The world is currently in crisis. Covid-19 is causing 25% of the Earth’s current population to be locked down in their homes. It’s unlike anything most of us will have experienced in our lifetime. For those of us with blended families, it means extended periods of time without our children, me included.
Should we be continuing with contact as normal? Is that going to spread the virus further and will it increase my or my children’s exposure? What’s the best way to communicate my thoughts or concerns in a positive way when we normally struggle to communicate?
These uncertain times come with questions that we don’t have the answers for. I would wager it’s not something we have given much thought too before either.
For me, the risks aren’t worth it. How would I feel if I pushed for contact and then one of my sons became ill? Let’s say that this current situation will last 3 months. Not having physical, face to face contact for 3 months is a small price to pay for my children’s health. That’s the rationalisation I have been doing in my head.
And it’s not like there is no contact. I am checking in with them daily via messaging and video calling – just letting them know I am thinking of them. Yesterday I got my ass handed to me by my 7 year old when we played Nintendo Switch Online together (he has one here and one at his Mum’s).
I am keeping in touch with their Mum’s more than I usually would. With my parallel parent in particular, things are a little less strained. The gravity of the situation we are in has overtaken our communication issues.
If you are struggling, try to remember the following.
- Trust your counterpart is doing the best they can. Right now stress and anxiety is heightened for most people. We are all living totally differently. Cut some slack.
- Continue to be mindful of how you are talking around the kids. Talking about the “crazy people” stocking up or “totally irresponsible people” going outside when their other parents might be doing that for valid reasons, is only going to cause more anxiety for your kids
- Be flexible. You might not see your kids for a while. You might be stuck with your kids and have no respite for a while. Both kinda suck. There could be worse things. You are probably seeing these worse things on your newsfeed daily. Do the best you can to keep yourself and everyone around you as happy and safe as can be. Be the calm centre of the universe. You will get to see your kids again (video call them right now) and/or you will get some time for you soon too.
While we don’t currently have my boys with us we do have my stepdaughters. They have been really good so far. Unfortunately, me and Nicky have both had to work and that’s been hard. The girls have been largely left to their own devices for 8 hours a day.
We have been staggering our work and making sure we give them some things to do, to keep them occupied. Then in the evenings, we make sure we do some things together. The weather has been nice which has helped. The girls have been able to get into the garden and get some exercise and sunshine.
We have felt extremely guilty for not providing them with a stimulating, educational experience. I’m not entirely sure how we could have achieved this arbitrary goal given our work. The guilt, however, remains. Social media is full of children sat studiously at a makeshift desk while proud parents sit and go through work set by the school.
It’s a reminder, for me at least, of why I don’t do social media. There is always someone who is going to make you feel like shit. Like you should be doing better.
The children should be at school, therefore we should school them. I’m not sure its the right approach and actually some time away from the stresses of school might do them some good. Homeschooling isn’t necessarily about sitting at a desk for 6 hours.
I’m actually OK with the kids having some time and some space. Asking us questions, learning about what’s happening. Maybe learning something they wouldn’t at school.
Convincing Nicky that this situation is OK is another matter. She is far too hard on herself.
In the end, we are spending time with them where we can. Making sure we are using our newly acquired Disney + subscription to its max (Holy crap the 4k HDR is superb!!). Talking through the current crisis with them, taking the dog out for walks, cooking in the kitchen, getting them involved in DIY……
Socially Distant DIY
Being stuck in the house means you notice the imperfections more. That office you have been meaning to decorate but have been using as a dumping ground?
Well, now I’m sitting in it for 8 hours a day.
The garden that we have put off doing because there is always tomorrow?
That’s now a critical lifeline. A source of vitamin D and exercise for the couped up kids. It’s also where we can get some of our food from where the world goes to shit…..
Seems like we aren’t the only ones thinking like this.
So everyone is panic-buying not only food items and toilet paper but the materials they need to improve the spaces we occupy. And that’s ok. It’s something to focus on. Something to make ourselves feel better.
So far I have managed to take the greenhouse/deathtrap down. It’s made the garden feel huge!
We are planning on extending the raised patio area out over where the greenhouse used to be, probably with decking. A bigger veggie patch down the bottom, with some chickens no less, a new shed…..
So we are getting some work done in the garden. I also need to get this office sorted out and turn it into my nerd nest, a proper OBF HQ. Plans are being hatched this weekend. Graph paper, alcohol and lots of swearing and compromise. I’m not sure Nicky is fully aware of the
toys vital work equipment I want need in here.
I’ll report back here with our, no-doubt, lofty plans next week.
Before I sign off this week I just wanted to make sure you are caring for yourself. It’s never been more important.
- Keep up appearances. If might be fun day 1 or day 2 to work in your pj’s. Day 6 and 7 not so much. Taking care of you physical appearance will make you feel good.
- Get up at the same time, eat a good breakfast, meditate. Prepare your day as if you are actually going to work. When you have finished get changed in some other clothes. We are creatures of habit. The routine makes us feel normal.
- Don’t focus on the media. Checkin once or twice a day. Keep a distance and stay grounded from the sometimes quite scary, world out there.
- Keep eating well
- Exercise at home, do yoga, some weights (anything heavy)
- Talk to others. Even if you live alone. Have virtual beers with friends (real beer, virtual meeting space)
I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Care for the caretaker. Look after yourself so you are in the best position to look after others.
Stay safe and don’t take any chances.