Who’s struggling with lockdown 3.0? Nearly all the parents I’ve spoken to through work this week are struggling managing their own expectations for children’s work while juggling children of multiple ages engaging (or not) in home learning. The thing is no teacher or school want children or families to struggle emotionally or mentally and we can’t expect or force you to complete every single thing, every single day (if any teacher or school is trying to do this my advice: look for a new school). What we really want is for children to be safe, emotionally stable and happy, while staying engaged and motivated to learn. This sounds like a big ask but it’s really not! Firstly, if it’s a struggle you DO NOT have to do it all, try to at least do 2 lessons a day if you find it hard. Some days you might do more some days it might all go to shit and you might do none if it that’s ok too – read a book and go for a walk instead!
Here are some things that can help:
READ! If learning is to much and you do nothing else with your day spend half an hour either reading a book to your child or with your child.
Have a screen free afternoon. Instead try some baking, building a den or painting all of these activities have elements of learning but don’t put pressure on you with a specific outcome. Take pictures and share them with your class teachers. If you’ve got teens get them to supervise younger children do this while you have some time to yourself.
Get a change of scene. Even though it’s cold and wet GO OUTSIDE! Set yourselves the challenge of jumping in every puddle you see. Even teenagers will grudgingly enjoy this once you get them doing it (water and mud will not make you rusty!).
MOVE! Put on your favourite tunes and dance.
Tidy…this is a bit of a strange one but when we get stressed or anxious this can often feel like a lose of control (this is true for children as well), our environment can also have an inpact on our emotions. By tidying we exert control over our space it’s important to be present in the moment while doing this, be thorough, think about where you want each thing to go and why, de-clutter get rid of all the broken, unwanted things. Having children/young adults do this in their own rooms help them to regain a sense of control.
Sit down, no not to watch telly to play obviously! Just sit down and join in whatever game children are playing, with older ones – a puzzle and a good chat works wonders.
Something that will help you to have more good days than bad is Routine! Children (and adults) constantly say they hate routines but secretly we all enjoy a bit of structure and knowing where we are. Keeping remote learning to specific parts of the day and something that is short and sweet will really help. Building in specific times to spend 1:1 time with each child individually and time to try some of the above activities. Click here for an example timetable:
And if it all gets to much try some of these mindful techniques to get back on track.
The STOP technique
Does what it says on the tin – STOP
S – stop what your doing, put it down walk away.
T – take a breath. Follow your breath as it moves in and out, focus on it and try to keep your mind from other things.
O – as thoughts or feelings come to you observe them, name them then refocus on your breath.
P – proceed with something that will get you away from the root problem, it might be a walk round the block, 5 minutes playing candy crush or just day dreaming.
The RAIN technique
This is all about dealing with strong emotions.
R – recognition of the strong emotion and when it’s being experienced.
A – acknowledge that the emotion is there.
I – investigate the emotion, what was the cause, when did you experience, what where the other circumstances.
N – non-identifying, this sounds strange but it really means not engaging with it. Accept that it’s there and that you feel it but don’t engage with it. Accept it as a passing thing. You feel angry now but you know why and you’re not going to be feeling like this for ever, it’s ok to feel it but it will pass.
For children this can sometimes be hard to do in the moment as strong emotions can be completely overwhelming but using this technique just after they’ve calmed down or at the end of the day will help them to learn to manage big emotions and give you chance to make a plan for how to manage them.