Family life during Covid 19 times
I know, we are really privileged in our situation, as my husband and I haven’t lost our work and we have a big child friendly garden, where our kids an play. However also for all members of our family the Covid 19 crises is a challenge.
As a working mom I am busy on normal days. However, now I am truly struggling during lockdown to home school my kids while simultaneously working from home and running our household.
Being a mother during Covid 19 times for me means being a parent, a wife, a school teacher, music teacher, a fitness coach, an entertainer and friend to my kids, who miss their peers, a cook and housekeeper for 4 people who are now home 24/7, a shopping service for the elderly to keep them safe (a.k. my mother), a seamstress for face masks and last but not least, of course I still have my job as a professional social worker. I am sure many parents can relate. Well, ok, I am not so much an entertainer. I let my kids entertain themselves and when they get bored, and I don’t start to entertain, that’s when their creativity soars. But usually they play for hours by themselves, or with the sibling or with friends. Usually, if I feel bad after a couple hours of not seeing them, I go to them and ask if they need anything and they are like: “No we are busy, see you later.” (And by the way, all this without computer games. We don’t even have computer games or anything like that and my kids can sometimes during a week in the evening watch something via streaming service, but we don’t even have TV). However now, especially our younger one really misses her friends. So of course she needs an open ear more often and I cannot just let her be lonely… And I try to provide the right environment and tools to be creative and stay balanced and happy.
My kids are doing OK during this situation. But that is also thanks to us parents giving our best. Because our goal is to teach our kids, that crises can be overcome, that even in hard times there is love and light somewhere and that we as a family stick together and are there for each other. That in the darkest hours, loving people can shine the brightest.
This situation is no sprint. We are all in for a marathon. So we have to find coping methods, that will help us long term. We cannot just burn out bright and hot like a bush fire. We will probably need to keep our warmth and glow for many months. So we are trying to pace ourselves and find structures and routines that we can do for many months. For example, we realized, that homeschooling isn’t working, if our kids have to do it all by themselves but our home office work isn’t working, if we are constantly just helping with the homeschooling. So now, we are setting up homeschooling plans for the whole week for each child on Sunday evenings. And then we set up time slots, during which the kids can come and ask for help with their assignments and times, during which they will try to work independently on their homeschooling. I also find it really important, that we all start working at 8 a.m. because school work needs to be just done at some point of the day and then the kids are off and can just go outside and play for hours.
Here are some activities, we have so far in our family, that keep us positive, happy, healthy and grounded. Maybe I can inspire some parents a little with our ideas.
Lots of physical activity like inline skating, biking, hiking, swinging, jump starting our days on the trampoline and sometimes I even manage to make my kids join my digital yoga classes at home:
Lots of art and crafts, like turning our garden into an art gallery, woodworking and carving, body painting, sewing (face masks) etc.
Kids need the feeling of being helpful to the family and to contribute their fair share. And I, am neither willing nor – with all the work I have to do – able to play the maid for our family. So our kids are allowed to but also have to take over tasks at our house and contribute to the well-being of our family. For instance my 9 year old cooked lunch 3 times last week, while the rest of the family still had to do home office and homeschooling. Or our kids helped together and made pizza from scratch for dinner. They also repaired our old fence (cutting the wood, taking our the old nails and screws and putting the new sticks in place), mowed the lawn, helped with laundry and cleaning, worked with us in the garden, etc. Kids are capable and if we teach them how to, they can step up and do their fair share and they will be proud of the results of their work. I believe letting them do some work is good for their confidence and an important lesson for life. But we need to take them serious, as partners and have to give them some real tasks.
Simply playing outdoors without pressure, lots of contact to nature, plants, dirt, water and even fire, relaxing, listening to the bees humming in the blooming apple trees, reading a good bock while swinging in the hammock, playing with huge bubbles, playing with huge boxes, carving sticks, playing in the forest, picking flowers, all these are activities that keep my kids balanced and happy.
Music plays another important role in our lives. Whenever I can spare a little time, I just sit in the garden, next to where the kids a playing or reading a book and play my guitar a little and sing. And soon they are humming and we all are in a good mood. I wrote a song for my kids, and it’s so beautiful to catch them sing it, while they are playing. We also still all take our music lessons – now at home in a digital way. It is good to see and talk to our music teachers once a week. Sometimes we play music all together, my daughter with the violin, my son with the accordion or the piano.
And for us parents? We are trying to schedule our days in a way, that each of us can at least do a little sports like running, home-trainer or yoga everyday – even if it is sometimes as little as 30 minutes – and a couple times I was even able to squeeze in a little meditation. After all, we need some alone time, too.
I would love to read, what you have been doing in your families. Maybe you’ve got some new ideas for us, for there will be many more weeks with social distancing.