We've been in lock down since last Friday. Today I want to share some tips and thoughts to help you if you're facing lock down with kids. It's not as bad as it sounds, I promise you!
Last week was a strange week here in Spain. On Wednesday we were told all interschool activities would be cancelled. On Thursday they announce that schools here in Catalunya would be closed the following day.
Friday was our first day of no school but we were allowed out to do other things. I went to my Tai Chi class.
On Saturday the central Spanish government announced a state of emergency. We're no longer allowed out of our houses except to walk dogs, buy foods and for emergencies.
(On a side note, I don't understand why people have the idea that dogs need walking more than humans!)
It's a big difference in our lives. We're not used to having 4 kids stuck at home. And the kids aren't used to having to do homework and live in a confined space. (We're lucky that we have a large house but not being allowed out is tough on them.)
Allow yourself some adjustment time. Our first day felt a bit like a disaster. Until I realised it was a big difference for everyone and we just needed to find our feed and establish a few rules and routines.
I've tried to keep a similar structure to our day. We get up (a bit later than normal) breakfast and get dressed. Then we "walk" to school. In reality we walk around the garden. This may sound odd but it's a good way for our bodies to get some light, do some exercise and start the "school day".
They start with half an hour of read because that's what they do at school.
We spend the mornings doing "educational activities". The older children have some homework (but not much). All of them are allowed an hour of "educational screen time". The rest of the morning they can do their homework and educational activities. They're allowed to play educational games such as "junior scrabble" and "triominoes".
I've also got the older children listening to the younger ones read.
The reality is they get more screen time than normal. And life is more chaotic but we're still establishing our new routine.
I've noticed that it's really easy to get addicted to watching the headlines. I know it's important to keep up with what's going on, but bombarding ourselves with negative thoughts isn't helping.
I've restricted myself to reading the news once a day.
Social media is another area to be careful of. It can be a great place to make connections and find support. But it can also sap our energy, especially if we find ourselves connecting with other people who are stressed and worried.
I've also restricted my social media use!
It's a bit of a challenge to keep moving when you're locked up at home but it's really important. Movement makes us feel better!
We have been doing 7 minute workouts. (There are loads of apps available.) I've been doing yoga. (Again, there are loads of apps. "Cosmic Kids" is a great Youtube channel for kid's yoga.)
Simple things like running up and down the stairs. Or round and round the garden.
I consider myself a relatively positive person but have definitely noticed more "back ground stress". To stop it from spiralling out of control, I'm doing more meditation.
I like to think of meditation as "brain relaxation".
If you haven't done any before, "insight timer" is a great free app with "walk through meditations".
If you're a seasoned meditator, keep up the good work!
After lunch, we make sure we have a fun family activity. Great for group bonding as well as just to let off a bit of steam.
We've played rounders (well, a version of rounders!). Also hide and seek and we're planning a "nerf gun war". Fun games that everyone enjoys.
Keep an eye out on how you're feeling. My gauge is when I start snapping at my kids. I know when I snap my stress levels are high and I need to do something differently. (That might be "rethink how the routine is going", "rethink what I'm trying to do", "have a break".)
You know yourselves. What signs do you show when you're feeling under pressure? And what can you do about it?
It's easy to get stuck in stress but it's also easy to look around and count our blessings. I'm so grateful that my family are safe, that we have enough food, that we have each other.
It's at time like this that we can see the world with fresh eyes.
I'm grateful for a little patch of grass. I'm grateful that my husband is smiling at me. I'm grateful for those precious moments when my kids smile, laugh and cuddle (even though at times they drive me crazy!)
Have a think about what's important to you right now.
I've decided that getting dressed and looking like I normally do is important to me. (I don't like hanging around in my PJs. But you might and that's fine!)
I've decided that nagging my kids about putting shoes on their feet isn't important right now. If they chose to take them off, that's up to them. (I've realised that I could nag them about 50 million different things and being kind and respectful to each other during stressful times is more important than socks!)
It's tempting to give into emotional eating and drinking. Please don't my friends!
Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.