So we are now in the 4th week of confinement and for many, the toll is starting to show: the demands of the children, the meal prep cycle that always comes around again too quickly, the never ending stream of videos workouts and self-help tutorials, and the sinking feeling that you never have a minute spare… now even more so than before! We give you 5 tips to stay calm during the coming weeks (or almost!).
The lockdown has been in place since March 23rd and it has turned our normal daily lives upside down, notably limiting outings with the small ones to brief trips within a tight radius around our homes. No trips to the supermarket without donning a full outfit of protective gear, no relaxing in this lovely weather in the park. Whether you are at home alone with your kid(s) or have a partner by your side, staying at home in a confined space all day can be very stressful, especially when you are also expected to work from home. “For many parents, being able to take time for themselves is a real challenge during this period,” observes Charlotte Ducharme, founder of the Coolparentsmakehappykids.com site, who gives us her wise advice on being a Zen parent.
Here are some top tips for getting through the coming few weeks.
1. Organize remote games with grandparents and relatives
The many apps (WhatsApp, Zoom, Houseparty, etc.) that allow you to meet virtually, also lend themselves to organizing activities with kids. Why not set up a daily meeting with the grandparents for an hour? (If possible, with other family members too). While your children play battleships or are enthralled by grandma or grandpa reading them a story, you can take 5 to listen to music, dream in your bath or finally finish the chapter of your novel.
2. Don’t wait to be exhausted
This situation is not normal so stop trying to make everything normal. “Sometimes we try to do too much, especially when you’re around the clock with your kids. So, when you explode, it can be a bigger reaction than you would normally have,” explains Charlotte Ducharme. To avoid these extreme situations, she advises to explain how you feel as soon as you feel anxious, by using for example a soft toy or a puppet which will scold the children with a big voice and funny expressions, without aggressiveness.
3. Distribution of tasks
During this difficult period, household chores must be divided equally between the parents and where appropriate the children. To avoid frustration, we must also plan to do less: so what if the house is not impeccably tidy and clean, in the grand scheme of things it does not really matter… Take the time to introduce the kids to joining in with some chores! To help, why not make a chart or a list and give them stars or stickers each day leading up to a weekend treat!
4. Planning the energy release!
Restriction of movement makes it more difficult to organize physical activities where we would normally get rid of built up energy, but there are solutions. “Establish rituals: a pillow fight or a slide on the sofa for an hour each day, followed by some reading to relieve the excitement with a calmer but equally fun activity” explains Charlotte Ducharme who believes the parents laughing with the kids during this hour of physical release, is beneficial for everyone.
5. Make everyday special!
One of the biggest challenges with confinement is the monotony of the passing days and every day looking like and feeling the same. To help time pass by quicker, using your imagination is the best solution: have a picnic in the living room or transform the beds into cabins … Children love it when adults give free reign to their imagination and shift to their level, by building a common imaginary world.
And remember, the lockdown will end but our lives will change forever. We recently came across an imaginary tale of an old man talking to his grandson in 2095 about the 2020 lockdown and what he remembered. His memory was of a magical time where his parents had time to spend with him at home, where they played games and each night a new and exciting meal was served, where housework and structure became a bit blurred and he went to bed each night planning his next day’s adventure.