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Staying sane while juggling home learning

With new lockdowns and school closures imminent, the prospect of juggling work, home, family and education is looming. Before you tear your hair out with stress and cry tears of dread, have a read of our tips for managing the challenges of lockdown combined with home learning.

Hopefully we can help you feel a bit better equipped to get through the next few difficult weeks.

CLICK HERE also for our Lockdown survival / ideas / sanity savers for Wollongong Illawarra residents and families!

Look after no 1
As parents we have to manage the household and keep family life ticking over alongside possibly working from home and keeping cooped up kids from going stir crazy stuck at home. This is demanding and draws heavily on parental resources, making it so much more important that you look after yourselves and carve out some time to do whatever it is that keeps you balanced, whether that is a hobby, exercise, therapy or simply enjoying a quiet coffee while reading. Keeping yourself well and in balance mentally is key to maintaining a positive attitude.

Establish routine
Managing expectations is half the battle when it comes to family harmony in this situation. Consider the needs of all the members of the family and set up a schedule accordingly. Be flexible and don’t stress if you need to tweak it as you go along. Parents may find it useful to get up early and work for an hour or two before the kids begin lessons, then you could carve up the rest of the day into chunks of time depending on who needs to work, who needs parental help, how much school work is needed. Definitely block out times for exercise and draw up a roster for older children to help out with chores. Planning meals ahead is a great sanity saver, too.

Listen to the experts
When it comes to home learning, your children’s teachers are the first port of call for advice. They can help you with an idea of how much time your children should try to devote to school work each day, and the key learning goals they need to aim for. Hopefully they will also provide resources and regular support along the way, or perhaps even some virtual lessons. When it comes to work, noone is superhuman, and employers should understand the unique set of challenges faced by any family under these exceptional circumstances. If you are struggling, reaching out for help is the only way to fix it.

Be realistic
Sure – we’d all love to be that Instagram parent who breezes through lockdown with placid kids, scenic walks and a perfect smile even after cooking and cleaning up for the 17th time in a week. But for those of us who live in the real world, there is simply too much juggling going on. When faced with homeschooling on top of working from home and keeping the household fed and cleaned, its clear that the vast majority of us will find there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Recognise that it can’t all be perfect all of the time, and work out where you can cut back. Are there some aspects of school work that can be done away from the desk? Eg maths while following a recipe, science when out on a walk, art when playing a creative game?

Let tech take the strain
After so many months of this new pandemic-induced normality, there are a ton of excellent resources online to help your child with their home learning. Don’t hesitate to trust your child’s times tables practice to a reputable quiz website, or to find an excellent audiobook for them when the reading slot turns into a snack and a cuddle. Many of the world’s best museums, galleries and attractions are still open for virtual visits, making a brilliant field trip to break up the week. Even in their downtime, kids are often happy (and less demanding) with a decent movie or TV show to watch. Really, now is not the time to be beating yourselves up about a bit of extra screen time. If it enables adults to do their zoom meetings in peace or stops sibling squabbles while you are trying to draft an important email, get the kids in front of a screen and don’t feel bad about it.

Try not to neglect the fun factor
It may not feel like special family time when you have a hundred things to do for work while simultaneously helping older kids with school work, entertaining toddlers, providing three meals a day and keeping on top of the washing, but within all that chaos is a unique time which many children are likely to remember forever. It isn’t always possible to take some time out of your day, but when it is, try to make it fun and engaging for everyone so there are some lasting positive memories for the whole family. Hopefully it’s the extra face to face time with parents and the whole family being together for an extended period that your kids will remember, even if us grown ups may not look back on these strange times so fondly.

Every cloud…
There are tons of ways you and your children can benefit from this period. Those of us who aren’t usually very organised may suddenly find that we have to step up to the plate and become super efficient and time management and prioritising – both valuable and transferable skills. Obviously this period of school closures will be challenging in many respects but when you or your children rise to the challenges and overcome them it is character building and a good life lesson. Add in the skills they will learn from helping out around the house, being creative with limited resources and adapting their learning style, and when this current lockdown is over hopefully they will go back to school with lots of new experiences under their belt and a new confidence and resilience to carry them forward.

CLICK HERE also for our Lockdown survival / ideas / sanity savers for Wollongong Illawarra residents and families!

Good luck to all Illawarra parents and kids for the next few weeks. We can do this!

You can also check out our Family Support pages under our online Local Directory HERE for local counselling and mental health support practitioners (considered ‘essential services’ at this time and are operating within COVID/NSW Govt Approved regulations) who may be able to assist if you would like further help after reading this article.