We know that many in the LH community are struggling at this time, for a myriad of reasons. Home-schooling seems to be one challenge that it particularly tough, especially for those households where the adults are juggling work and home-schooling. So we invited a mum and friend of Lois Hazel Hana O’Neil to share her experiences on how she’s coping with home-schooling.
Hello! My name is Hana and I have a small home business that I work part-time in. I live with my husband Ben who works for the defence force in the RAAF. We also have a 3yr old daughter named Aurelia and a beautiful tortoiseshell cat named River.
I am thankful that both Ben and I are able to continue working from home at this time but I have noticed a decrease in my sales due to the amount of people losing their jobs, everyone seems to be cutting back on spending. Luckily, we are able to survive on reduced income and we’re enjoying the extra time we can spend as a family with Aurelia. Although I’m not going to lie – some days are tougher than others.
With a toddler, it can be very tough keeping them entertained inside the house all day, every day and unfortunately, they have such short attention spans, activities only last about 20 minutes!
When we made the decision to stay home and self-isolate, I pulled out the white board and created a rough routine that went like this:
Wake up; breakfast & TV
Bath, Book, Bed
We then found and an old cardboard box which we chopped up into small cards. On each card we drew activities like colouring in, build a fort, dress ups, bake a cake, watch a movie, nature crafts etc.
This way Aurelia could choose them visually. I had some old stick-on magnets, which I popped on the back of each card, and now when we wake up, Aurelia gets to choose which 4 activities she wants to do for the day.
It’s great because it makes her feel like she has choice and control in her day, whilst ensuring there’s enough on the board to fill up the hours until bedtime. We also managed to brainstorm approximately 35 activities, some of them are:
With Ben home, we alternate the activities between us, he might run the mornings activities or take her out on a bike ride with our kids bike trailer, and then I take over for the afternoon. This ensures both Ben and I get some alone time too which is absolutely crucial during times like this.
The other factor to consider when you have kids is how to shield and protect them from what’s going on, while also being honest with them in a way they understand (depending on the age of the child). We’ve been very persistent with hand washing recently, and a few nights ago Aurelia when sneezed in bed she began crying hysterically, asking for us to come and help wash her hands because “people are getting sick”. That was a pretty scary moment seeing that it’s affecting her too. It can be easy to think they are too young to understand what’s going on, but I think they pick up on our emotions and the general vibe way more than we give kids credit for.
To combat this we restrict the news to only when she’s in bed and can’t see it, and letting her know she’s safe, we’re safe and that it won’t be like this forever.
Another tip for isolating with kids is to make sure you go outside at least once every day. If you have a backyard, make sure one of the daily activities is based out there (rain, hail or shine!) so they can run around and let off some steam. Sunshine will help them sleep better and getting everyone’s feet on the ground will keep you all centred and grounded.
I’m also finding it really important to make time to take care of myself. If I run myself down and don’t take the time to nurture my body, mind and soul, I won’t have the energy to give to Aurelia. So I’ve developed a two-part self-care routine. Firstly, I’ve given myself the challenge of using up all my beauty products. This means I’ve cleaned out the cupboards, and am pampering myself with face masks, beauty creams, wearing long lost lipsticks, spritzing perfume everywhere – you get the gist. It feels frivolous, but also feels really good to allow myself time to pamper myself, while also using all my old products up. This is also a good opportunity to do a clean out, Marie Kondo-style. If I try that old lipstick and remember why I never wear it, then I know not to get it again and once it’s done, it’s done.
Secondly, at night time, I have been binge watching a new series (Nashville) and actively enjoying it rather than feeling guilty. Ben is doing the same with his PlayStation, which I haven’t seen him play in the past 3 years, yet now he’s on it daily and that is totally OK with me. We all need a little escape, and something to take our minds off everything that’s going on.
Throughout this time we just need to remind ourselves daily to be kind to ourselves – there is no perfect way to homeschool, to parent, to work from home, to use this time. Do what’s right for you and your family, and if you need it don’t be afraid to reach out for help.