With an ongoing pandemic as our reality right now and lockdowns across various parts of the country, it’s no wonder that parents feel like they’re at the end of their rope.
Which led the ABC to ask people to relate their top tips on parenting during coronavirus.
From to-do lists, the structure of their day, the effort they put in and even the outlook they decide to have first thing in the morning, the ABC listed just some of the responses.
Here’s their special report:
Consider a routine
“My three-year-old doesn’t love change, so we had a bit of a difficult time with her adjusting to suddenly not having swimming and music and sport and all the other fun things we usually do. And she really misses her friends,” says Claire, a mum of two.
“What I find working well for us though is keeping a routine (as much as possible!) so we always go out for a walk or bike ride etc in the morning, and although she doesn’t really day-sleep anymore, she needs to go to her room for 30-60 minutes after lunch to rest.
“That time helps me prepare for the rest of the afternoon, otherwise it just feels like we’re on top of each other constantly and then it’s exhausting for us both.”
Rachel, a mum of three kids (ages 6, 4 and 2), is currently supervising home learning while her husband works away during the week.
She’s using her tips from last year’s lockdown again.
“I actually wrote them on my whiteboard to make sure I stick to them — they’ve helped me and my kids’ mental health a great deal,” she explains.
“1. Lower your expectations — this isn’t a permanent situation. You’re doing the best in an extraordinary set of circumstances.
“2. Get dressed, even if it’s into tights and a shirt.
“3. Go for a walk, every day.
“4. Dance party at least once a day.
“5. Teach life lessons — cooking, cleaning, gardening.
“6. Take each day as it comes.
“7. Enjoy the time with your kids that you wouldn’t have had the chance to have.
“8. Have YOU time.
“My kids are full of beans and trying to keep their little minds busy is often a challenge.
“There have definitely been some bad days but I’m grateful we have our health, and I’ll look back in 10 years and know I’ll be grateful for this time with them while they’re small.”
Take care of your mental health
Natalie from Kingsville, Melbourne, is a mum of two. She says her psychologist has helped her put in place some structure to get through the day.
She swears by “exercise in the home via an online platform (kids involved of course), and quiet time for half an hour each day where mum is not available.”
“I relinquish the never-ending tasks in the household and be still. I run after work whenever [I am] able for a change of scenery, walk on my own as much as allowed and demand a sleep-in when the boat is about to crash onto the land,” she says.
“We are all human and yes, the changes I made are not fool-proof but it is keeping the vessel sailing.”
Sarah from Melbourne is a single mum.
“I consider tips on managing lockdown like the tips everyone feels they need to give you when you have a baby,” she says.
“Just like that, most of those tips won’t apply to you or won’t work. You just need to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and sane — and know that it will end!”
School learning support officer and mum Nichola has a six-year-old at home with her in lockdown.
“My only advice is to get outside in the sunshine once a day for some exercise … and order takeaway when you can’t be bothered to cook!”
Hannah from Sydney is a working parent in lockdown with two kids.
“We’re just doing our best,” she says.
“We try to do one ‘fun’ thing a day, a planned activity that gives us all something to look forward to.
“Wednesday is pyjama bottom day, and tomorrow is takeout night. We are very fortunate to live near the beach, so trying to get out with sand between our toes is also something that’s allowing us to escape the pressure cooker of home life at present.”
First-time mum Beth, from Geelong, has an 18-month-old baby. She says every day is a rollercoaster.
“But I’m holding on to our beautiful Archie, knowing all he has experienced is love. All he knows is hugs and games with Dad and kisses and music with Mum,” she says.
“I know, in time, our family and friends will get to know our beautiful miracle baby like we have. I am grateful for that.”
“I am studying from home (midwifery) and although not ideal, we made it work,” says Chloe.
“We missed our friends and we missed our family, but we found comfort in a new trampoline and complex meals, in Netflix series and origami, boggle and card games. Our bubble of 5 kilometres and our family turned into a type of healing that we didn’t know we needed but we discovered we benefited from.
“I wouldn’t choose a lockdown but for us, it was something special.”
Or… take advice from a full-time nanny
Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that even those who are paid full-time to watch kids are blown away by what parents are being expected to get through.
While Olivia isn’t a parent herself, she’s a nanny to three different families whose parents are working from home.
“While I help out as much as I can, these times can be a real struggle for everyone involved,” she says.
“My best tips are:
“Have a routine. If children are aware of what’s coming next, you minimise arguments over how your day will look and it can help you plan out meals, activities and chores.
“Make use of your local parks. Extra physical activity always helps keep children from getting antsy, promotes better sleep and aids concentration throughout the day.
“Find games and activities that get little bodies moving that can be done in a living room or backyard. My personal favourite is musical statues, which can be jazzed up by playing in the form of an animal, or letting the children pick the music.
“Be forgiving with yourself, especially when it comes to screen time. Times are weird, and if your child is having a bit of extra screen time it doesn’t mean they’ll be glued to a TV the rest of their lives. If they need an extra 30 minutes in front of the iPad so you can feel sane, they’ll be grateful for a calm parent.”
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