April 27 2020 Surviving lockdown with the kids in tow
In this latest blog article, one of our parent members, Sarah Dwyer, shares her family’s lockdown survival story.
So here we are in lockdown. A situation that I never thought we’d face. I had always thought that those who were placed under ‘house arrest’ for crimes got off lightly – well now I am rethinking that!
I was chatting to a girlfriend the other day on Facetime and we both agreed that when restaurants, cafes, pubs and the movies began to be shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic in was strange. But as a mum of three kids under 6, it wasn’t that often that I managed to enjoy these things anyway, so I was shocked but not alarmed. For me it was the panic buying in the supermarkets, when the school holidays started early, when we were told it was forbidden to go to the park – that’s when I realised that our day-to-day lives with the kids were going to change. And in all honesty – it made me feel not only apprehensive but sad. Sad that the basic things that we do, that not only give us joy as a family but also help to reset our minds (and can turn a bad day into a good day!), like going up to our local park for a swing, were now forbidden.
And just to complicate things a bit more, why not add a dose of DISTANCE LEARNING! To be honest I was quite apprehensive when I heard that the Victorian Government were insisting that all students who could learn from home, should learn from home for Term 2. Immediately I started to worry – how was I ever going to be able to get my preppie to sit down and concentrate for more than 10 minutes to do reading, writing and maths each and every day whist his two younger siblings run around doing their crazy, loud ‘playing’ (and the occasional fighting antics that they do!)? I’m not a teacher, I didn’t train as one and so have no idea the tips and tricks to use. All in all, I was worried about how I was I going to cope – I have so much on my mind already in this crazy time.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. After having a few ’freak-out’ moments (okay, they lasted a bit longer than a ‘moment’), I can honestly say that there have been some beautiful memories that we have created because we have had to become inventive in how we fill our time. Going on a ‘bear hunt’ (where people have placed teddy bears in their windows) and counting the number of teddies has been a fav, doing chalk drawings on the footpath outside our house for people as they stroll pass during the day, going online and watching the live zoo cams seeing the animals just ‘keeping on’, having family painting sessions and playing board games with the kids that my husband and I haven’t played since we were kids ourselves, are just some of our highlights.
Image credit: Sarah Dwyer
I have always had a great admiration for teachers – how patient they are, how caring they can be with kids, yet how disciplined they can be at setting boundaries and pulling misbehaving children in line. But now I have a whole new level of appreciation for what they do and how well they do it. One week into distance learning and we’re doing okay. Yes, things don’t exactly run to the ‘schedule’ our school has suggested. At times it has felt like I am juggling a million tasks, all while keeping an eye out for that missing toy car that one of the kids MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW! But the work is getting done. Plus, it’s been great for the whole family to participate in the PE classes and I’m actually enjoying seeing what tasks and activities are being set by the teachers.
I read the other day that in a recent study of parents with children between the ages of 3-16 years old, more than half of respondents (55%) said they were too busy with other commitments to spend quality time with their kids and enjoy the “fun of parenting” [i].
We all know that we are usually so stretched with work, childcare and school drop offs, then the pickups, after school activities, family occasions, birthday parties, keeping the household running – the list is endless. There never seems to be enough hours in the day. So, it wasn’t surprising to me that 78% of parents in this study said that they wished that they had more time to spend with their kids [i]. Another 82% felt like their children were growing up far too quickly [i]. So, what then is stopping so many parents from accomplishing these goals? The most prevalent reason given by parents was simple, everyday distractions (50%) and lack of time (44%) [i].
And now with the situation that we are presented with, what do we have more of? TIME! So, as hard as it may be and not every day will run smoothly, I am trying to look at the upside of all this. We keep being told that it won’t last forever, and that is the one certain thing in these uncertain times. So, each day I am trying to not be too hard on myself or the kids. I let things slide a little more then I usually would to make sure that we all come out of this happy and healthy, both physically and mentally. So, we can all look back on this time and say; despite everything, there were some golden memories that we all made together.
[i] Anderer, J. Maybe Tomorrow: Most Parents Confess They’re Too Busy For Quality Time With Their Kids. https://www.studyfinds.org/maybe-tomorrow-55-of-parents-confess-theyre-too-busy-for-quality-time-with-their-kids/ Accessed 17/4/20