We're about to begin week 6 of lockdown #3... This is no mean feat! Attempting to juggle remote working, parenting, home-'schooling', all the extra work that comes with this - and remain positive and perky - is t.o.u.g.h.
It's hard not to fall into the comparison trap on social media (see my blog post on dropping perfection) and it does us no favours. It's so important to remember that whilst we're all caught up in the same storm, we're travelling through it in very different boats!
Perhaps you have a toddler trying to climb on your lap or wanting to breastfeed during your Zoom calls.
Maybe you have an older child/children struggling with their school work and you don't know how to support them or motivate them to complete it.
Perhaps you have a big age gap between your children and find it difficult to meet their individual needs at the same time.
You may be doing this all on your own and feeling frustrated.
You may be sick to death of Google-bloody-classroom, taking photos and uploading comments/responses.
You may feel like you're not doing everything/anything well...
Pause here for a moment and take a long, slow, deep inhalation through your nose, relax your forehead, relax your jaw, relax your shoulders and exhale....
I'm a mum of two under 5s, I'm also a very experienced teacher and a women's emotional health coach. This doesn't mean I'm finding this easy! I do have some tricks up my sleeve though, and I'd love to share them with you.
Suggestion #1: Simplify!
Relax your home-'schooling' and productivity standards - to a level appropriate for a global pandemic! Give yourself a break.
Here are a few mantras to play with:
*I am not home-'schooling', rather: "I am doing my best to help my kids learn at home during a crisis." or "I am facilitating distance learning provided by the school."
*I am not 'working from home,' rather: "I am doing my best to work at home during a crisis."
*"I cannot be as productive as normal because these are not 'normal' times."
Suggestion # 2: Structure!
Routine and predictability are calming during times of stress - for both children and adults! But rather than having a rigid structure or timetable, I recommend designing a Family Rhythm, which allows for a little more flexibility.
Collaborate and decide on a rhythm that works for the whole family. I suggest working around a few set times: wake up, meal times and bedtime.
It's perfectly okay if things don't go 'to plan' every day. Each day is an opportunity to fine-tune what is working and let go of what's not.
With school-age children, your role is to help your child/ren to feel safe and do their best with the learning provided by their teachers.
A balanced rhythm includes time for play and fun (inside & out), connection, refuelling, rest and bonding time.
Suggestion #3: Connection!
Being in such close quarters during lockdown, is a chance to step back and focus on connection. In these uncertain times, children will be protected if they feel connected.
Focus less on the academics and more on creating safety, belonging, and acceptance. The most important skill you can teach your child/ren is how to manage their big feelings.
One of the best ways to do this is by modelling how you cope with anxiety. I do this by moving from what if to what is.
WHAT IF they don’t learn to read and they fall behind? → WHAT IS is that I will do my best to support my child/ren and ask the teacher for help.
WHAT IF we get sick? → WHAT IS is that we are not sick and we are taking appropriate precautions.
Use this strategy with your child if they have big worries too! It’s grounding for you - and for them.
Suggestion #4: Self-Compassion
We are parenting in very challenging times. Be kind to yourself. Here are a few reminders: