Samantha Neall, TCCs Little Kidlets Coordinator
Six months ago I would have been craving for a few days being stuck at home, dreaming of lazy afternoons on the couch watching movies with the kids, family board game nights and baking marathons as we try to perfect a choc chip cookie recipe.
Now after what feels like a million years in social isolation, long gone are those blissful thoughts of a picture perfect household. Instead replaced with squabbling kids, parents who are exhausted from trying to keep the enthusiasm going and a cheap packet of biscuits because who can even buy flour at the moment?… not me that’s for sure.
Like many before the Covid-19 pandemic I lived a busy life with two beautiful children and all that comes with them- swimming lessons, gymnastics, playdates, and birthday parties. I somehow managed to fit work in there and occasionally squeeze in a spin class or two. I am now finding myself home most of the week trying to juggle a bit of working from home, home schooling a seven-year-old and entertaining a preschooler. It is safe to say the novelty has well and truly worn off for all of us.
So how have we parents stayed sane during this time? I have no real answers but what I do have is a few ideas that may help just a little until school returns.
Let’s all lower our expectations.
Homeschooling is not a popular concept in our house. Rest assured I am not teacher material and I’m ok with that.
At times homeschooling has been a wonderful experience full of pride and excitement and other times it’s been very challenging with confusion and frustrations.
What I imagined the homeschooling experience to be is the polar opposite of its reality. At times I’m my own worst enemy, putting pressure on myself and the kids to get it spot on from the get go. After reaching out to what feels like every school mum I’ve bumped into, the experiences in our home are certainly not unique.
Everyone is finding this difficult both students and parent alike. Someone said to me the other day we are not homeschooling we are crisis schooling.
Celebrate the achievements of today, brush off the failures and try again tomorrow. Getting something done is better than nothing.
Ask for help.
Not coping? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I sent out an SOS to my best friends last week asking them the top three places to hide from your children. While their responses didn’t give me the answer I was desperately hoping for , with– “I was hoping you would tell me” and “ Nowhere, they’ll find you!”’ … swiftly followed by a photo of my God-Son camped outside the toilet door waiting for his mum. Sending out this quick message reminded me I’m not alone. It helped me find the fun in our current situation and reset me just a little.
It seems sending SOS messages is my specialty. As we recommenced our crisis schooling for term 2 it wasn’t a smooth transition for us, so I reached out for help from my daughters’ teacher. A quick SOS message to see if she was available for a chat to the both of us made the world of difference. It helped my daughter gain a bit more confidence in the work she was doing, and the phone call also help alleviate my concerns around the work and expectations of it. It’s not always easy to ask for help but you’ll always feel better for it.
What I’ve found most difficult being in social isolation with the family is maintaining my energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. One of my greatest joys in life is playing with my children. I love getting into the mud kitchen, jumping on the trampoline, and playing Lego or Barbie’s but at the moment I’m substitute playground buddy and it’s exhausting! There have been times where I’ve just simply run out of ideas on how to entertain them and if I suggest another bike ride they might just scream!
To help with this we have created an ‘I’m bored jar’. This is where during a much higher energy moment we created a list of activities the kids could do both on their own or with Dad and I. They’ve ranged from simple reading activities (not so popular) to slime pools and beauty salons roleplays.
What this has helped with is in those moments where the coffee hasn’t quite kicked in, yet the hard work has already been done. As soon as they pick the activity their imaginations are off running a mile on how to complete their task for the day. It hasn’t always worked out in my best interest with on some occasions yoga sessions may have turned into marching band practice or the beauty salon opened in the lounge room nearly resulted in me getting dreadlock. However, what did ensue was laughter. There is no better sound than my children laughing even if it is at me after my makeover!
As we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with schools starting their transition back to learning in classrooms, I have a new found respect and gratitude for our teachers. I’m sure we will eventually be able to look back on this time with fond memories but until then, enjoy the coffee, eat the chocolate and please if you find a good hiding place from your children let me know!
If you’re struggling to cope and need to reach out please contact.
- Beyond Blue -1800 512 348
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- NSW parent line 1300 1300 52