Can you believe it? The original 21 days of Lockdown has passed. Here I was 3 weeks ago thinking, wow I am going to get so much done. All the cupboards that I have been wanting to organise and sort through will be done, all the blogs I have been wanting to finish and post, can be done. I can spend proper quality time with my boys and make this memorable. Well, guess what? I have basically just been on a 3 week holiday.
I am actually quite shocked that I did so little. But that is what the next 2 weeks are for. I actually feel refreshed and motivated to tick off all the things on my To-do list.
On the weekend of 14 & 15 March we had a lazy weekend at home, little did we know this would become the new normal for a while. On that Sunday evening when the President announced that schools will be closing early and staying closed till after Easter. We decided to keep the boys home those 3 days before the school closed. So the boys and I are basically on day 38 at home. With the minor exception of me going to the shops one day before lockdown started.
Now I am a homebody, I grew up an only child with a single mother who worked every waking hour. She never took leave, so during school holidays it was me, myself and I. We had a year of homeschooling last year, so the boys kind of had a year’s preparation for lockdown. The only difference is, no playdates or outings. I have to say they have been coping a lot better than I had ever imagined. I think because they are also at an age where you can explain something like this to them, it helps a lot.
I have tried to keep them busy and have something fun or new to do every day. The week before lockdown there were so many posts on Social Media of Schedules and Routines. Last year I loved my schedules, it really helped and I was considering making a day/week planner but then I realised that this won’t work for our family. Although my eldest loves routine, my youngest can fight against it. So I opted against routine in the beginning. I decided to let them have their holiday, which is how it would have been before Lockdown.
They had just finished 2 weeks of assessments at school, it was time for holiday and laziness. For 2 and a half weeks they could do what they want, there was no routine. Towards the end of “our holiday” my youngest (Gr1) teacher sent daily challenges. Just one thing to do that day which involved math, but in such a fun way. The week before Lockdown I had gone through their old Homeschooling files and dug out some stuff that I wanted to do with them during lockdown, just to keep them fresh. I also wanted to practice handwriting with my eldest as this is his weak point. Their files were always on the dining room table. I didn’t ask them to do work for the first 2, almost 3 weeks. But when I would cook or while I was cleaning, one or sometimes both of them would end up at the table doing some of the work all on their own. There were even days when they asked if they could do work, so I would then sit with them and do some work.
The week before Easter our school started sending daily work to be done. Now it was time for routine. During normal circumstances, they are only allowed to play Xbox and watch movies on the weekends. But we have made an exception now.
As of 30 March, this has been our “routine”: Monday & Wednesday Schoolwork 90 min Xbox
Tuesday & Thursday Schoolwork Movie
Friday Schoolwork 2 Hours Xbox
Saturday & Sunday 2 Hours Xbox and/or a movie
The screentime might sound like a lot, and yes under normal circumstances it is, but being stuck at home with nowhere to go, I do not think it is too much. I have also made it very clear to them that once things go back to normal, we are back to our old rules of screentime only on weekends. So our “routine” is very simple but seems to be working well. In the afternoons we play board games, do little experiments, get creative, play Cricket or just jump on the trampoline.
I think we also need to realise there is no one size fits all. What works for my boys/family might not work for yours. It all depends on your household and what works for you. At this point screen time is my currency, my bargaining chip, punishment for bad behavior means -10min of screen time. Reward for doing extra practice work or helping with more chores than they usually do, then they earn 10min extra. It works like a charm.
Now it has not all been love, hugs and cherry blossoms, oh no. We have had massive blow outs. The boys fight with each other, we have had moments where mom and dad have been at each other. We have had moments where mom is shouting at the kids. I have heard all 3 of our neighbours have multiple arguments with their partners/kids. People who you generally do not hear off are, by the sounds of it, close to ripping each other’s heads off.
This is such a hard situation to be in. Nothing we can do, we can’t just get out, take a break from each other for a couple of hours and go for a walk. It is absolutely natural for tempers to be flaring and disagreements to happen. I do not think there is a household on planet earth that has just been pure unadulterated happiness. We all have our days where we just don’t want to do anything and everyone annoys us.
I always apologies to the boys if I have lost it. I explain why I snapped and how I am feeling, we chat and then hug it out. We have always done this. I think it just helps them understand that we all have these feelings of anger and frustration with loved ones from time to time and that it is ok. As long as we do not hurt each other, physically and verbally.
