Parenting during a pandemic-how to keep sane!

It is safe to say that this is indeed a strange situation we find ourselves currently in! The past few days have undoubtedly been harder for my children than when our schools were first closed. Many children, while scared of this new word ‘coronavirus’ they kept hearing, were also quite excited that their school was closed! Yes, extra long Easter holidays seemed like a novelty to most children. Parents embraced home schooling with great enthusiasm and sales of craft materials went through the roof but now that Easter has been and gone, all the eggs are nearly eaten and we try to re-establish some kind of a routine once again, children up and down the country are coming down from their sugar rush with a bit of bump and a lot tears.

There have been a lot of tears in our house especially from our 5-year-old. She had sadly thought that the return of ‘Mummy-School’ (as she very aptly named it) would mean she might get to see her friends too. I have had to gently explain to her that unfortunately that still isn’t happening. This has resulted in all sorts of meltdowns and ‘mischievous’ antics. So, what can we do to try and help our little people to get through this? Especially as the reality of this new ‘normal’ is hitting home for many and causing them upset? I have put together some suggestions that hopefully may help both them and you! (because face it, this parenting malarkey is hard at the best of times without adding a pandemic to the mix to push us over the edge!).

Firstly, BELIEVE in YOUR abilities as a parent.

If you have been a parent for any length of time you are capable of things you never knew possible. You can cope with less sleep in a week than some people have in ONE night!

You don’t need to be a teacher or have an imagination with endless activity ideas, at the moment the goal is GOOD ENOUGH parenting (while juggling working from home). Your best IS good enough.

Secondly build a schedule that works for your family and aim to stick to it. I say aim because if, like us last week, your child is emotionally all over the place then it all goes out the window because at that time your child’s need for reassurance and help to deal with these ‘big feelings’ is greater and more important than any schedule. IF you are able however having a small amount of structure in a day and a sense of routine is beneficial to children, just as it is for us big people.

Next go outside. Going for your daily walk is important for mental health as well as physical health and it can help break up a long day. You can use this an opportunity for learning too, safely from a distance children can observe others at work; the post person delivering mail, the window cleaner and look for rainbow pictures made by their peers.

Play every day is very important! Allow your child to engage in creative activities with no ‘rules’ (like colouring in the lines on a picture or Lego). Play should be child-led at times, follow your children’s lead. Also aim to have 10 minutes one-to-one time with each child in the house with no distractions ( tv) as this can help maintain a parent-child relationship at a time when kids can be harder to get along with and push our buttons. Children also USE play to make MEANING of their world.

Unplug!! In a digital world, especially at the moment where we are relying on social media to connect with our loved ones, with our work and even do our shopping it can be hard to put down the phone but aim to have a little ‘quiet’ time every day with no devices! No tv, no Xbox, no phone etc. Just good quality uninterrupted time with your immediate family.

Family bonding is a building block of resilient parenting.

These are just suggestions, they are things that I have found have helped us, sending love and hugs to all the other parents out there. Please don’t forget to also look after you. Self-care is so important currently. If your normal way of self-care has been affected by closure due to the virus then you could be in a self-care deficit. Think of inventive ways to re-introduce self-care into your routine.

At the time of the writing this, we had the lowest number of deaths recorded since the peak at the start of April. Here’s hoping we are slowly getting on top of this! Remember no matter how much the kids are sounding like a broken record asking to see their friends or granny, please stay home and stay safe!

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