Surviving, even thriving during lockdown

2020 is a year that we’ll never forget. I learned a lot about myself, that’s for sure and one of the most important things, I’ve learned this year, as a homeschooling mum, is that it is of the utmost importance that I take care of me first.

Many people ask me how I manage to balance home schooling and having time for myself, to do the things that I enjoy? Luckily I’ve had 10 years of experience with plenty of trials and errors along the way, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to look after myself and carve out time to for my interests. This year, I’ve gone from surviving lockdown to thriving and wanted to share my journey with you.

My self care starts in the morning with getting myself ready for the day, making sure I am cared for each day to ensure I am able to care for my family. How do I do this? Where do I find the time? Sometimes it’s easy. Other times it’s hard. Calm

Most of the time, I find little moments that I can claim such moments such as first thing in the morning. I am an early riser so generally wake up 1 – 2 hours before my family. This gives me time to spend in the ways which are most meaningful to me. It may be gentle exercising, going for a walk, answering personal emails, reading a book, any thing really.

A few mornings each week take me down the road to our new-to-us garden plots in the community garden. Oh, how I am unexpectedly loving this! Sadly, due to the lockdown rules, my family doesn’t go with me but joyfully, I am happy to have that time to myself. Just me, the wind through the leaves, some cockatoos and song birds, and my fingers in the soil. I am loving nurturing my seedlings along and watching them develop and grow each in their own way. Nurture

During the day, I carve out little moments by sitting and having a cuppa tea. It starts in the morning when I take the time to brew a pot of tea and tip it into an insulated thermos where it stays hot all day so that during the day when it’s break time, I can instantly pour a cuppa, sit and enjoy. I’ve made a rule with my family that I am “off the clock” when I have my cuppa. They may join me in the quiet, but no questions, no dumping problems in my lap. Now that it is warm, I can sit out on the deck in the sun, looking out over the fence, and across the oval giving my eyes a rest. Serenity

Another block of time is dedicated to time with my daughter for us to read together, work on projects together, just hang out. She may join me on a walk or I may join her on a bicycle ride. These vary depending on whose time it is. If it is my time, we’ll likely go along one of the creeks and take in the sites and sounds of nature. If it is her time, more than likely we’ll end up at the skate park or playground. Connection

Last week, we had three cockatoos on our deck. We quickly grabbed cameras, took lots of photos, then spent an hour or so reading about them, writing up an article, and posting it and the photos on her blog. A month or so ago, we did the same when we saw the eastern rosellas in the back garden. Homeschooling/Unschooling

The most difficult aspect of lockdown is losing the regular meet-up times with our friends. People who don’t homeschool may be surprised to hear that prior to lockdown, we were meeting up with friends 2 – 4 times each week. It’s true. Homeschooling doesn’t mean school at home for us and we miss our friends. One tool we have implemented is themed daily meet-ups on zoom – book club, games, totally tunes, and arts & crafts. We have met lots of new friends this way and we look forward to seeing them every day even though it’s usually just for an hour. This is a great opportunity for the kids to chat with each other, share some fun, and just be kids. My favourite part is when the kids bring something of their own – a new card trick, riddle, or something else they have learned or experienced and want to share. Fun times

Board and card games have become a lifeline for my family. We have added quite a few to our collection – Exploding Kittens, Dinosaur Tea Party, Dragonwood, Hanabi, Ticket to Ride. These are great fun for our family and there is a fair bit of learning in disguise happening, even if it is just how to take turns. Two of our favourites are Pictures and Bananagrams. My daughter, on her own, created a chart on the marker board to keep track of who won which game. So far her dad is the big winner, but we’re not out of lockdown yet! Playing games in the evenings has become a welcome time for us to be together. We will keep it going although maybe moving it to afternoons during summer so we can get outside in the cooler evenings. Family time

My friends, I hope you are weathering lockdown well, finding little moments of time to nurture yourself, pamper yourself, do something just for you. Your family needs you to have that time so you can be more present for them in all the other times.

This article was written by Ann Leach, a homeschooling mum who runs Home Ed Outings, a homeschool business dedicated to connecting and organising family friendly homeschool events and outings in Victoria.

If you’d like to find out more about homeschooling then check out her YouTube channel, The Natural Learning Lifestyle here.