It is moments like these when I think of all the women and children who are now in lockdown with that one person that they really should not be with, an abusive partner. I can’t even imagine the hell they are going through. This is something I try to tell my kids every time they get frustrated with the situation. I try to remind them how lucky they are. They have a roof over their head, food in their tummy, toys and TV games to play, parents who love them and do not abuse them, a garden and 2 dogs to play with. So, SO much to be grateful for.
In times like these that is all, we can do. Look for that silver lining, that something positive to hold on to, to get you through it. Soon it will all be over and we will be back in the rat race. Then we will be regretting the fact that we didn’t make the most of this time together.
Tuesday, 24 March 2020, was a very sobering day for me. A simple trip to the shops for groceries turned into an emotional meltdown.
While full lockdown only stated today really, myself and my 2 boys have been at home since Monday 16 March. So we are all ready on Day 12 of Self Isolation. After a week at home with the kids, I felt I needed a bit of a break and we wanted to stock up on some staples so we wouldn’t have to go out too much during the lockdown, so I went to the shops alone.
I went to our local shops just around the corner. First, into Crazy store, I wanted to stock up on some paint and art supplies and get the kids some bubble guns. Off to Pick n Pay next. I was surprised that it wasn’t crazy busy as I thought it would be.
As I walk through the aisle getting what we need I saw numerous senior couples together, many people with their list of things to get. There was a guy who I kept running into, he had a pretty well-stocked trolley, not stockpiling, but you could see it was for the month ahead. He seemed stressed. Twice I heard him on the phone, he was checking in with someone, asking which brand of certain products and how much. By the time we got to the last aisle, the baby aisle, he now did a video call to show the wipes, on the other end was his wife and you could hear a baby in the background.
Now I saw him and many others all just doing their best to cope with this current situation we are in. It kind of went in and out. I was focused on my list and not going to close to others. The line in PNP was long and people were on top of each other, I started thinking that this may not have been the best idea. This shop is a germ incubator at this point. but I was in line and just wanted to get out ASAP.
Lastly to Woolies for a handful of things. I hade 2 incidents while in Woolies, but that is a story for next time. I do think these 2 things also impacted my mental state, but after Woolies I quickly stopped at the second-hand book shop to see if I could find some books for the boys, which I did.
Now from the book store to the exit is about 100m. As I started leaving the book store to head to the car, and weirdly I took a different route to what I would usually take, I suddenly felt very emotional. It was very unexpected, I went from looking at books to just feeling this sudden and massively overwhelming feeling of grief. I tried to hold in as best I could. I walked out and there in the first disabled parking lot sat an elderly gentleman with a mask on. I saw him and I am not sure if he saw that I was emotional, but he pulled his mask off and gave me the biggest smile. I smiled back and as I turned the corner I just couldn’t keep it in anymore, the tears just started rolling, I had to put my sunglasses on. It was this flood of emotions that came over me. At first, I couldn’t understand why I was just focused on getting to the car.
The min I got in the car I just started sobbing uncontrollably. I think the last time I cried like this was when my mom passed. I still could not quite pinpoint why but the more I think of it, the more I realised how we have all become quite Numb to situations like this.
When I was younger I wanted to save the world. I wanted to be a social worker but my mom was against it, she said it would break me, and I get why she said that. I think over the years with everything that happens in the world we all become a bit numb with regards to our empathy for others. Don’t get me wrong, we still care. I donate food and clothes to charities, I take part in fun runs and walks to raise money. But I think a lot of my empathy has been suppressed. Especially in the country we live in, where seeing poverty is a daily thing, you kind of get used to it, you almost don’t even “see” it anymore.
I remember when I was younger I would see someone on the street or a mother and child on the corner begging and I would immediately put myself in their shoes and imagine what their life would be like and I now notice that I haven’t been doing that as much lately. Is it because I became a mother and my empathy and focus shifted and it is now all aimed at my boys? Have I lost a part of me? I remember planning a fundraiser for a boy with cancer and becoming overwhelmingly emotional a couple of times. But I have realised that I was not AS invested in other’s wellbeing as I use to be.
So why did I have a meltdown at the shops? I think this is due to a lot of things. I am good at suppressing feelings and subconsciously I have been worried about my dad and half-sister. I didn’t grow up with my sister, she has lived in the UK her whole life and even though I have some contact with her, we are not super close. That doesn’t mean I do not care for her and love her. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was 6 months old. For those who do not know, CF it is an incurable life-threatening illness, mainly affecting her lungs. So she is at HIGH risk with his virus. But she has been fighting this illness her whole life, she has an AMAZING mother and grandmother, who take care of her and I know she is in absolutely amazing hands. She has been on 4 months’ self-isolation for a couple of weeks already. So even though I do worry about her, it is my father that I am worried about the most.
