Don't Let Your Fears Be Your Children's Fears

The last few months have been a roller-coaster ride for most parents. I think it is safe to say that it took some time getting used to all the chaos.   Having said that, we have successfully learned to embrace our new way of living.  

During the Covid-19 Lock-down I had the opportunity to work from home, and I truly believe this made me a better parent. It certainly helped me ease the burden of  “working Mom guilt” syndrome.  Even though I feel like I am working much harder, I am much more productive in my career and running a household. I feel present and in the moment with my family on a daily basis. 

 None of this came without lessons learned, and my main goal has always been to ensure that both my boys could still end 2020 with a successful school year.  

These are some of the steps we took:

 Have a routine – During the first few weeks of lock-down our family routine disappeared as we tried to find a balance with the sudden change that was upon us.  After three weeks, we decided that it is imperative to bring routines back into our lives. This included structure in our boy’s school day which meant that certain hours were dedicated to school work before any leisure time. This was a non-negotiable. 

Health and exercise – Many of you will agree that it has been a struggle to stay fit and healthy during this time. Our kids don’t have access to their extra murals and winter sports and running around at break times with friends came to a stop.  We introduced a 3 day exercise routine, which we made part of their daily school schedule. 

Plan your day – As a working parent, managing your own meetings and work deadlines  as well as your children’s home-schooling calendar can become quite overwhelming.  I found that planning every evening for the next day made my kids more relaxed and made me feel more in control of my day.

Learn to say no and ask for help - I went through a stage where I just felt overwhelmed.  Understandably everyone offered online lessons, programs and extra murals.  We had to prioritize and say no to some of the offerings purely to manage our time better.  We did what worked for our family and our schedule.  On a few occasions it was nearly impossible to manage the school classes with our work schedules, but I learned that there was nothing wrong with asking for help from the teachers. 

You have a opportunity to observe, use it – I am grateful that I have had the opportunity and time to observe my kids and through this I managed to identify where my children needed a bit of extra support when it came to their learning and their emotional wellbeing. I felt proud when I saw improvements in their learning abilities, which I probably would not have picked  up under normal circumstances. 

They are going to fall behind in their schoolwork  make peace with it – As much as I had tried to put processes in place, we missed a few tasks and deadlines and it was o.k.  Nothing is more important than having a happy and content child and knowing that they are doing their best and acknowledging that they are also under pressure. As I said in my previous blog, our kids are used to their home being their safe environment, the place where they have fun and this has now become their school environment too, its tough on them. 

 Speak to your kids and manage anxiety – As they say, the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. We did not shy away from the Covid-19 topic. The risks our children will face when they go back to school, and our eventual return to work. The impact the virus had on the economy and people’s daily lives. It was important to make sure that they understand how to protect themselves and ask questions about the virus that makes them anxious. 

Have FUN – For a few weeks we only focused on keeping our heads above water with the new way of living that we forgot to have fun.   I also realized that you don’t have to spend money to have quality time with your children. My children missed seeing their cousins, their grandparents and their friends.  We arranged virtual play dates, weekly zoom calls with the family, had picnics in the garden, planted some new flowers, played board games that had been gathering dust in the cupboards for years and movie nights.  I finally grasped the concept of being in the moment.  Kids want our time and, attention and not much more. 

Reopening of the schools

As we were finding our balance and streamlined the way we worked, they announced the phased approach to reopening the schools.   Again, it felt as if my world was turned upside down and all I felt was fear. I was overwhelmed with emotions, and my initial response was retaliating against my kids returning to school and I wanted to continue to work from home with them.  

After much consideration and consultation from family, friends and professionals, I came to the realization that we cannot continue to live in a bubble, we will have to co-exist with Covid-19 for a long time to come.  The best thing I could do for my children is to prepare them for the next phase of their journey that they are about to face and make sure that they are O.K with the steps we have to take as a family. 

 Understand your children’s fears and anxiety - It was important to unpack and understand where our children’s mindsets are at, what they were saying and give them a sense of comfort that we cannot stop living, but we can put precautions in place to make it safer for all of us.  

Consult the schools - In order for us to give our children a sense of comfort, we communicated with the schools to understand what processes they have put in place to ensure the safety of our children. 

 Talk them through their arrival process and how things will change – We spent days preparing our children for the process they will go through when they arrive at school. We found that it was important to paint a clear picture of the new reality they are about to face, especially for our younger son. Play time will no longer be the same, no physical contact will be allowed, and he  always has to wear a mask . He also has to learn that when he touches things, he needs to ensure that his hands are washed and sanitized immediately. It is a big responsibility they have to take on, but important for them to understand what every action meant.  

Don’t let your fears be your children’s fears – My kids attended day 1 successfully at school.  Instead of fear, they were excited, today was a big adventure. They saw their friends face to face for the first time in two months. The fact that there is a different routine for playtime and study time is a new learning for them.  Wearing face-masks was no longer a concern, as it is the norm and everyone wears them!  Queuing to get sanitized has become something they get excited about. 

I came to the realization that we should not let our fears and emotions rub off on our children.  Educate them enough to understand the risks but let them explore and grow into their own amazing way. 

Good luck to all  parents with your back to school journey! 

Take care and stay safe

Amelia 

My views are my own

 

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