Brought to you by Bupa Global
Ever since our citywide school closures, many parents are finding themselves juggling working from home with childcare and home learning. While staying at home is crucial to controlling the coronavirus pandemic, this does make things a bit more difficult for many families. Penny Vera, head of governance, quality and risk at Bupa UK, has asked a range of parents for advice on how to cope.
Vera has three children and has been working from home, but decided to focus on the positives of the situation. Under normal working circumstances, Vera and her husband often don’t eat together in the week, only during weekends, like a lot of other couples who work full-time. So now that they are working from home, the pair are making a special effort to dine together as a family every night, engaging in silly talk—perhaps followed by a cheeky dessert—to brighten up the day. Here are snippets of advice from other parents in the same boat.
Alice is the mother of two children, who are five and two. Here is her top tip:
“Try to separate between homeschooling or playing with your children, and your work. This is easier said than done, but trying to do both at once will likely end up stressful, and your children will pick up on this. Remember, they will also be feeling frustrated and unsure in their own way and will sense the changes that are happening. I think the more focus and praise you can give them will ultimately make everyone feel better.”
Marcella has a six- and an eight-year-old at home. She stresses the importance of self-care:
“While you might feel there is very little time in the day for exercise, do try and build in a regular time to do this, as it will help to feel more positive and keeps you focused when working. It’s important to build in ‘you time’ as well, to switch off and have a bit of time to yourself, even if it’s just for half an hour in the evenings. This helps me stay on top of everything, including work.”
Aarathi has an eleven-year-old daughter and a younger son. She has noticed her daughter missing the social side of school, and has looked to digital communication as an alternative:
“My daughter did feel a bit sad, listening to the news and having our holiday cancelled. She misses her friends, so they’ve now created a small Facetime group to go over homework struggles together. This has made her a bit happier in the day as she still gets to see her friends.
“I myself am also on a few school WhatsApp groups, so I can share tips and jokes, and let my frustrations out with other parents in the same situation.”
Lauren is a primary school teacher, and agrees that parents shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves:
“Try to enjoy this extra time that you get to spend with your children, and don't put too much pressure on yourself to homeschool them. This is not your job, and no one expects you to do this as you are not trained teachers!
“This is why we call it home learning: because all that families can do is learn as best they can in this uncertain time, using some of the work provided by your child’s school. As teachers, we are fully prepared to fill in any gaps when schools reopen, so don't sweat the small stuff and just enjoy whatever learning you can do together.”
If your kids keep asking for snacks, offer them healthy options such as vegetable sticks and hummus or fresh pieces of fruit, which will also go towards their five-a-day.
While we can’t go out to zoos, some zoos are bringing their animals to our homes instead! An example is Edinburgh Zoo, which is offering streaming videos of their pandas and penguins for your entertainment.
If you usually have help or regular visits from grandparents who you can’t see at the moment, why not have them set up regular video calls with your children? They can bond with their grandkids, read them stories, or play with them online. More importantly, this frees you up some valuable time for your Zoom meeting or even just a breather!
There are plenty of options for creative activities out there, so keep looking because we all know that an entertained child is one that will keep out of your hair. The Scout Association has created a fantastic series of activity ideas to keep kids learning new skills, called ‘The Great Indoors’. No reason for the little ones to stop being adventurous just because they’re stuck at home!