How to get through this lockdown
And still have your mother-child relationship, and your sanity, intact
Today marks day 20 of our national lockdown. Tomorrow was the day that we would have been set free, but thanks to a lockdown extension our parole date have now been postponed to the end of April. And I am not getting my hopes up too high – at this stage, I will much rather stay inside for another few weeks than stand the chance of being part of the reason that it spreads again. Plus, my anxiety is already through the roof just thinking of releasing my kids into the world again (not because I am scared of what they will do to the world after almost 40 days in the house – mind you that is a consideration – but more because WHAT IF THEY GET IT). 20 days without any outside interaction, no physical touch except for the people locked up with me. No outings (except for garbage day! Yeah!). And no one except myself to keep me sane.
How have you been faring? Coping? Not coping? Kids coping? Obviously, they have questions, and their insecurities not only feeds off of ours but also feeds ours. Vicious circle. I have tried my best to stay grounded and level-headed and would love to share with you my best tips. Hopefully, this can help you navigate the last stretch of this stormy journey!
My top tips for staying sane if you are in lockdown with your kids:
Create a creature or something that can be blamed
For us, it is a combination of the fairies and a ninja. If the kids ask where are the 10 easter eggs that they had left after eating the rest of the box – don’t know, maybe the fairies took them? Where is the toy that they have been fighting over for the past 4 days? The ninja took it. Who ate the last ice cream? Fairies. Who drank the last bottle of red wine? Nin… oh no wait, that was me. But the ninja made me do it.
Give in to screen time
I know Netflix is not a baby sitter, but do you know that out of the 24 hours we have, kids roughly sleep 10 of them? So if you have a better idea to keep them busy for another 2 of those 14 awake hours, please share. By 10h in the mornings, we have already done their worksheets (read Homeschool), painted, made breakfast, did an activity (I plan 2 a day) and had free-play time. We have been at it since 6h. So by 10h, I am ready to hire babysitter Netflix so that I can have an hour or who of constructive adult time (translation: 1 cup of hot coffee). The same happens at 7h in the evenings.
Change your morning or evening routine
I usually get up at 4h15. That gives me 2 hours of work time before the kids get up. Flash-forward to post-outbreak lockdown. The kids are out of their routines, we have not had enough motivation or time to settle into new ones (not positive ones in any way, do not be fooled by Instagram!) and so the kids are going to bed later than usual, but strangely enough not sleeping in later in the mornings. That means I get adult-alone time later in the evenings, so my own bedtime has now moved up with 1 or three hours. To stop the carnage that will ensue if I have to get up at 4h15 after going to bed at 00h, I have switched off my alarm and now rely on my two beautiful blessings to wake me in the mornings. Usually with demands for milo, sometimes sweetly.
Figure out how to video call
Yes, I know you will probably need video calling for your work. But you will also need it so that, even just for a few minutes, you can have someone else entertain your kids. Have them video call their grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, neighbours, teachers, heck anyone you have a number for who can give you a few minutes’ relief. There are even services (paid of course, but gran might not mind doing it for free) where someone reads to your kids. If video calling won’t work, then Youtube should be your new best friend. (just remember – safety first. Always make sure you know what they are watching on Youtube)
Understand that this is a trying time for your kids, and that they might not be able to really understand what is going on. They hear scary things like death-toll and critical on a daily, and without the context, this is even scarier. My 5 year old asked me the other day when will it be our turn to get the virus, like it is a book that you pass on to the next available person. Try to be lenient with them as much as possible, you know without actively encouraging them to be brats. Give them that extra treat every now and then, allow that outburst, and reprimand in a gentler way. Maybe the ninja will then be more lenient with you and that last bottle of wine…
Keep your body moving
I am not encouraging you to jump on the Instagram fitness bandwagon. I am encouraging you to play together with your kids. Teach them to skip, to jump rope, swim, to ride a bike. Play Simon says and bake mud cakes and jump on one leg. Do everything with them. After spending the afternoon as a frog, I can barely walk, but the joy they had on their faces (not to mention the joy I am providing now, practically crawling around) was priceless. And I got to move my body without any formal exercise routine.
Have at least one balanced meal a day
Pick one meal, and make it good. Pack as much goodness into that meal as you possibly can, and relax around the rest. I know sugar interferes with our immune system, and under normal circumstances, my kids are not allowed to touch the stuff, but this is extraordinary times. I am not saying allow them to finish a bag of chips every day, just that there is nothing wrong with having waffles for breakfast and pizza for dinner. Especially if they are home-made! So let go a bit and allow them to guide you.
Water. I mean drink water. And tea. And coffee. Keep hydrated and check that your kids are hydrated as well. Nothing interferes with normal processes such as thirst, so keep them reminding them (and yourself) to drink.
Now is the time to tap into your childhood dreams of being a princess or a warrior or whatever you dreamt of. Dress up, then have a playdate with the other characters in your house. Give in and allow your imagination to run free – you will be surprised how good it feels, and how energised you will be afterward.
This is the one thing I have dreaded. I do not have the patience nor the aptitude to teach my kids anything more than good manners and grit. Luckily my kids are 3 and 5 years old, so the expectations were pretty low (I hope, unless I missed that memo). Did you know that the best way for kids to learn is through free play? Where you give them an activity or toy and then give them gentle nudges that allows them to design their own game. I encourage my kids to keep themselves busy ALL THE TIME. So maybe I am not that bad at homeschooling 🙂
Accomplish tiny things
Last week we focussed on saying vanilla. It still comes out as vamilla. But we have 3 more weeks to go! Set small goals, so that you have the potential of accomplishing LOTS of goals, sometimes even daily. Singing “twinkle twinkle little stars” correctly, so the kids know how long to wash their hands for. How to correctly refer to the virus (no, not as THE VIRUS, it has a name you know). How to use your inside voice, even when outside. Little things that can make the worlds’ difference.
If you are struggling to find the good to focus on, now is the time to start a gratitude practice! Don’t know where to start? Start with my journal prompts, get them here
More than anything else, I want to encourage you to find the light in these times. Yes, they are trying, yes they are not ideal, yes you feel as if you are going off of your rocker. But there are also so many good things. I was with my eldest when she lost her first 2 baby teeth. I have experienced firsthand how much my 3-year-old has changed over the past 4 weeks. They have taught me songs, I have watched movies never before seen, we have tried new recipes. So many things that I never would have had if this had not happened.
I am stressed and anxious, the uncertainty is eating me alive. I am worried about the life that we will have to live in order to keep these two safe. But I am also so grateful and feel so blessed that I get to spend this time with them. That I get to keep them safe, see them grow, and help them adapt. It just goes to show that when you search for the silver lining, the dark cloud will start to fade.
See you soon