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In a time were such uncertainty is upon us and dealing with children who may have such complex needs it could not more difficult for carers right now. I wanted to share my experiences and things I have done to keep my children carefree and happy while in lockdown. As well as how I have maintained good mental health and wellbeing. I am a single carer most of the time as my husband lives and works abroad. You may say that this should be easy for me but with the uncertainty of not knowing when we will all see him again, this is very difficult, as we all look forward to the times we know he will be home and will be a family again. We have three children within our care, they are all brothers and sisters ages 6, 9 and 10 years of age.
I thought about things long and hard when I realised the chance of schools shutting was actually going to happen. I am lucky as I was a school teacher for 13 years and this was something I could fall back into practice again. I feel that there needed to be a difference between when we were doing school work and when we were having family time. I involved the kids in deciding what we would call ourselves and making a logo for our teaching area. We called ourselves the "C Academy" and put birds of peace on our logo. We made the dining room into our workspace and I decided on a time table. I felt it was so important to have a structure to our day as you will agree routine and structure to the day is what makes our children feel safe. When it’s a school day we typically start at 9.00 am they all do half an hour of Joe Wicks which they love. This is the time I make beds put the washing on or run the hoover around the house. When they have finished we do a little meditation to cool down and prepare us for the school work that we are about to take part in. This just seems to settle my three before starting.
We are very lucky that lots of work has been sent through an app called seesaw. The children all have the app on their tablets and so they can look every morning and see what they need to do. A lot of the work they can do straight onto the site and if not, I print it off while they start with some quick Maths questions each morning. We do around 3 hours of school a day and in the afternoon, we tend to do an activity like cooking, puzzles and sometimes just free play. I am strict about bedtimes as I don’t want them to get overtired. Teaching one-to-one is harder for them and they do far more work than they would normally do in the classroom. I think it’s really important to just let them know that you think they are important enough to give up a big part of your day to help them. It’s not all hard work and some of the work set is fun activities.
Our school has not expected us to complete everything set, we can pick and choose what we would like to do and all three of my children have their own difficulties with education. We are now in the Easter holidays and I feel it is still important that the children have a routine in their lives. I still get up and have everyone washed and dressed and breakfast is done by a certain time. We talk about what we will do the following day I normally plan an activity sometimes two, it depends. I think if we have something planned this helps focus their attention on the following day. It’s hard to keep it all going and you must also look after yourself, none of us knows when this will all end and for how long this will go on for.
You must give yourself time too, you are going to be doing more than ever for the children in your care right now and tensions can run high when you are all in together in each other’s company 24 hours a day. Give yourself some downtime, talk to family on facetime, Zoom and Watsapp; our family has organised a group chat and anyone at any time can call and any member of the family can join the call if they wish. My daughter organised a games night on the group video the other night, this was for adults only.
After all the children were in bed lots of laughing and talking as well as playing, lifted everyone’s spirits. I think at such a difficult time we must think of the things we love to do and cherish the thought that at some point we will all appreciate being able to see family and friends again.
I would like to say a massive thank you for the support of my social worker and the and kind words she offers me on our video calls. I would also like to thank Nexus for the support and kind words as well as the information updates they send through from Grace herself which feels very personal. Please stay safe everyone and if my story helps with ideas or just gives you something to read for 5 minutes on your own. Until this uncertainty ends stay safe.