Let’s look at the silver lining of a Covid lockdown, one beyond the obvious benefits. Parenting through connection with activities, tips and ideas to balance it all. A small change in perspective might help.
Surviving Covid lockdown (with kids)
The Coronavirus pandemic, with everything that comes with it, is scary. Having to stay at home, entertain and home school kids, plus do all the regular stuff that running a household entails can bring on anxiety.
It’s hard not to stress. But stressing over things we cannot control is futile. In lockdown mode, for the most part, we are in control.
This can be a scary time for children, because their regular routine is disrupted. They don’t get to see their friends in real life and they don’t fully understand what is happening and why. We sometimes don’t, but let’s be the leaders they need us to be. Our worry and stress will only have them worried and stress more.
I read a wonderful book recently on parenting from a place of connection. It highlighted something that rings so true in many high-stress situations – the power of connection. A lockdown with kids at home coupled with job uncertainty can definitely be one such volatile situation. I thoroughly recommend the book.
Covid. Lockdowns. It is what it is. Let’s focus on what we can control. Social distancing outside the home. Kindness. Yes, even the way we see the lockdown. Start small. Nurture connection. Change your perspective. Embrace it if you can.
I’m on day 4 of our self-imposed lockdown and I am starting to really enjoy the time we are spending together. We have a routine and that’s a good thing for us adults and a safe haven for kids.
Otherwise, there is this phrase most new parents probably remember from their days with a newborn, this too shall pass. It seemed so real at the time, but three years on I can tell you those moments went far too quickly.
Change of perspective
There is no doubt the economic fallout will add to our levels of stress and anxiety – I’ve linked to mental health helplines at the end, give them a call if you find it all too overwhelming. Ask your friends and family how they are doing. Connect.
Change your perspective. The choice of words we use matters. It sets the scene. A positive association creates a positive attitude and results in a positive experience. I once heard Turia Pitt speak to a room full of parents about the power of the mind. She’s had to battle it out, mentally and physically, to be where she is today but it was that positive can-do attitude that got her to be where she is today, after the fire.
She also said something remarkably simple yet so effective about the choice of words and the instant effect it can have on our minds. Instead of constantly reminding yourself “I should do this, I must do that…” begin saying “I get to do this! I get to do that!” The experiences will be instantly transformed too.
No doubt, your life will be chaotic at times, distracting and might feel unproductive. So, try to shift your mindset a little. The Covid lockdowns are for you. You get to be there for your loved ones and you get to do it for the greater good.
Use the Covid lockdown period to really connect with your loved ones, but especially with your kids.
Many Australians are frustrated that whilst they are doing their bit, voluntary social distancing is not working, calling for more widespread, policed and enforced lockdowns.
Look at this time as the perfect opportunity to connect with your kids more than ever, to foster growth, encourage amazing learning and celebrate the opportunity to see all of this first hand. Our otherwise busy, fast-paced lives mean we get to miss so much of this.
Turn the moments you do step away from work as an opportunity to spend quality time together. And the moments when you do work into super productive ones, around schedules that work for your family.
I am a single Mum working from home most days. There are times when I pause and put my phone away (except for the occasional I-need-to-take-a-photo-of-this moment which I have been sharing more so of late for inspiration on Insta). And I just throw myself into my daughter’s world of play and imagination. She amazes me with some of the things she comes up with!
There are also times I’ve had to ask my pre-schooler to play on her own in order to get work done – with a lockdown there will be many more. It’s important to get things done, but when Mummy Mia time comes I engage fully and completely. It helps me as much as it nourishes her.
Homeschooling during a lockdown
There is a lot of preparation going into schools and universities around online learning during the Covid-19 outbreak and potential lockdowns. Check out this article for some great tips on everything from keeping the routine going as close to normal as possible, to places where you can find resources online.
Sure, trying to do homeschooling whilst also working from home, can add a layer of complexity. But it might be that you focus on schooling in the mornings, and as the kids take the afternoon “off” for playing, you do your work then. It might mean setting 20-minute tasks for them to work on independently while you attend to work emails or calls.
We are all in the same boat so hopefully, your bosses and colleagues will understand the challenges. I often find myself working into the night (or the wee hours of the morning), after my little one is in bed, on things like writing, editing images, responding to non-urgent queries. It can be done.
