Light at home
The world is changing. The way that we interact with our families is changing. Covid-19 has changed the face of our society. For the moment, school, work and visiting friends and family has to change.
I don’t know about you, but I have been overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. By now I could have learnt a new language, downloaded hundreds of different schooling apps, signed up for an online course, learnt how to dance, lost weight with online classes, viewed different museums of the world, watched a Broadway show, visited my cinema from the comfort of my own settee, watched an online church service from my own church or one from across the other side of the world – all without leaving the safety of my home and all for free! But yet instead of feeling supported I’ve just felt lost! Where on earth do I even start to unpack any of this information so that it makes sense to me?
We’ve sat as a team and tried to pull together some of our collective professional knowledge as well as personal knowledge of being parents (solo and adoptive), Grandparents, married couples, single people and all living in isolation from society, whether that’s physically distant or in social isolation locked down in the house.
It’s perfectly normal to feel worried. It’s perfectly normal to have a ‘meltdown’. We are living in unprecedented times. But God says that He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20). In fact, there are 365 promises in the Bible that God gives us; one for every day. Hold on to the promises of God.
It is so important to look after you. If you aren’t healthy you can’t look after anyone else. We have found the constant access to online news and social media overwhelming at times. If you are finding this too, maybe allocate a time during the day when you will look at social media, whether that’s a time slot or so many minutes a day. Don’t read articles that are written to scare people. Remember, fake news still exists in a time such as this. Only watch the news from a well-known reputable source. Our favourites are the BBC local and national news.
There are literally hundreds of websites that are offering free resources for our children. Firstly go to your school website. Teachers have spent a lot of time preparing online resources and weekly plans to ensure that your children don’t fall behind. Check there first. Remember, that a secondary aged child will only have about 2½ hours of concentrated work each day in normal school and a primary aged child even less. Try to come up with a home timetable that allows some degree of structure but also a degree of flexibility in there. For example, my ‘home schooling’ of two High School aged starts at 9am and finishes at 12noon with space for breaks in those three hours.
YEAR 6, 11 and 13 PARENTS
I have a child who was in Year 11. All the excitement and worry of exams has now been taken away, along with the chance to say proper goodbyes to friends and teachers alike. The schooling timetable does now not apply. We have sat down and written a list of things that my son would like to do over the five and a half months before college starts. It’s important that he still has a routine and a rhythm to his day, so there is a get up time, getting dressed time and meal time routine. He will still join the family for game time, exercise time and TV time. When we get out of social isolation he will look for a part-time job, probably in a supermarket where the demand for part-time workers is high. But I will also not direct his time. He needs a chance to feel bored in order to know how to create.
All Sunday and midweek gatherings are now closed for the foreseeable future. We have seen lots of ways that our local churches have used social media to try to connect with us at home. Some have been great, some are still a work in progress. You may be feeling really isolated from your church family or you may be enjoying the freedom to do your own family church. See what ways your local church is trying to keep in contact. Many have started social media prayer groups, worship times or posting connection items to people’s homes. Then look a bit wider if you want. Don’t restrict ‘church’ to a Sunday. Learn to talk about God everyday with your family. There are some great resources out there that help start dinnertime table conversations.
Many of us are working from home. Be kind to yourself. Set up a space where you will be the least distracted but still available to chat. Our family has set up an ‘open plan office’ on the kitchen table, with some ground rules about not being distracting to those around us. You may find that it’s easier to work in a more flexible way; most employers should allow this. I find it easier to do a few hours before the kids get up, a few hours whilst they are ‘at school’ and an hour at night time to check in on emails. Find a rhythm that suits you.
FAMILY & FRIENDS
Being separated from family and friends is hard. Technology means that the world has become a smaller place. For years we have connected with family across the seas or separated by several motorways. That technology still exists for those that we live in the same town as. Our top tips are: make sure you connect with at least one person a day. This might be via a What’s App video call, a telephone conversation or FaceTime. You could write letters, cards or emails to loved ones. Involve the whole family in this. Connect in the way that you enjoy the most.
For those that you are social isolating with be kind to each other. It’s important to give each other space but to find times during the day when you still connect. We know that families argue; settle any arguments quickly. There is nothing worse than living with an anger burning inside of you. Use this concentrated time to really get to know those who you love and live with. Have fun. Laugh together. Slow down together.