Parenting through a pandemic
Never in my life did I expect to write a headline like that, and yet here we are...In Scotland we are still very much in the lockdown phase, which to me personally, is the right thing to do. That doesn't mean it's easy to live with.
I have 4 kids at home, between the ages of 11 and 16. To be fair, they've all coped remarkably well with the weird situation we're all living in. I can't imagine how it would have felt at that age to be at home all the time, missing friends and family, not to mention all the horrendous news reports.
For a good few weeks we had unusually good weather which made life easier. Fortunate enough to have a back garden, the sun's warm rays were helpful at keeping everyone's mood up. The boys tried camping in the back garden as a novelty, however, gave up at 2am as they were frozen.
I don't know if everyone has found the home schooling part of all this stressful, but I suspect most have. Seems to me there are mixed messages; school setting work on numerous different platforms, but also reminding us as parents not to worry about it and make sure kids are happy. Also not been easy trying to arrange access to different computers and tablets for them all to use, with the obvious forgotten passwords etc. Thank God the printer seems to be behaving for once. My own approach is to try to set some kind of routine, aim for each child to spend 1.5-2 hours a day on school work, or even just learning about something that interests them. BBC Bitesize has been very helpful, with daily lessons for each age group. PE with Joe has also been great, started with all of us taking part, but now just down to youngest and I....with cat pouncing on us unexpectedly for added calorie burn.
Some other challenges I have faced include worrying myself sick that eldest son will break his neck with gymnastics practise in garden and trying to keep science mad youngest son, with his ever curious mind happy (so far he's tried a homemade candy floss machine, pinhole camera, taught himself how to pick a lock...slightly worrying, and is now collecting plastic bottles to make a recycled greenhouse...so far we have around 25, he will need 700!) The greenhouse project has also led to an unexpected friendship; having put a note through all our neighbours doors asking for bottle donations, my son received a chilli plant with note explaining how to look after it and offer to give him gardening tips once his greenhouse is ready. We have never really gotten to know our neighbours, so maybe this will be a positive about Covid-19, that it will bring people closer together.
The girls have sadly not used this time to bond, as I'd hoped they might, and regularly take their daily walks alone, as opposed to with each other.
I've noticed a pattern of parenting tweets about socks and the maddening habit of kids (and husbands) abandoning them wherever they like, which is never the laundry basket. This household is no exception and when combined with endless family cooking and dishes, the irritation level is much higher.
Bedtimes are also tricky, since the usual line of "it's bedtime, you've got school in the morning" holds no weight. Many teens are turning night into day, which seems to sound very appealing to my three, but so far they've not been too far off the 11pm limit.
May is also birthday month in our family, my dad celebrated his 70th, girls turned 16 and 15, eldest son turning 15 and husband's birthday soon too. We've tried to make the most of these days, but of course there's a sadness when you allow yourself to think about how these days should have been celebrated. Similarly, although very thankful for video calls, I read an article recently about the psychological effects these calls can have. At the back of your mind, there is often the awareness of how sad the situation is, when loved ones should be there in person, not communicating via a screen. Read the article here:
Juggling work and childcare is without a doubt challenging. Although furloughed, as I'm co-owner of our company, still the basics need to be dealt with. We work with restaurants, and so naturally were concerned what would happen to our business. However, have now pivoted to help restaurants offer takeaway in our local area. Relieved and grateful that we've managed to adapt to these unprecedented challenges, but at times hard to concentrate and focus on adapting our work practices with everything that's going on.
Like everyone else I have good days and bad days during lockdown. My best advice is to take one day at a time, and not worry too much about how life will look after restrictions are lifted, as without a doubt our lives will be changed. Would love to hear from other parents around the world to share experiences and tips to help both ourselves, and our children cope better with the situation.