For the past 12 days, I have been living in a complete fog. I have had no energy, high fever on and off, a head that feels like it is stuffed with cotton wool and totally lost all sense of taste and smell, which is surprisingly unnerving. Thankfully I have no breathing difficulties and my husband and children are feeling well at the moment.
A substantial number of people I know have the virus and sadly some people in my community have already died from it or are in critical condition. I have tried to only listen to the news in the morning and evening and have barely looked at social media.
I have spent 25 years teaching children and guiding and supporting parents. Families are going to need this support more than ever and when my head is clearer I will try to effectively provide that support.
I am a very positive person by nature. Despite this being the most challenging time our generation has faced (both health wise and ultimately economically), I wanted to share my personal reflections on the positive aspects of this situation for parents with children at home.
Children are certainly learning a lot about how to cope with setbacks and when things don’t go their way. Mine have lots of disappointments that they need to accept such as: A levels being cancelled, no opportunity to celebrate their 17th birthday with friends or have that first driving lesson, 2 years of complex orthodontic treatment will completely regress. Yet this is nothing compared to the difficulties some are facing and every day we focus on what we can be grateful for.
There is so much time to work on being independent and developing important, practical, everyday life skills like: cooking, washing, cleaning the home, sensible food shopping & decluttering. Genuinely contributing to the running of the home has always been important for children but now they have more time available to do so and can begin to truly appreciate everything involved in running a household
There isn’t anything happening anywhere, so nothing to be missing out on!
(I think this is the best bit – no chauffeuring the kids around).
Parents often complain about their children being entitled (mine included at times). Now the children would massively appreciate even the most simple of things like being able to go outside for a walk or see their extended family and friends face to face. Absolutely everything they took for granted has new significance.
My children have been sent a mountain of work by their schools and so far I have felt too unwell to help them set any structure to their day or ensure it gets done. Nevertheless they are working on vital life skills such as: time management, perseverance, procrastination, organisation, self-discipline, adaptability, focus and staying motivated. These skills are way more important in the long run than learning content from the school curriculum.
Passion for learning
Finally children have the time, space and opportunity to follow their passions and develop an interest in learning for the sake of learning, not because it’s part of the national curriculum or exam syllabus.
There is more opportunity to develop skills in areas such as art, dance or music.
After this I don’t think children will ever complain they are bored. Ordinarily for many children, if they aren’t at school, out doing an activity, on a play date or in front of a screen, they are at a loss as to how to keep occupied. Many parents are working from home without childcare, so kids have to come up with creative ways to keep busy without relying on adults.
This is an opportune time for emotional meltdowns; both parents and children. We will all gain lots of practice at managing and articulating difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, frustration, boredom & overwhelm.
What an absolute blessing to have so much time enjoying our children. Full time working parents can be there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never need to miss putting their child to bed. In fact spending time at home with your family is the recipe to reducing the number of deaths.
Myself and my children have spent way more time calling relatives and friends. I have spoken to my own parents and siblings for much longer and more regularly than I ever normally have time to.
Absolutely no need to waste time worrying about what we look like, where to go or what to buy. The only think we shop for is basic food, stationary, household and cleaning products.
There have been so many great initiatives to support the wider community. As I’m ill, we have been in total self-isolation so as to protect others. If it turns out that my family is immune, we can work on ensuring the elderly and those who are particularly vulnerable with underlying health conditions can be supported.
To be honest, I am being far more permissive than usual with screen time restrictions. I’ve noticed that my children are choosing to have real conversations through a great array of apps such as Zoom, FaceTime & Houseparty rather than just using Snapchat and WhatsApp messages.
The situation we are in is crazy and at times it feels like the world is falling apart but somehow it really helps that for the last few days the sky in London is consistently blue, the trees are flowering and the birds are tweeting. Rather than looking out on grey skies and rain, even if we can’t yet go for walks outside. Nature is helping to lift my mood and the environment is certainly less polluted.
Siblings will have ample opportunity to spend time together to practise managing conflict, sharing, respecting each other’s privacy and boundaries, handling teasing etc. They may even begin to appreciate they have someone at home to play with and are actually lucky to have siblings.
Life is so precious and we all now truly understand how important good health is. It should never be taken for granted.
I have often wished we could go back to the days pre -technology but now I appreciate how fortunate we are to have it on so many levels. To be able to connect, stay informed, learn, shop remotely & protect ourselves.
This is a perfect opportunity to role model, emphasize and talk about the values that are most important to us as a family such as: kindness, empathy, honesty, work ethic, self-discipline & independence. The number one way to get through this period is through kindness, compassion and supporting others.
What else has ever united the entire world in quite the same way? This virus crosses borders, religion, ethnicity and culture. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. Every country is working together to collate information and support each other. Every single one of us has had to make adjustments to our lives.
For as long as I can remember and even before having children, I haven’t been able to sleep past 6am!!! My body seems to know there is no rush to get up, or perhaps it’s just the virus wearing me out. My kids are catching up on so much sleep by not having to wake up early for school.
There is time to work on any hobby that can be conducted at home. You can teach yourself almost anything online. (Between feeling ill, managing work the kids and the house, I’ve had no time for hobbies or reading but my kids have!)
This exercise of looking for the positives and what I can be grateful for has actually made me feel so much better. It’s worth brainstorming with your kids.
What positive outcomes have I left out that you could share?
Would love to hear your thoughts.