Parenting in a pandemicJon
Whilst there is a book on every aspect of parenting, the whole parenting in a pandemic guide does not seem to have been written yet!
I have three daughters aged 10, 8 and 4 and now find myself spending far more time with them than is probably healthy for any of us.
Over the last ten weeks we have created a home-school classroom in our dining room by getting old bookcases out of the shed and loft and adding an additional table, we have vaguely created a timetable and routine, and like with all of us there have been some real ups and downs.
My 10-year-old is academic and powers through all the schoolwork set by 11am and thirsts for more, so we can’t keep up. Whereas my 8-year-old is less keen on schoolwork and her way of asserting control where she feels she is powerless is to point blank refuse to do anything, so a request to do 5 minutes on timetables becomes a 45-minute hostage negotiation. The poor 4-year-old who should be starting school in September is pretty neglected while we focus on home-schooling the others. She has been in fulltime preschool for a while, and I had forgotten that much as 4 year olds love junk modelling, painting, play doh and other messy activities that take a while to set up and clean up, they only have 5 minute attention spans, so we haven’t been doing quite as much of that as we probably should.
In the early days I created this infographic for myself, partly as an aide memoir but also partly in an effort to feel useful for others. (It’s hard being a freelance consultant in the health and wellbeing world and work drying up suddenly!).
I know on the days I try and follow it, things are better, but on days when things have all gone awry, it’s okay – because the next (groundhog) day is an opportunity to try and repair some of the ruptures from the previous day.
What if instead of being behind, my kids are ahead?
As time has gone on, I think the most interesting thing for me during all this is the conflict I feel about academic learning versus nurture and play. Professionally and personally I have always felt nurture, play and PSHE/wellbeing type activities to always supersede academic learning in importance because you have to be happy and calm for learning other subjects to be optimum. In a global pandemic, it sort of feels like the academic side should be sacked off completely, but then I do worry about my 8 year old catching up with where she needs to be and I have to remind myself of this post: “What if instead of being behind these kids are ahead“.
I think a key for me is to focus on relationships, both interfamilial as well as their friendships and what we can do to support them in developing their relationship skills when they are having to find new ways of playing at 2 metres apart and interacting online rather than face to face.
I hope that in time all this will mean schools prioritise the importance of nurture play and PSHE more, but I fear they may focus on the ‘catch up’ element just as I have felt at home.
Mostly, I hope we all get through this with our relationship bonds strengthened and not in tatters.