My dad has been in Cyrpus for a couple of months now, working there. He was suppose to fly to the UK last Friday but is now stuck in Cyprus for a month. He is 64, quite fit and healthy for his age, BUT, he is so tremendously stubborn. He doesn’t’ go to a doctor when ill and because of this, his hearing in one ear, for example, is crap because he ignored an ear infection he had. I picked up on what I think are early signs of Alzheimers when he was in SA 4 years ago and the more I try to get him to see someone and do something about it, the more he pushes back saying he is fine and doesn’t want or need help.
So I am very aware that he is not going to take this virus seriously and I am scared. If he gets sick he won’t do anything about it and that is what worries me.
I think subconsciously all of these feelings just became too much. I did notice the man shopping for his family. He was a foreign national, and I do remember thinking while in line that I feel for him. Because he has probably at one point had to deal with Xenophobia while here. He obviously doesn’t have a lot of money but he is doing his best to provide for his family. So it did touch me and I did put myself in his shoes, even if it was just for a min.
Then seeing all the elderly trying to avoid others but also getting their essentials for the next few weeks. My own worries of getting ill and passing it on to my kids, or my biggest fear (which is a daily fear, not just now) that I will die while my kids are still little. And then the tipping point was the old guy in the car. He was obviously waiting for whoever was doing his shopping for him. He seemed so happy to be out and maybe smiling at strangers was also his way of coping. But I think I imminently worried for his safety and the thought of “Would he see the end of this?” and that is what caused me to break down.
Another thing that has been on my mind are the people and especially women and children who live in abusive homes, this lockdown is going to be hell for them and they are on my mind quite a bit. What about the people who can’t afford not to work. The people who can’t afford to stock up for the next 3 weeks. The small business who will have to close down. It has suck a massive affect on so many. How will this affect my family financially? So many things going through my head.
It has taken me 3 days to write this because I have just been very emotional. So as lockdown has official start I want to post this and put it behind me. I am sure I will have more moments like this in the next few weeks, but I am going to try and see the positive in this situation and focus on that. I am going to try and keep busy, spend time with my boys and just enjoy life for a bit. I know it is hard to not worry, but for my own sanity and for my kids I am going to try and not worry so much. I am going to try and be positive and have faith. I am going to be calm. That is all I can do right now.
Now, let’s just get one thing straight from the beginning. I am no expert by any means. For those who have been following me would know that I did a year of homeschooling with my 2 boys last year. I do not have years of homeschooling tips and tricks, but as I have just gone through a year of this I am happy to share some tips for those who would like it.
Homeschooling was not easy for me, and I take my hats off to the mom’s out there doing this on a regular basis with multiple children. For me, the biggest challenge was the fact that my boys were on different levels. When we started the year my youngest could not read, but my eldest could. The problem was, that even though my eldest could read I would still have to sit and explain things to him. So the age gap and the reading levels played a big role in us struggling for quite some time.
Besides the schooling aspect of our current situation is the fact that everyone is now in one space together, more pressure is placed on us as mothers. For me, the house and feeding the troops every day played another role in why my homeschooling year was not a pleasant one. If I can give you ONE tip during this time, it is to get everyone involved. Cleaning the house, cooking, tidying up, it is NOT JUST YOUR JOB as the woman/mother in the house. The kids need to help. The husbands, whether they are out working or stuck at home, EVERYONE needs to pitch in.
Getting the whole family involved in maintaining the house ticks many boxes. It teaches them they are part of a team and need to do their part, they get some exercise and they will start to appreciate what mom has to do on a daily basis for them. Involve them in helping with meal prep.
While on the subject of meals. Try and make big meals for dinner, which can then be eaten as lunch the next day. Or even better make big batches of meals that can be frozen and kept for a later in the week. This way you are not spending the majority of time in your kitchen, cooking, and cleaning. For me, as someone who is not a fan of cooking, this is a life saver.
Something I would suggest to schedule in is alone time. Make time for everyone to spend some time alone, because let’s face it, the whole family stuck at home the whole time is bound to end it emotions boiling over and fights breaking out.
I think with everything happening, we need to all just breathe a bit and realise it is holiday time. Allow yourself to just relax for a bit, slow down and take this time to spend QUALITY time with your family. Play, talk, colour, watch a movie, play some board games. Connect with your kids, don’t worry too much about school work. They also need a break.
