are basically just butter (scarce!) and icing sugar (THESE ARE NOT HEALTH BISCUITS PEOPLE).
- Movement: Everyone is talking about Daily PE with Joe Wicks which I have yet to try, and quite a few people mentioned Cosmic Kids Yoga. Trampolines are another good one but you actually have to have a trampoline obvs. We also set up an obstacle course and I’ve been doing daily workouts with Ash from Fitmom. The kids join in occasionally, using cans of beans as weights.
- Chores: Yes, they should have been doing these already but now is the time they can get even more involved. Laura said hers like packing the dishwasher and helping her make dinner. Mine love rinsing dishes in the sink and cleaning countertops, which is just fine with me. Gardening is another good one – Sophie in the UK says her 4-year-old is “picking dead flowers as treats for unicorns” (how sweet?)
- Making a countdown caterpillar. Did you used to make these at school to signify end of term? The idea is that there’s one circle of the caterpillar for each day of lockdown and you then get to make the caterpillar shorter as the days count down. The risk here is that lockdown may continue beyond 3 weeks, but at least it’s another activity to try.
Guys this is not a very long list. Sorry. And I realise that many of these ideas are only suitable for older kids. If you have a toddler over this time, you have my sympathies. I’m not going to gloss it over – this is going to be tough. Friends with toddlers are dividing the day into 90 minute segments where one watches the kids and the other gets some time to work/exercise/do chores. It seems the only way to manage it. Toddlers are always trying to kill themselves or inflict damage on your home or possessions – you have to constantly be on your toes. They are sneaky buggers. But they do grow out of it (just not right now?). Sorry toddler parents.
I don’t have any other sage advice. Just that the birds seem to be cheeping very loudly all of a sudden. And the sky is much more interesting. This morning our 7-year-old wandered into the room in the dark hours of 5am and I hugged him close and smelled his hair and knew that we didn’t have to rush off anywhere. There is grace in that, no matter the reasons behind it.
Hold on to the grace, when those moments come.