Everyday tasks can teach great lessons too
Stuck at home during a Covid lockdown with kids and wondering how you will ever get on top of running the house with everyone home?
Luckily, there are other forms of learning you can engage your children in. They don’t feature on the regular curriculum but can be viewed as essential skills for life outside of school and children get REALLY excited about doing those grown-up tasks.
It’s also great to have a set of hands, little or otherwise, help around the household. It’s not about hurrying them up to grow up more quickly, but engaging them in the social environment that’s a household.
Here are some activities for kids to get you started. If you have more please share them in the comments. Invite them to learn how to do those simple everyday things they won’t learn from regular schooling:
- cook, including washing produce, preparation, etc
- set and clear the table
- do the washing up
- check the oil in the car
- do the laundry, including folding and putting away
- sew on a button or mend a hole
- clean the house, be it vacuuming, dusting or mopping
- rake leaves or weed the path (using vinegar in a spray bottle to avoid chemicals)
- squeegee the shower after they’ve used it
- carry out small repairs (if they are old enough and only under adult supervision)
Redirect social interaction needs to within your household
Unfortunately, during a Covid lockdown kids will have needs that might not be able to be satisfied. Namely those for social interaction, adventure and fun. Respect the fact that they might be more sensitive or not understand why these restraints exist.
Encourage them to:
- ask questions and seek to give age-appropriate answers filled with truth, honesty and importance of following the rules at this very time
- check on the neighbours, friends and loved ones with a call or face time call
Try to engage in some FUN activities for kids you can do together that should help during social distancing and lockdowns. Here are some ideas that will help parenting through connection:
- Build a pillow and blanket fort and engage in some fun scenarios – be it dinosaurs, knights and princesses, hide and seek with toys.
- Tinker away on some projects in the shed – tightening screws is great fun and helps develop fine motor skills
- Use the dining room table to make a cubby house for all the plush toys.
- Make things out of play doh – you might be able to get it online or from some food retailers while doing your essential shop.
- Dust off the board games and play them even if your kids are too young to play them “properly”. Scrabble is a great example for toddlers, working on letter recognition or sorting them into the same letter piles.
- Turn one of the walls into an art wall – these can always be repainted, you can also cover the wall in sheets of printer paper and that way you can keep the paintings and art, framing them and perhaps putting in the same hallway down the track.
- Make a shadowbox puppet theatre
- Build stuff with Lego
- Set up a “stage” where you take turns to sing to a wooden spoon “microphone”.
- Have a family disco in the kitchen/living room/lounge room. Dance silly, no one is watching and your children will love watching you laugh, giggle and be silly with them! It’s a great way to lift the mood and forget about the stresses for a while.
- Play with dolls or cars and make up stories – take them “on holidays”, go on adventures, take them swimming in the bath!
- Take some time outside – play on the balcony or in the yard. If you don’t have either maybe eat breakfast in front of an open window or go for a short stroll, rules permitting, playing “I spy”. Sunshine and vitamin D make us feel good.
Other and online resources
Google colouring in sheets, quizzes and games that you can print.
Check out instagram parenting accounts for more hands-on crafts and ideas. This one is fantastic as is this one (thanks for the recommendations from our Mumma friends). Leave more in comments if you have some.
Let some things go
You might have to let some things go. And I mean it beyond the freedom to go wherever and whenever during the Covid lockdown.
Yes, the house will probably get messy. For every toy you put away there will be two more that appear. Encourage putting things away, as it is a great lesson to teach, but don’t stress too much over it not always being perfect or fully done at the end of the day.
If you are working from home, you might have to take turns, move your working hours around or simply teach your kids to play on their own a little.
Embrace the beautiful mess and create your own happiness and connection within it, your children and you will benefit greatly from it.
Look after yourself mentally too
And if you do struggle, I’m not saying you can’t or you won’t surround yourself with a good support crew. Create social interactions with friends and family via messenger or whatsapp. Share the positives, share encouragement, share the small wins of the day. Otherwise, know that you can still get help via mental health phone lines in your country – click for links to helpline numbers for Australia, UK and USA.