Lockdown with children – survival tips for parents

We are halfway through the second lockdown here in the UK. I know people have been through a second lockdown already or are soon to start one. And all these lockdowns have been hard on everyone, including parents.

Photo of a child painting a rainbow

In our case, we’ve been through a first lockdown that included 5 months of no school. What I’ve learnt then helps me through this one now – though having kids in school this time around makes it different. Yet we are all burned out and drained by the whole situation, so I can’t say this time around it’s easier. And I know parents with younger children have their kids home all day, with no playgroups or soft play areas open, rainy and cold days with nowhere to go. So life these days is far from being easy.

Release the pressure

Back to what I’ve learnt during the first lock-down – it’s actually only one thing and it’s the only advice I can give to other parents right now: release the pressure of being the perfect parent. Perfection is never expected from you.

When we try to be perfect and do all the right things like craft activities with the kids, but also cooking nutritious foods from scratch, and take your kids to the park every day and don’t forget to read to them and play with them and be a fun relaxed parent while keeping in touch with family and friends and meeting deadlines and doing the laundry and cleaning the bathroom and hoovering and washing the dishes while involving your little ones in these activities because it’s good for them and so on and so forth – SO. MUCH. PRESSURE!

Take a break from all of this, you deserve it! No, YOU NEED IT and your kids need it too! Wake up in the morning and have absolutely no expectations. Make a generic plan that will give you a sense of control and predictability. Don’t force yourself into checking a to-do list or to plan activities with or for your kids – let things just happen when and if they do.

Yes, your kids will get bored – turn on the music and do a silly dance with them. They might start bickering – that’s fine. They’re learning negotiating skills and you can at any point jump in and say ‘Oh, come here you two, my most loved people in the world!’ and snuggle and cuddle them – because you are more relaxed! When you expect boredom or bickering to happen, you can be more prepared for them. Or when you don’t have expectations for them to not appear, it’s no longer disappointing when they do happen, you don’t get frustrated and you might have a reaction than improves the atmosphere.

I find life with kids hard to plan because those little humans have their own plans, regardless of their age – they might be too tired today, or miss their friends, or have emotions bubbling up, waiting to be released through a tantrum when you had other plans in mind. So having no expectations prevents you from getting frustrated and being disappointed during these rough days. It even makes room to be pleasantly surprised when something good happens!

And if it’s too much to give up on being the perfect parent, if the idea is too scary, then you can ask yourself what are you afraid of and do a bit of investigation and healing there. In the meantime, just give yourself a break from trying to be perfect. You deserve it. You get to be imperfect during a lockdown. You can go back to striving for perfection when the restrictions are over. Until then, take one day at a time with fewer expectations and to-do lists.

Image from the personal archive: photo taken during the first lock-down, during the weeks I would still put pressure on myself to be a perfect mum and ‘teacher’ at the same time.

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