This week I’m delighted to share with you this really useful guest post by Hannah Rix who is a special educational needs teacher and founder of the reading support app, Readingmate:
The words ‘pandemic’ and ‘lockdown’ hardly breed peace and joy, do they?
I’d like to let you in on a little secret…there’s little things you and your family can do every day that will make the remote learning, working from home and bleak winter weather much more bearable. I promise.
“We all require devotion to something more than ourselves for our lives to be endurable.”
—Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
- Talk your kids through things – I’m not saying they need a daily briefing (I think we’ve all had enough of those) but if things have changed or they’re things you and your partner have been discussing around your children that they may have picked up on, it’s time for a chat. For younger children they may not realise what ‘normal’ life is like. But for the older ones they will be feeling everything you’re feeling and discussing this with them is important. If they don’t want to talk to you, encourage them to call (not message or DM) but actually call a friend or relative that they will talk to.
- Maintain a routine – this is a really tough one, but I think we all learned from the first lockdown that bedtimes and alarms should still have a place in our lives. As humans we crave routine. And children rely on them even more. Strong routines can have a very positive impact on other things like behaviour and mood too. During the week try and stick to their average school day timings.This way you can schedule in breaks, mealtimes and fresh air.
- Prepare a packed lunch – sounds bizarre but I know that I’m guilty of wandering to the fridge in times of boredom. To prevent your children from doing the same, make them a pack up with their day’s quota of food. This way, if they want to eat it all by 9am, that’s fine but (just like on an average school day) there’s nothing else until dinner.
- Maintain contact with your social circle – seems hard to remember but there was a life before this with coffee dates, play dates, dinner dates… Wherever possible try to organise a time every week when you can do this either virtually, over the phone or in person (socially distanced and in the outdoors of course). This applies for everyone in the household. Spending time with others will not only be sweet relief from the same 4 four walls (and people) but it’s good for your mind and soul.
- Ration your time on social media or watching the news – I know that social media is for many a community of support but too much of it isn’t always a good thing. Set a timer or alarm on your phone for 15 minutes 3-4 times a day (this may be too much or not enough so change for your preference) and try to stick to it. The same applies for the news. I have stopped watching altogether now as I know it does me no favours. I’m not saying go this far but maybe only watch when there’s a big announcement? The combination of both of these will have a significant effect of your mental health and well-being.
- Commit to weekly and daily self-care – juggling kids, housework and actual adult responsibilities can leave little time for you. But it’s essential, imperative and of the utmost importance that you make time to take a breath. Daily self-care could be 10 minutes with a book before bed, doing a workout, drinking your coffee whilst it’s still hot. And your weekly self-care could be a long bath, a walk with a friend or date night with your partner (or yourself). Giving yourself this time will ensure that you’re able to be there for the rest of the family. And you won’t burn out.
- Find a way to relieve your stress – for me this is going for a walk for others it’s baking, cleaning or playing with their kids. You may not think you’re stressed but we’re living in one of the most stressful times. Fitting in time to release the pressure valve will really help. Make sure during this time you’re disconnected entirely. No phones, no news, no internet. You could even put on your favourite song and have a kitchen disco with your kids. Whatever it is, your brain and body will thank you for it.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself – out of all of these tips, this is the most important. If you get to the end of the day and you’ve done no home schooling, your kids have eaten only yogurt and crisps and you’re still in your pyjamas, that’s fine. Draw a line under the day and start fresh tomorrow. Your children are going to remember this as the time I spent loads of time with mum and dad. They genuinely don’t care if you’ve prepared a multi-sensory activity followed by a forest school walk and finished with a sandwich made with homemade sourdough. Seriously, we’re all doing what we can. And that’s enough. Don’t put on a show for your kids and pretend to be a ray of sunshine if that’s not how you feel. They’ll see through it anyway and it will make them more worried. Be open and honest and take a moment of calm for you.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
– H.Jackson Brown Jr., P.S. I Love You
About the author:
Hannah Rix is a special educational needs teacher and founder of the reading support app, Readingmate. The idea behind Readingmate is to combine books and tech to “gamify” reading. Readingmate is a rewards system, a book shop, and a recommendation algorithm all rolled into one free app. It is available for ioS and Android and is free download from the Google Play store here.