If you’re like me your eyes are glued to the media, learning how the latest updates of this crazy pandemic will impact on our lives. It started a while ago as something ‘other people’ have to worry about, but quickly nudged its way into our every day living… so much so that our busy lives have come to a screaming halt and we are all stuck at home wondering when all this craziness will end.
If you have children, the ripple effect extends a little further. The formality of school helps ground our kids and gives them a sense of security and purpose each day. Extracurricular activities such as sports and social groups offer a focus or goal for our kids, as well as teaching them social skills and the opportunity to go outside and boost those endorphins. So now these activities have ceased, the pressure gets pushed back on us as parents to tick all those boxes for our kids… all the while trying to keep our own heads above water in our work (if we are lucky enough to still have a job), our own mental health, family support and obligations… AND having our kids with us 24/7.
As hard as it may be, it’s important to keep some structure in the day for everyone in our homes. Even though it’s school holidays, it’s not like any other holiday in which we can go to the park or movies or catch up with friends. Here are 5 strategies that will keep a sense of normality for your children during these uncertain times.
- Get up at a reasonable time. As tempting as it is to stay up late and sleep in during the days, this habit will result in sluggishness and will impact on the quality of our day. If exercise is a part of your normal routine, don’t give that up now. Think creatively how you can replicate your ‘normal’ life – substitute gym for runs or walks, or sports for online workouts. We are lucky to live in an era where we have free resources at our fingertips! Take advantage of it.
- Eat meals together, at set times. It’s tempting to graze through the day, but this creates problems around structure in your home. If breakfast is at 10am, it’s hard to back that up with lunch at 12pm. Everyone has different body clocks, so negotiate with your family about what times would suit you. Another fantastic idea is to pack a lunchbox each morning (you too!) so that you are monitoring portions and keeping track of time. If you have school aged children, you could even keep timing in line with school breaks – little lunch and big lunch!
- Brainstorm a variety of activities with your children. The struggle with technology is real in these times. Ask your children what ‘x’ amount of activities they are will complete today – with devices being ONE of those activities. Breaking the day into chunks of time will ensure hours are not lost doing one thing (i.e. iPad).
- Relax your expectations. I can already feel myself feeling guilt for the amount of unstructured/non-purposeful time my children will have over the next weeks. The thing is, we’ve never been in this situation before and this is not life as usual. It’s ok if our high standards are relaxed because we just need to survive.
- Keep time for yourself. If you are working from home the pressure on you to produce results is already mounting up. It’s not possible to give your all to work, then when you clock off, give your all to your kids. We are not robots who can perform for hours on end without rest and recreation. It’s ok to explain to your kids that you need work, rest and play time too. If you can follow a timetable and negotiate this with your kids you will have more success at maintaining balance and calm in your home.
As the Queensland Teachers Union keep quoting – ‘This is not business as usual’. Please be kind to yourself and manage the best way you can. There are no right or wrong ways to survive a global pandemic.