Most children will not be going back to school for the rest of this summer term and even if they have returned, the school summer holidays are fast approaching. Can you believe that we have been in this situation since March?
Many parents are finding this period of being ‘everything for everyone,’ increasingly challenging to manage. We know from our own experience that juggling work commitments whilst keeping the children happy, occupied and motivated, has been really tough.
At the moment, we (Erin and Fi) both still work full-time and run our business, Our Little Globe in the evenings and weekends. It is what many small-business owners do and in truth, there have been times in the last few months when we have both have felt completely exhausted. Fi says, “When we have finally got the girls to bed and tried to open the laptops again, we simply have not had the energy. The children are naturally going to bed later and by 9pm sometimes we need our beds too.”
Erin agrees, “We are extremely lucky that as mums, friends and business partners we can rely on each other to push through.As long as we are both not exhausted in the same week, one of us can take the lead so the other can take a bit of time for themselves. These have been the most unsettling months we have ever experienced and how we handle it changes most weeks.”
Both of us happily acknowledge that each time we think we have cracked the daily routine, it goes to pot. It is about trial and error (with most things) and finding that the small simple steps provide the best help. Take a look below to read what has gotten us through 108 days (and counting!) of lockdown.
We are not teachers or homeschoolers
First of all, take time to remember we are NOT home schooling! Home schooling is when you have made a well-thought out decision to keep your children at home, and usually is carried out knowing you have the energy, time and resources to commit to it.
Lots of homeschool mums and their kids, subscribe to Our Little Globe and they agree that this is different, even for them! Museums, leisure centres and play-centres are not available for us to use yet and it is hard to be the maker of fun all day, every day!
The current situation can be better defined as distance learning – a big difference as it has been enforced and is not a conscious parenting choice. It helps to bear this in mind if you are battling to complete school work, you are only doing your best, and that is good enough!
Do not overburden yourself; if your child is managing to do some work during the week, this is a great achievement. Everyone’s energy levels change day to day, and if you are struggling one day with the children’s motivation to work (or even your own), leave it until later or the next day and approach it when you are feeling fresher.We speak to lots of teachers and they all agree that putting your child’s mental well-being ahead of schoolwork is the priority.
Learning can take on so many different forms and one of all our all-time favourite quotes is “not all classrooms have four walls.” Therefore, if you can find time to go outside for a walk and get some sunshine happy Vitamin D and fresh air, class it as an outdoor P.E lesson! Right now, excercise in any form, is one of the most beneficial things you can do to boost your family’s mental health and overall long-term health.
Maintaining a routine, particularly with younger children can be helpful, but again, don’t be too hard on yourself when it sometimes goes out of the window! Fi, sets out her eldest girl’s homework each night, so it is readily available the next day and she is not frantically looking for pencils and rulers, whilst trying to complete her own work as well. “If I spend ten minutes or so each night getting Georgie’s work ready, it leads to less fuss and arguments in the morning,” she says.
Erin says when she found out her husband was going back to work after seven weeks off, she panicked because that meant taking on all of the childcare, whilst still working full time. “My husband being off work, meant I could work more or less the same as before. So when he got the call to say he could come back, my first reaction was to burst into tears. He then gently reminded me that he was one of the lucky ones who had a job to go back to, which set me off again. It was not a good day!”
Erin’s daughter is not quite at school-age so there has been very little in terms of homework from her daughter’s pre-school. Therefore, she’s tried to focus on how best to break the day up.
Erin decided to make a conscious effort to teach her four year old how to ride her bike without stabilisers. Now each morning before breakfast, Erin and her daughter complete their ‘daily mile’ around the park. Erin runs and her little girl cycles next to her. It is the only staple that they keep, but it starts the day well and she knows that even if they don’t manage to get out again that day, they have had a good run around anyway. “The park is five minutes away and it’s been an absolute blessing. Last week an older couple shouted across that they were glad to see Anabelle riding much more confidently these days, it made us both smile.”
Screen-time – saviour and demon!
Both Erin and Fi have struggled with how much screen-time their kids are getting. On the one hand when you have an important call or need an hour to deliver on a deadline, they both agree that screen-time is their safety net to ensure some quiet and they are both clear, that they are not going to feel guilty about it.
They have recently added into the mix some child-friendly chores to reduce that time on the screens when it is not needed as much. Erin says, “Anabelle loves pretending to be a mummy to her dolls and I hate emptying the dishwasher – I knew there was a solution here! Each morning Anabelle sets ‘her girls,’ down to their breakfast. She goes into full-on ‘mummy mode,’ reminding them to eat their breakfast and chiding them about their naughtiness, whilst she puts all the cutlery away. To her it’s just another form of role-play, but it also means I can avoid having to empty the dishwasher. It is a win-win!”
Teaching kids life-skills not only helps the endless household chores, it also keeps kids active and improves their problem-solving skills. So what, if the washing-up turns into a bubble explosion or the socks and underwear end up in the wrong drawer, at this point a small routine will help everyone get through the summer break.
We have been focusing on the children, but of course you need to look after yourself too and we know how difficult this can be. With half of UK adults reportedly not sleeping as well as usual during lockdown, we think it is super important to be flexible and kind to yourself as we all navigate this time of uncertainty.
Fi recommends a car journey to no-where! “Jumping in the car for a drive on my own with the music turned up, gives me that time just to chill out,” she says. “A bit of Celine Dion blasting out and a drive around is really one of only a few options I have at the moment. I genuinely come back a calmer person after one of my drives.”
The main takeaway is to give ourselves a break. These are unprecedented times that you and your children will remember forever. We say, unexpected family time has to be cherished, but so do the moments of quiet solitude.
Ps. We all know, come September we will be missing our babies like mad as we wave them off to start a new term!