As a working mum, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a lot of changes for myself and my family. I’ve got three children, a teen, a tween and a toddler, so when we went into the first lockdown in March this year, we had a lot of adapting to do and we needed to do it quick! With three kids at home and myself and my husband working from home, we had a lot to juggle. Early on we set up workstations for the older two, but our little one needed our attention the most as she didn’t have a day-to-day structure to follow. We all had to change our daily routines, which was stressful at times, but luckily, we settled into our new family life rather smoothly all things considered.
My overriding experience of lockdown was a positive one... A lot of friends of mine have said the same, commenting that they’ve got teens who they thought they’d lost forever, and that having the opportunity to be all back together one last time is something they’ll cherish. I know that spending a lot of time at home can be difficult, so, as winter approaches, I thought I’d share my top tips and advice for families.
- Get a routine that works for you
Family life tends to very busy and with a lot of things to balance, it’s important that you find some kind of routine that works for you. For us that meant shaping the weekdays around the kids’ school days and our work timetable.
My husband and I would take it in turns to help look after the kids depending on our workloads. It was especially important for the children that we built a schedule into our day. So, we kept lunchtime, lessons and so on all the same. Had we not done that; the whole thing would have fallen apart.
- Occupy the kids
Part of the pleasure of the lockdown was that we were all together. Like many families across the UK, at the start we found ourselves dancing around the kitchen creating TikTok videos or baking another loaf of banana bread. But, once that started to wear off, we did have to shake things up a bit to keep the kids occupied. It was a challenge, but I think keeping the momentum going to come up with new ideas was key.
In essence, it’s important to find what works for your family. If you’re a creative family, set up an arts and crafts space, if the kids prefer being out in the garden maybe try growing your own veg or learning a new sport
- Get outdoors
I am a huge advocate for spending time in the great outdoors, and as a family that is something we’ve always enjoyed. So, this year we bought a puppy which has encouraged us to go out for our daily exercise. Barley, our Covid canine, has been a great focus for us as a family. Puppy or no puppy, I think it’s important we remember to get out and about, even if it’s just a quick walk round the block!
- Keep on top of the kids' hygiene
One of the toughest challenges about the pandemic has been keeping up the with the guidelines. We all know how important it is to wash our hands regularly and to keep our distance from people. But, as the lockdown eased in the summer, it started to feel like everything could relax and I did have to remind the kids, and myself, that this pandemic was still here.
Now that it’s become part of our day-to-day life, something that helped us as a family was having an area dedicated to our hygiene routine in the kitchen. Each of us has a mask and a hand sanitiser and we also keep the products to clean surfaces there too.
- Play dates & the new school routine
During the lockdown, everyone missed seeing their loved ones. When the restrictions were eased during summer, it was great to see my kids being able to play with their friends again - albeit socially distanced. Although most of our playdates took place outside over the summer, we still made sure that we were keeping on top of our hygiene routine.
One thing that I did to make sure we were meeting up with friends safely was packing a small ‘hygiene bag’. We’d be sure to bring masks and hand sanitisers everywhere we went so that things could feel slightly more normal, but that we were still doing our part to keep ourselves, our bubble and others around us as safe as possible.
- Manage anxiety & stress
I know the biggest concern for families now is managing anxiety and stress. It’s been a stressful year for a lot of people and children have felt the effects of the pandemic and not being in school. So, my best advice to families right now, is to keep talking – try to keep the conversation open with your kids. It’s important to try to avoid them bottling up any of their worries and anxieties. If we can keep chatting we’ll be able to keep on top of how they’re feeling.
Not all children are big talkers, so one method that has worked well for us is a ‘feelings box’. This allows them to write down how they’re feeling on a certain day to put into the box for you to pull out and go through together later.
Susannah is the wellbeing columnist at the Mail on Sunday’s YOU magazine. She started her career on the launch team of Glamour magazine over twenty years ago before becoming the beauty and health editor of Vogue where she worked with some of the leading photographers, experts and models in the world.
Susannah went freelance when she had her first two children before starting up the health and beauty website getthegloss.com. After having her third child she wrote a column called Healthyish in Grazia before starting at YOU magazine earlier this year.
Follow Susannah on Instagram here @susannahtaylor_
This article was written by Susannah Taylor in December 2020.