Part Two: Surviving the Pandemic with Small Children
The pandemic is causing a lot of disruption to our everyday lives. For those of us that have
small children, the day can become unmanageable and extremely tiring. You’re not alone,
many of us are trying to juggle different roles to stay afloat. Remember, this isn’t going to
last forever, but for now we have to survive it and do the best we can. Our children also need
to learn that things are different for a while and they will have to adapt to their changing
circumstances. You are not a superhero and you can’t do everything. There are still the same
hours in the day as there were before, and you will have to make a priority list. Some things
that you might like to get done won’t be getting done and that’s ok, as long as your priorities
are being met but do find time for yourself too, just ten minutes a day can be of benefit.
Don’t feel guilty or that you are letting people/your children down. The country is in a crisis
and lots of people are struggling emotionally and practically to cope with it. We must keep a
sense of ourselves despite having to do things we may not have done before, by learning and
being adaptable. Don’t be fooled by social media and posts from people who seem to be
doing really well and posting great pictures of great things achieved. This is not the reality;
the reality is that most people are struggling.
You are probably not a teacher if you are home schooling. To qualify as a teacher takes
years of study. Don’t try to meet teaching standards, identify where your skills lie and don’t
set yourself up to fail. Your children are always learning from you, you are teaching them life
skills all of the time. If you are not used to having your children around all day this can be
challenging but you have to remain the parent, not the teacher. Don’t expect to teach for a
full day, this is hard for anyone and unlikely to be a great experience for either of you. Plan
what you can achieve together and make the best of it. If things get heated then don’t keep
pushing it, take a break and try and return to it later. If you can’t do it then don’t, the
children will get help later to catch up. There are millions of families who are struggling so
don’t feel guilty.
Ask for Help
Often people will try and support each other where they can give you a break. You might
have siblings that can help each other, family members, absent parents or friends that can
help over video calls from wherever they are in the world. Asking for help builds resilience
and your children will learn that you can’t do everything. They also need to feel confident in
asking and taking the help of others when they need it.
Fun time in Home Schooling
Learning needs to continue to keep their brains active for when they return to school.
Remember many children will return to school having missed a lot, and this will vary so the
important thing is to keep their brains engaged.
Try to make home schooling fun. Do as much as you can from what the school sends out to
you and when you run out of steam do some fun learning. You can do things like; make
playdough (recipes on the internet), colouring competitions, learn a dance from your child’s
favourite pop group (this counts as PE). Encourage them to make a show or play, you can
use dressing up. There is plate painting, card making and lots of creative activities you can
do probably from things you already have from home. Teach the dog a new trick, get the
children to teach you something. Play schools and let them be the teacher with the work
that school sends out.
Outdoor learning is also important. You can make a list of things to see on a walk and tick
them off. Animals, trees, flowers, buildings. There are apps you can get on your phone to
tell you what a particular leaf, flower or dog is by photographing it. Encourage them to be
Make a hopscotch on the drive or an obstacle course in the garden with toys, this all counts
as PE. You can draw chalk circles on the garden wall for ball practice. Ask your parents or
grandparents what they did before technology when they used to make up their own
Get the children involved with cooking. I know it might take longer but it’s keeping their
brains working and learning. Talk about it while you are doing it, what’s good for you, what
is not. Where ingredients come from and how we grow/produce them. This is all easy
information for you to find on the internet, you don’t need to be an expert. If they get fed
up, ask them to make place cards for the table or make a table cover out of decorators
lining paper (really cheap). Colour a bit in every day.
Don’t get huge tasks out if the children are not likely to engage. A little paint or a few
colours, we know how quickly they change their minds but if they do, don’t put it away
straight away, children often come back to things and get upset if it’s gone. Their
concentration is developing.
Keep a routine as much as possible. Get up at the same time every weekday and let the
children know that the routine is how we start the day. When you start to slack then the day
can run away with you. Separate out the day into increments of time, morning, afternoon
and evening and time for breaks in between to allow the children to experience the day
moving on. We exercise/learn in the morning and play/read in the afternoon for example. If
the routine gets disrupted, then explain why the change is going to happen so it’s not
Remember your downtime is very important. Your children need to learn that you need
mini breaks in the day just as they do. If you can’t do this by yourself then do something
relaxing together, reading, listening to music, watching a tv programme or just lying
together singing songs, making up stories or snoozing. You might do this in say half an hour
time slots or it might be ten-minute slots, either way get the time in and recharge the
Take care and keep safe