When I wrote my last blog, we were at the beginning of a week where information about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic was gathering pace, but schools were still very much open for business as usual, and we didn't have any particular restrictions in place - in fact, I think most advice was around hand washing and self-isolating in case of having a cough or a fever. Fast forward a week and a half, and schools are closed to most, restaurants, cafes and shops other than supermarkets (in the main) are closed and our freedom of movement is restricted to one form of exercise out and about per day and travelling only to shops, pharmacies etc. for essentials. Deaths are mounting up, our wonderful NHS is feeling the strain, and we are in a serious situation. As an aside, wanted to add how amazing it was to hear the support for our amazing NHS workers last night in the surrounding neighbourhood, and to be a part of that (got quite emotional).
Anyway, we're into Day 5 of no school here at Spillane HQ, and everyone is still very much adjusting to a new normal. On Day 1, Mr S announced that he'd been put down as a key worker which put pay to any idea I had when I first wrote my plan for how we might manage each day, by tag teaming supervising and entertaining the children while we both take it in turns to get a bit of work done. The reality is that Mr S clocks in for work at 7.30am, gets the kids breakfast (I work on laptop in bed until taking over just before 9am) and then sits on conference calls and does development work until 4.00pm or beyond (if particularly urgent work needed), just breaking for lunch, while I plan out the kids' activities, look after them and try to squeeze an hour or two of business work in if I'm lucky. When he clocks off I disappear into the office to grab another precious bit of time to check and respond to emails before dinner. We are both shattered at the end of the day - the days are full-on for both of us in different ways.
What I've learned in the past few days:
Trying to run a business with 2 children at home all day every day who require a huge amount of structure, routine and supervision IS as hard as I thought it would be (possibly a tad harder, if I'm honest).
While I knew my kids' behaviour would regress in direct response to their feelings around our new situation, I hadn't banked on just how much, and how emotionally and mentally draining that would be.
My kids cope well with mornings (so we've kept the plan more or less as was and they know what's coming next now) but struggle more with afternoons (this mirrors school).
Once a teacher always a teacher (I'm a qualified primary school teacher, but left the classroom a number of years ago).
I am still good with not trying to replicate the school day and the fact the kids are managing around 2-3 hours (on a good day) of 'learning' (which comes in many shapes or forms!) and exercise in pockets throughout the day is pretty amazing all things considered - provided I'm directing and supervising they are able to engage really well.
The snack shop (kids choose snacks from menu and 'purchase' them) is a real winner!
I'm good at telling other people to lower their expectations and be kind to themselves but I need to keep checking in on myself a bit more and taking my own advice.
The kids need time apart - they have an incredibly intense bond which can lead to them triggering one another continuously if one or the other becomes particularly dysregulated.
Even the dog needs some peace and quiet and by the evening is absolutely sparked out!
There are going to be ups and downs in the coming weeks and we just have to ride those waves and be kind to ourselves.
I need to find a way to incorporate some decent self-care (this is probably the most important, and I need to move it up the list!).
Not everyone's family will need so much structure, but ours absolutely does right now.
I've tweaked our plan (see visual) and come up with a few more resources around it , following a really difficult Day 3 (did anyone else really struggle with that first Wednesday?). Creating some more structure (but within that, a suite of activities to choose from so the children feel they have some control over their free time) to help with regulation is key to getting any work done. I've also roped the family in to do some sessions (e.g. learn a song with Grandma on FaceTime, play Hangman with the other grandparents on Skype, play 'name the flags' via Whatsapp video with Uncle Jeremy (who is handily a tutor)) which is a nice way for us all to be connected, for family to feel involved and for me to grab a cup of tea!
Now to start thinking about a weekend structure and how we might replicate some of what we all normally do on a Saturday and Sunday so it feels like a weekend somehow, incorporating some self-care...
What tweaks have you made to your initial home day plans? How are you adjusting to this strange situation we find ourselves in?
If you'd like a free pdf copy of the above plan, please do drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I've also created a dropbox folder with a document outlining useful links and a few fun activity worksheets suitable for families with children aged 7-11 - again (I just had to organise some of the brilliant resources I'd come across into a single space!), if you would like a link for free access, please email me.
#planning #regulation #coronavirus #education #family