Hey you, hiding from your children again while you scroll the internet trying to have 2 uninterrupted minutes peace. I’ve been there. I understand.
As I start this, my 18 month old daughter is trying to stick a drumstick down her throat and my 3 year old son is having yet another hour of technology time! All my friends are complaining about home-schooling their capable children while I am trying to stop mine climbing over the furniture, wiping bums and cleaning accidents all while trying to do the day job, study, write to you wonderful people, keep my home from becoming a petri dish and try to be some kind of wife. And Instagram says I should be baking bread and going for runs.
I am managing though, I’m not saying the water is calm and the boat is solid, but it is moving in the right direction. Some days are slower than others, some days I feel all I’m doing is bailing out water trying frantically not to sink, but progress is being made and I’m going to share with you how I am doing it and hopefully you can share some of your experience and tips with me.
- Join or (in my case) Re-Join the 5am club.
I know it sounds silly but my children’s day starts at 7am. Getting up at 5 gives me the time I need to frame my mindset for the day. What ever is your best and favourite morning routine that makes you feel your best, get up before the children and do it. Then when they wake up, you will be ready to deal with the sodden bed sheets, exploding nappy or what ever fresh way to disgust you, your children can come up with.
For me, this means having a massive, strong coffee; meditate, write in my gratitude journal, A little yoga and a hot, undisturbed shower.
- Plan a routine.
In my family we have a weekly white board. We have a family meeting each Sunday and put on anything from the phone calendars, any live training I have etc. on the schedule (with pictures) so that everyone is aware of what is happening. I also include on this routine our housework times, work times, a craft activity each week that we can do as a family, screen time and 1:1 play time.
This routine isn’t particularly rigid, but it gives everyone an idea of how the days will go. That predictability is wonderful for the children, but also very helpful for us adults.
- 1:1 play time.
Children thrive on our attention, whether that attention is from playing with them or yelling at them, they need it. Ensuring that at least once a day (preferably twice) you have that time dedicated to just you and one child gives them what they need to let you get on with what you need to do so much easier.
I have 10 minutes set aside for each of my children in the morning and again in the afternoon. My 3 yr old, picks his own activity (within my parameters) and I go along with it, being in his world for that time. Being available, asking questions and answering any that he has. For my 18 month old, the morning one is an educational toy that we can explore together. The afternoon one, I will be honest, is me putting her down for her nap, with songs and cuddles.
You will find a way to incorporate this play time in your own way, a way that works for you and your family. If you have a large family it may be that they only get this once, or even every other day.
When the children have had this attention from you, or know that it is coming and can see when on the routine, they are more accepting when you have to work. It also helps rid you of the parent guilt, it’s okay to say “No” now, because you know they have had time with you or will be getting it soon.
- Stop being so hard on yourself.
If you haven’t noticed, we are in unprecedented times and things are stressful, scary and isolating. We can’t go to the soft play and let them burn off all that energy. We can’t go to the park or grab a glass of wine with our friends to just have a break from the children. If parenting were subject to the same regulations as any other job, it would be declared against our human rights, and that’s when we can have a break from them.
So what if nothing went to plan. Who cares if the children are eating chicken nuggets for the 3rd time this week. My children have full bellies every night, they are clean, safe and happy. My work is done to a level I am happy with and my home may not win any cleanliness awards, but no one is going to get E-Coli.
Yes, when things were ‘normal’, it was a different story (with many more vegetables and much higher standards), but things are not ‘normal’ so why do we have these high expectations that we can maintain ‘normal’ in our homes?
When we set these unachievable standards for ourselves and our homes, we embark on a journey that is only going to get harder. They just aren’t attainable anymore, but rather than adjust the goal, it’s all too easy to start to see ourselves as the failure, in any or all aspects of our lives. Eventually we stop doing anything at all above the strictly necessary to preserve our tiny humans and risk falling into depression.
Look at the goals you have set and ask yourself, with the extra time to change bums, wet bedsheets and make 422 snacks a day – do you actually have time, physical energy and emotional energy to achieve all of them. What is essential? Is there anything you could do differently?
- And above all remember….
YOU ARE ENOUGH. In all actuality, you are amazing. If your children have clean clothes, clean bums and full bellies you are rocking it. You are a phenominal parent. Lose your shit, cry in the cupboard (or eat chocolate bars) and finish your evening with a large G&T; you are still awesome. Whatever stresses and worries you have, you really are doing a great job and there is no one your children would rather be stuck in a house with.
You show up every day. You love them unconditionally and they love you whether the house is spotless or not. You really are doing an amazing job.
If you have any other ways to cope with parenting children of any age during lockdown, please do share and lets support each other through these difficult times.