In these unprecedented, daunting and unnerving times, many of us are finding ourselves locked at home with our loved ones. This can be both a positive experience and also very testing on patience and relationships. Being cooped up in sometimes restricted spaces, spending 24 hours a day together can take its toll.
We as adults are naturally concerned about the ongoing situation and our children are too whether they express this or not. They are bombarded with Covid-19 information, whether this be at the start of the outbreak at school or throughout with news and radio coverage. Much of it negative. It can be a very scary subject for them. There are many resources out there to help children process this situation and we have found a few that have really assisted us. To name but a few;
- Simple guide to Covid-19 https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/media/259568/covibook.pdf
- Newsround coverage https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51861089
- The importance of washing your hands video using pepper https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvG6uBq-dV0
It’s not all about talking about the pandemic, whilst we have an open house to talk about anything they want, it’s totally about making them feel safe, loved and happy. This more than anything else will help them, and us, get through this difficult time. Think about their lives already, they have had enough loss, pain and trauma and it is our job as parents or carers to help reduce the impact this situation has on their mental health.
If anyone out there is attempting homeschooling, I take my hat off to you. Our school has been helpful in sending out weekly plans and resources to support these. The task of actually getting the kids to sit down and complete them however is a whole other challenge! We have taken the route of “less is more.” We are not recreating a tight school schedule, we are not setting homework or driving long learning sessions. In fact many educational professionals have advised against doing this. I read one interesting piece that listed just how much learning kids do in a school day when you take into account, breaks, subject changes, equipment gathering, tidying, fun activities and so forth. In reality it is only 1.5- 2 hours of actual learning subject. So pummelling through a full agenda may not get the experience you are hoping for. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that for some children they need this regimented schedule and the familiarity that comes with structure. Some may need this. Ours don’t respond well to this but instead we try and create some sort of routine to the day.
We start with slightly lazier mornings, ( mainly so I can think what on earth we are going to cover that day). The kids get to choose an hour of an activity whether this be lego building, colouring or even TV. We then try and do an hour or 1.5 hours of learning, following the subjects from school we know will interest them, not forcing the ones we know don’t resonate with them. We break for lunch, go outside for some exercise and then attempt another 30 minutes work in the afternoon.
Now on to the main point of my post Isolation = Connection.
A key development we have seen occur during this time is the closeness of our love and relationships that has been building. More time together can and does mean some fractious times but on the whole it means the opposite. We are finding that we are doing more together as a family, there are more un-prompted hugs and tickles and there is nothing better than a roll around on the grass giggling like fools. We have had tent building lessons, bbq’s, den building, lego contests, board games and hammock rocking.
At times as a parent it can be very hard as the boys can be constantly by your side. I have learnt to love this. Appreciate the time together and give them what they need which is advanced connection and love.
Our eldest in particular has really needed more connection and actively seeks it out which is lovely to see. His kind nature has flourished and he takes you by surprise wanting to help or volunteer something. He has struggled with closeness over the last 3 years, in particular with me, but this time combined with our family approach has really driven a closeness that we have both longed for. Also, we have taken part in Theraplay sessions with the boys and I will post more on this in the future.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not fully a bed of roses. We have had meltdowns, we have had frustration flaring but on the whole we are sharing the love back and developing a deeper family connection.
Embrace this time with your loved ones. Listen to and observe what your children need and remember if schooling isn’t working it doesn’t matter. What they will remember and what will help them most in this horrible time is the love and support you provide.