Surviving Lockdown without Screentime: our tips.
Isolation is not easy for any parent. Putting aside the larger picture, a disturbance in routine is never going to be easy for a child. The idea of no parks, playdates or playschools filled me with horror and heartbreak when I first heard the news. However, we’re a month in now, and quarantine has become very much the new normal for us. I wanted to take the time to share my survival skills for families going on this journey too, particularly those who make the decision to have no, or limited, screen time. Isolation is not easy for any parent. Putting aside the larger picture, a disturbance in routine is never easy for a child. The idea of no parks, playdates or playschools filled me with horror and heartbreak when I first heard the news. However, we’re a month in now, and quarantine has become very much the new normal for us. I wanted to take the time to share my survival skills for families going on this journey too, particularly those who make the decision to have no, or limited, screen time.
A predictable day is my greatest weapon when it comes to parenting. Young people love the security and feeling of control which routine offers. As an adult, it also stops me from spiralling and spending the day sitting in my dressing gown and scrolling through the news. On the good days, it gives me a sprigboard to flourish with ideas and craft activities, walks and yoga. On the bad days, it stops me from deteriorating into a ball of stress sand loosing my grip on the day. For us, sleep times, meal times and outdoors (/exercise) times have been the key elements to securing a positive and achievable routine.
My favourite isolation product has been a glorious device called A Yoto. We have found that being screen free (around the little ones) has had such a huge positive impact on the kids’ behaviour and mood that we’ve been without them for almost a year. It’s been a really fantastic change for our family, and we spend so much more quality time together. However, screen-free parenting is relentless. There’s no high-value distraction like TV for five moments of peace. We also like to encourage our little ones to be autonomous and have control over their wants and needs. We have invitations to play set up over heavily structured activity, we facilitate them being able to get their own snack and drinks, wash themselves and such, very much inspired by the Montessori ethos. However, when they want music they have to ask us to turn something on (normally resulting in frustration that I didn’t get the RIGHT version of Mamma Mia), which has always not quite fit in with our parenting choices. However, I recently discovered Yoto, a screen free music player operated by the children with two large buttons and cards. My eldest slots in one card and listens to Arabian Nights, another for English Nursery Rhymes, and Kids’ radio is available at the touch of a button. It provides some much adored respite from the soundtrack of “Mummy?” which has been stuck on repeat since the outbreak. My favourite bonus is that some of the cards allow family members to record their own stories; so when we have tears from missing family members, we can listen tot hem reading a story anytime.
Another great parenting weapon against squabbles and power struggles is a family meeting. Empower yourselves and your children to voice areas of concern, stress or gratitude once a week. Keep an agenda pinned up week-round so that of a problem arises, you can calmly put it on the family meeting agenda to discuss when everyone is feeling calm.
Forest School Activities
Outdoors time is so important for kids, there is advice emerging at the moment focussing on children having at least three hours of outdoor time a day (good to have goals). However, with long family walks and parks off the cards, it can be hard to get creative with outdoor time. Luckily for us, forest schools have been on this for years! Phew. We’ve been using the Forest School Activity Cards from Jane Worrell & Peter Houghton for ideas on how to make the most of our daily walk, and our time spent in the garden.
Charlotte Mason Curriculums
Any pressure for learning went straight out the window at the start of this (probably before the start of this), however, I have been craving structured activities to provide my 4 year old with. I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted and low on creative ideas, so I’ve been downloading home education activities and printing them from home. FiddlesticksEd, who we found of etsy, has some breath takingly beautiful resources, which have so many uses. The cost is so minimal, it’s such a blessing to have the pressure to think of fun activities eased. Though I don’t think we should place any pressure on ourselves to educate our kids in this time, thinking and learning is SO good for their behaviour and happiness; and we need to cut ourselves some slack and not try to produce everything ourselves from scratch.
A huge source of relief for us as adults has been growing our own food in the garden. Even growing tomatoes on the windowsill has huge therapeutic benefit. This is something your kids can befit from too. The sense of contribution and pride they get from being trusted to sow seeds, to water plants daily, to think of ideas for which veggies we should go, is so wonderful. We even had some chickens arrive during our first week of lockdown, and my eldest being responsible for checking for eggs every morning has given her immeasurable joy. Empowering your little worker-bees to assist in all elements of the home and garden is fantastic for their longing to contribute and be trusted. It’s also very grounding to immerse yourself in nature and how she just keeps keepin’ on!
Lockdown is a period of uncertainty for all of us. I have certainly found that the more regualrity and predictibility I can bring to my day, the happier we all have been. Follow my instagram @heymummawolf for loads of nature-based activity ideas and mindful parenting tips.