Tell me something. Are you tearing your hair out working from home while homeschooling your kids? Has your kids’ screentime quadrupled lately? And, just like me, have you accepted that while patience is a virtue, yours is now running on empty?
Does this sound like you? Yes, I thought it might. Let’s see if I can conjure up a typical weekday at your house.
It’s coming up to ten o’clock, and the breakfast dishes are languishing in the sink. You’re scrambling to meet deadlines while moonlighting as your kids’ dedicated IT professional when they’re on Google classroom or whatever instrument of torture your kids’ school uses. Meanwhile, you’re trying to figure out how to explain fractions quietly without your eldest bursting into tears and the middle one shushing you because she can’t concentraaate.
And that’s just the mornings.
If the afternoons go something like this:
After a quick lunch of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, (at the end of the week your cupboards are bare, and your creativity is shot) you’ve shooed your partner and kids out of your office (read: kitchen table). You’ve packed your kids off with a treat, and a distraction device in the vain hope they won’t interrupt you during your afternoon of back-to-back zoom meetings.
(Let’s face it. Your cheeks are still burning with last week’s embarrassment when your toddler burst in on you-mid presentation- to wonder, in his outside voice, why his yoghurt was so lumpy.)
Then you might be:
a- worried about meeting this week’s deadlines. There is never enough time!
b- stressing about your children’s screen time. It has gone through the roof since Covid made its first appearance, and you can’t see that changing any time soon.
(Was it only last year? It’s hard to know when you live with young children; we have been in a semi lockdown for most of their lives.)
Let me help.
First, let me tell you that our kids (6,8,9) rarely complain about being bored. After school, they can’t wait to play (and fight!) together and make up all sorts of games. This might sound hard to believe, but trust me, this can happen in your house too.
So I’m sure you’re reading this and wonder how I got to this point.
It’s straightforward. It all happened when I changed my mind-shift, and I’m about to reveal how you can too.
When my eldest was a toddler, I was a stay-at-home mum. I thought my main job- other than to keep her alive- was to entertain her. And that I did. I spent hours on a hard and cold wooden floor playing doctor with teddies, where I was the patient with a broken foot. (Still not sure where that fascination came from.)
But one day, when I was crying in pretend agony, I noticed my mum chuckle. ‘What’s the matter with you? Why are you laughing at me?’ I whined as I was close to real tears. After chuckling some more, she explained to me how I was not just making my life more difficult, but also doing my little one a disservice.
She gave me a time-saving nugget that Janet Lansbury couldn’t have put better herself: ‘Children need to be bored; that’s how they will start occupying themselves. How do you think I got anything done with three kids?’
So, I leave my kids be (Not for days on end, that would be cruel). Left to their own devices, they come up with games that are always a variation on playing families.
All kids need is a little nudge, or some household materials like cushions, sheets and a few clothes pegs. Their imagination does the rest.
But that doesn’t cut it when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, WFH and all their activities are cancelled. So why not shoot for the weekend, and turn your Saturday into a Screen Savvy one?
Luckily for you, help is at hand. We have created six steps to Screen Savvy Saturday plan for you. Just sign up for it below, print it out and devise a plan with your family. Your kids will love you for this.