Some schools have sent “homework” for the holidays, some have not. I do not think we need to do school work every day. I do not think you need to spend money and set up a “classroom” in your home. Obviously, if our time at home gets extended, which I do think will happen, this will change and we will have to start doing some work. But for now, I think we need to just take it easy.
Do not put too much stress on yourself with regards to school work. If your school has not given you tips or work to keep your kids busy and you want to do some work, there are numerous sites that are offering free resources during this period. But if all you do is read every day, that is also fine. For both my kid’s handwriting is something we need to work on. Self Isolation or not, we would have worked on handwriting this holiday.
Many people have made a schedule of what they will do every day, down to the very min. I have not done this, simply because I would like my kids to have a holiday and just play. When they become bored or start bickering with each other, that is when I will step in, and we will do something together, whether it is something creative or some school-related work.
What we plan on doing: Read books together Draw and colour Build Lego Make and play with hand puppets Play outside Draw on sidewalks or walks with chalk Play board games Watch movies Make up our own board games Do some simple, fun experiments at home
I will be posting what we do every day, in case anyone is looking for ideas of things to do. I will also post another blog about some of the simple activities we did last year that are both fun and educational.
One of the sites I used last year was www.twinkl.co.uk I subscribed to their premium plan last year, but they do have free downloads as well, I absolutely love their resources. Twinkl is currently offering a month free, so do go and check out their website.
If you are looking for fun, educational Apps, I really love Khan Academy kids.
There are also website like NASA Kids, Nat Geo Kids, The Smithsonian Museum and many others offering amazing free resources and online videos and tours the kids can watch.
Once again, just take it day by day, do not put too much pressure on yourself to be an amazing teacher. You can teach your child so much, just by reading together and talking. We talk about all kinds of things. Get an atlas out and chat about all the different countries and cultures in the world.
These are uncertain and scary times and we are all just trying to cope as best we can, maybe the best lesson we can teach our kids at the moment is how to be kind and considerate. Good luck all, we can do this….
So the hot topic is COVID-19 (Corona Virus) Is it the end of the world? Should we all panic and lock ourselves up in our houses?
I personally do not think it is the end of the world. Yes, it is serious, yes you should take action to protect yourself, but things will go back to normal.
There are people stockpiling groceries and preparing for the worst. Are they overreacting? Maybe a little. I don’t think it will get that bad. But at the end of the day, who are they hurting? No one, so what then if they are preparing for the worst. Let them.
I went to Clicks this week to get Vit C and Zinc. Not for COVID-19, just in general. I use it on a daily basis for immune support for all kinds of nasties. I normally buy Efferflu-C (not the flu one, the orange box for Immune support) And the last 2 weeks I have not been able to get it. But this week was the worst. I got to the aisle and it was so bare, so this week it became a bit more real for me. We do not have any cases close to us, but it has reached SA. People are stocking up on Hand sanitizer, soap, Vit C, and there is nothing wrong with that, they are just doing what they can to protect themselves and their family.
I think what a lot of people need to realise with this Virus is that it can be stopped and contained. They need to realise that it is not THAT scary. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be prepared or that it is a load of nonsense. It is very real and yes people can die from it. BUT the same as with the flu or a stomach bug you need to take action. Distance yourself from the sick. If you know someone is sick, no matter the illness, you do not hug them or shake their hands. You wash your hands after coming in contact with them. These are the steps we should be taking. Sneeze or cough into your elbow, wash your hands after being out in public. Unless absolutely necessary to avoid crowded places and lastly boost your immune system. This will all help to beat Corona and all the other bugs about to hit us this winter.
If South Africa can act fast and smart by tracing all contacts of the known 24 cases, this can be contained quite quickly. China, which has been the epicenter of this virus, worked as one and has managed to do this. They have made it past the worst. Their cases are declining and life is slowly returning back to normal. So it can definitely be managed, as long as we all work together.
And yes, this means that until the spread of this virus is under control, festivals and events like Afrikaburn and Tomorrowland will, unfortunately, be canceled, trips overseas will have to wait, but it is not the end of the world, these are just precautionary measures being taken to prevent the worst. So let’s just all be clever and work together.
I think something more important than washing hands and avoiding sick people, is avoiding certain media platforms. There is so much fake news out there these days. Do not get your information off Facebook or any random websites/online newspapers. Instead, follow the WHO. On their website, they have updated info from around the globe. I am not saying that the World Health Organisation is the best at all health information, but in this regard, it is the best/most accurate, up to date info you can get at the moment.