Navigating through uncharted waters during this stressful time is very overwhelming for many of us and leads to anxiety and sleeplessness. Keep in mind that this is new territory for teachers, parents and our children. Find peace in knowing that we are all in the same boat. Steer your ship into calmness when there is a storm and choose the rules of your ship together as a family.
There is structure and routine at school, and children arrive knowing what lessons they have each day and are ready to engage in the wonder of their learning experience. During term time, their day starts with their usual morning routine. They make you coffee and bring you breakfast in bed, pack your lunch and rush you because they are ready and waiting in the car. Imagine how wonderful that would be! My point is, there is routine and the children learn what is expected of them each morning, from the time they wake up until the time they arrive at school. During lockdown, the routine that has always worked has dwindled into the uncertainty of what the day entails. There are no bells or alarms to assist with time management. It is difficult for the kids to shift their mind-set and realise that home is now school. There are so many toys to play with and their play station calls out hourly.
- Pre-primary and Primary learners – Create a visual timetable.
There are editable, free examples available. Below is an example.
The pictures will cue what happens next. Include the usual morning routine pictures( dressing, breakfast, teeth etc.) and add the new pictures ,such as a laptop or IPad for their online morning greeting with their teacher, maybe a see saw logo when it’s time to complete those activities etc. It is important to include a family time, exercise or outdoor activity and quiet time picture. You need your time to do work, cook and clean so add that in so they know you are busy during those times.
- Senior and College Phase learners – Formulate a timetable with your children. They will have some idea of their workload and limits of sustained concentration. Help them schedule in suitable breaks and down time. Do not forget to add in their chores, responsibilities, and outdoor activities.
There is an endless amount of work to do. Cleaning, cooking, working and now you have to assist the teachers in teaching your children. It is all very overwhelming and results in stress, anxiety and worst of all GUILT! It is important to realise that when you scream at your child because they asked you to play while you are trying to reply to the 200 emails sitting in your inbox, you are not alone. So many parents are finding this a challenging time. This epidemic has caused stress in every family; it may just be packaged differently.
- Reach out for help – When you feel anxious or overwhelmed reach out for help or an ear to listen.
- Positive mind-set – Remind yourself of the positive elements of your situation. You are safe in your home with your family. Your kids will love knowing you are close by. The forced family time builds strong connections and opens up pathways of communication. You are able to give your child individualised attention during the ‘School day’, which is invaluable. So many parents, although really struggling, are so grateful to understand their child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Organisation and Planning- Do your best to manage your time and plan each day to ensure you can complete your daily-required tasks.
- Mindfulness- Be mindful of your emotions and know your limits. When you feel the symptoms of your different emotions manifesting, such as a warm sensation in your cheeks due to anger or frustration, remove yourself from the situation and breathe. That is a good time to signal to your partner, if they are available, to step in. You can only do what you can do!
- Focus on one thing at a time- It is importance to realise that it is acceptable for you to lose control and act irrationally. It is impossible for each day to run smoothly. Your children will be more difficult on days and it is not the end of the world if your house is upside down. Take a step back, breathe and focus on one task at a time. You may need to lower your expectations to ensure you and your family are able to achieve realistic goals.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle- These habits are essential in keeping our bodies and minds, strong and equipped to deal with our daily challenges. This will improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise will reduce stress and improve cognitive function. The endorphins released during exercise will make you feel good and assist in creating a positive mind-set.
This experience has certainly brought about many challenges and feelings of anxiety and stress. We are all in this together and need to reach out and support one another in our learning community. Feelings of guilt and failure will soon reduce as you listen to others experiencing the same feelings. Crawford North Coast is a family who looks after every masterpiece under its roof, including the parents. We are here to support you and your children during this time. Remember your best is good enough!
“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them: ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”
Pick up your bucket, empty the unwanted water and set sail into the uncharted seas of online teaching. Good Luck, you know how to reach us.
Written by: Carla Kuhlmey Crawford Preparatory North Coast