The current lockdown, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, will pose many challenges for parents across Australia. Thinking of new and creative ways to challenge a child’s imagination and inspire them to engage in new tasks will, no doubt, become more difficult as the weeks progress and as the novelty of interacting with their own surroundings wears thin.
I am finding my enthusiasm and stamina for juggling the needs of three children, one of whom has a disability, along with running my own business waxes and wanes daily. Some days, I feel as though I can multitask like a champion; I have my visual supports ready for one child and extension maths activities ready for another, plus I have replied to 20 emails before 8.00am. Other days are harder, I find myself without enough energy to get out of my pyjamas, make a healthy breakfast or wrangle the remote control out of my child’s hand. But, do you know what? I am learning to roll with days like these. By rolling with the natural rhythm of these trickier days, I have learnt that the opportunities for learning, engagement and positive experiences present themselves at the most unexpected times. When they do, I actually find myself feeling simultaneously elated and relieved.
If I can offer any parents any advice during the lockdown it would be to narrow down the goals and expectations that you’re placing on yourself and your children. During this major shift in the way that we are going about our days, our children are looking to us for support, praise, adoration, information, guidance, positive feedback and largely patience and most importantly, love. If you stop and think about how and when we can offer our children these attributes while simultaneously juggling working from home, sibling interactions, and your own stress and frustrations, you will likely come to the conclusion that you can’t operate like that all day, every day. However, there is a decent chance that if you put serious planning, effort and consideration into 2 or 3 meaningful interactions, home school lessons, exercise sessions, or for those parents of children with a disability, it may be implementing a strategy suggested by your child’s allied health team, you may surprise yourself with the glee and satisfaction that comes from doing a few things very well. This is opposed to seeing the whole day through a dull, grey and overwhelmed lens. This article is not implying that you aren’t going to feel overwhelmed, even the easiest days as a parent have moments of stress and angst. But, you may find yourself relieved to be able to swap that dull and grey lens out for a fresh, colourful and energetic lens during those targeted moments of your day.
My heart goes out to all parents, parenting is not an easy gig when we have regular access to our social, emotional or intellectual outlets. Hang in there, and please believe me when I tell you that you’ve got this!!!