Who would have ever imagined being locked down in their houses for 21 days? As I am writing this blog post, we just completed the sixth day of lockdown in South Africa.
And as a family of 4, we are actually still ok. I heard someone compare the lockdown is starting the long road when going on holiday. When journey starts the air is filled with excitement and everyone is happy and in good spirit. But as time passes this situation changes. The children become bored, frustration levels rise and the last hour before you reach your destination seems to last forever. As I said, 6 days gone and hopefully just 15 to go!
For most people, this lockdown has brought financial worries, challenges, stress and uncertainty. If you are a parent I think you will agree with me that being stuck at home with small children for 21 days is daunting! We are so used to being busy that it is strange to slow down and just be at home. Before this started I was anxious over how the children will cope, and how we are going to keep them busy. But I have to say I am amazed at how well Lana (4) and Phillip (6) are handling the situation. I think they are doing better than my wife and I!
I really think in 20 years’ time, Lana and Phillip will most probably look back and tell us how great the 2020 lockdown was. Not because of why the lockdown is happening, as obviously they do not understand the complexity and gravity of the situation yet. But because they get to spend this time with both mom and dad, all day every day.
And so apart from the worry and the loss, the lockdown has given me the unexpected gift of opportunity. It brought me to a platform where I can more clearly define what matters most in life. When this is over I will have a far better idea of how to allocate my time and energy. It has given me new ways to listen to and spend time with my children.
But let me get back on track, as my goal with this blog was not to get philosophical. I want to share with you a few ideas that I have used to keep us busy for the last few days. I also want to share a few links to some amazing people who have wonderful information on their pages as to what you can do with your kids during this lockdown period.
I love doing DIY tasks around the house, and suddenly I have some time on my hands. Allowing the children to help is for them the best thing ever. Before the lockdown I decided that it was time to re-paint a few rooms in the house. And what child doesn’t love painting? Of course there is a lot more to painting than the actual fun and easy part of applying the paint to the wall. Kids’ attention span and interest doesn’t last that long, but I tried to involve them in all the steps and it at least kept them busy for small periods every day. To be honest, they are in some ways more a hurdle than a help. But experiencing their excitement every morning when they wake up asking what the task is for the day makes it all worthwhile. And because I am not pressed for time it doesn’t really matter if it takes longer than it would have were I on my own.
We also try to involve them in our daily household tasks. This is as good a time as any to learn that the house does not magically clean itself. And like with the paint, it keeps them busy for a while.
I have cleared one of the garages and created an arts-and-crafts station where they can go to anytime to keep themselves busy. And doesn’t this sound like the ideal photo to put on Facebook! And here I have to say that I do not believe that it’s a parent’s job to keep their kids busy all the time. They need to find their ways and means and develop their own creativity.
What is wonderful to see is how much they have played with each other in the last week. As I am writing this blog I can hear them laughing on the other side of the house.
We have slotted in 30 minutes exercising time and running around the house has become a daily highlight for them. We have created a board where we record lap times, with the challenge for each of us to break our previous record. This activity has the added benefit of burning their excess energy!
Lastly the good old fashioned games of hide-and-seek, touchers or a monster chasing them never fails.
All of this made me realize that it actually doesn’t matter what you do with your children. The key is being present and listening to them. Create an environment where they can learn and grow and space to develop their own skills and creativity.
And luckily there are wonderful people and resources available for those days where our own ideas don’t do the trick. I want to share with you links to some of the moms which I believe will help you to keep your children busy:
I want to wish all of you best of luck for the rest of this period! As with all other things in life we cannot control the circumstances, but we can control our reaction to them. Don’t let a good lockdown go wasted!
Read more from Heinrich’s desk here