I couldn't really write a blog and not have a post discussing parenting during the lock down. So here it is...
How are you coping with parenting during lock down? It is strange, isn't it? Everything is so different and yet somethings are so similar. In a way it feels like one long weekend (extremely long weekend!). Husband is home from work, the children aren't at nursery and we are home all the time. However, the key difference is we can't go and visit anyone, we can't go anywhere! Except our daily walk (thankfully we can still do this!). I found I went through different stages, confusion (are we in a movie?!) ,denial (why can't we just..), upset (why can't we see anyone else?!) and finally acceptance (this is the way it has to be for now), to get where I am today. I found it was hard to adjust but now it's been so long, a new type of normal has emerged. We have slowly got ourselves into a routine. It's still hard not seeing anyone, but we are almost used to the way things are now.
An appropriate illustration of the times, by Momics (Instagram)
Don't get me wrong, the minute we can, we are going to see family and go to a playground and do all the things we can't do anymore such as making the most of our annual Legoland pass. I can't wait until the time we can go into a supermarket as a family and causally browse. I go now on a mission, with my list in hand. In and out with no ceremony and back home as quickly as I can. I find the whole experience fills me with anxiety and I never thought I would ever write a sentence or feel like that.. about shopping in a supermarket!
But back to parenting. Wow. I didn't anticipate parenting during these sorts of times and I am not ashamed to say I don't enjoy every moment together! The constant thinking of what activities we can do, what meals to cook, are we doing enough educational things, are they watching too much TV? I don't enjoy the tantrums over snacks, or the meltdowns over... who knows! But these things are part of parenting which I have come to accept. And they happen much more often now. Partly because we are spending so much more time together, but partly because in their own way, they are dealing with the changes as we are.
My children are very young. I don't think Toddler really knows what's happening. Baby certainly doesn't. We explained initially that everything is closed because everyone has gone on holidays. It was the only thing we could think to say to help him understand at his level. He seems to accept this. When we go for our walks, we tell him to avoid other people and stay close because everyone is playing a game of tag and we don't want to get caught. With time, we did explain about a virus making people poorly and that's why. But he almost prefers our original story because that's something he understands. The word "Virus" doesn't mean anything to him. He know we have to wash our hands more and he does. So you know what, that's ok. If it's easier for him to believe everyone is on holidays (including all family members!) then that's ok with us. We don't want him to worry about something he (or us!) can't do anything about.
What has your experience been? I find Instagram can be a wonderful source of inspiration at these times and it's so helpful to know we aren't alone in this. Other parents feel the struggle too. But then you get the odd one or two who seem to have everything perfect. Home schooling like clockwork, beautiful homemade meals, children who stay put more than 2 minutes to finish a crafting activity, a tidy house! I do wonder if that is their true picture, or just what they want us to see. It's ok not to be perfect. It's ok to not be able to find the time to clean your house (despite being home all day!). We have to do what we have to do to get through these times. If that means a day in PJs, and beans on toast, and a movie afternoon, that that's what it means!
Who doesn't love an animal in PJs, thanks to Leonardo the Corgi (Instagram)
One thing I would recommend is carving out time for you. I used to spend time practicing meditation using an app called Calm. However due to one reason or another, I had stopped and soon my subscription ran out. But at the start of the lock down, I realised I needed to make time for my mental well being. So I have reinstalled the app and now practice meditation daily. There are many meditations and masterclasses, as well as sleep stories to help you get to sleep at night in the app. But as a minimum I practice using the Daily Calm feature. Each day a new guided meditation is uploaded. I find I am able to relax and turn off my thoughts and worries, even if it is only for the 10 minute length of the daily calm.
I would love to know how you are coping with the lock down. Have you found anything in particular that helps you?
Fundamentally I think at this time, we need to be kind to ourselves. Be gentle with our emotions and try to remember this time will pass.