But what about the parents and carers, we hear you say? Don’t you deserve a medal for all you are holding together during this, the weirdest of times that any of us have experienced?
Of course you do! So we’ve made you one, a glorious paper medal that you can print and award to yourself or to someone you know. Download your copy – scroll down for the link – print and pop it on your fridge.
You need to be congratulated for looking after children at home, indoors for most of the time.
So much is expected of you. And the uncertainty is driving us all mad.
If you have more than one child, they’ll be wanting different things from you. And juggling childcare if you still go out to work, or are trying to work from home on your laptop, can be incredibly difficult.
Here’s the truth. Everyone is finding it hard. But from the huge volume of video apps that have appeared, you’d think everyone is learning to speak Italian and play the cello!
It’s easy to feel like the worst mum or dad in the world. ‘Where are the people crowding around to thank me for everything I do? Where’s my medal for cheering the children up when I feel knackered? Finding their lost toys while their screams raise the roof? For keeping them distracted when we have to stay indoors and there’s a scary illness out there?’
Time to give the parents and carers a medal!
Here are the sort of things you might want to write on your paper medal. You might need to print several copies!
- Top effort for keeping my cool when I cooked my child’s favourite meal and he said, ‘that’s not my favourite anymore’!
- Not saying, ‘please chill out because Daddy’s about to have a nervous breakdown’.
- Only swearing once today!
- Being patient while my toddler tried on 11 different T-shirts this morning.
- Reading that same story over and over again to my 2-year-old.
- Singing happy birthday twice – a zillion times a day – each time I get my child to wash their hands for 20 seconds.
- Not minding when my toddler points to my midriff and says ‘rice pudding’ – for some mysterious reason.
- Not putting a pillow over my head when my toddler had a meltdown!
- Clearing up all the mess with a smile after we did some cooking together and my child just waved the packets of flour and sugar around like she was throwing confetti at a wedding.
For all that you are holding together, it is time to award yourself – or someone else – a medal! (OK, it’s paper, not brass, but it’s still pretty flashy.)
Download your medal – print it off, write on it why you deserve this medal – and display it with pride on your fridge for all to admire!
Stuck for things to do at home?
10 things to help you cope with this change and crisis
It’s the same for most people, it comes in waves, doesn’t it? One minute you think , ‘Ooo, I’m doing really well and I’m kind of winning here’. And then there are times when you get furious about the smallest things, like you have been tipped over an edge, feel you have reached the end of your tether, and then feel full of shame and hopelessness.
So how do you avoid losing it with members of your household, when you’re all indoors together?
Here are a few ideas:
- Give yourself a break – we’re all finding things difficult and you are not a terrible parent if all this feels awful. It is perfectly normal and appropriate to feel bad and lost during this initial transition. Consider it a good thing that you are not in denial, and that you are allowing yourself to work through the anxiety.
- Slow down. You don’t have to cram in every learning opportunity going. Carve out time blocks for different categories of your day: school work with the children, house administration, cleaning, playing, etc.
- Have family meetings to check in with each other. There are bound to be arguments. Saying ‘I’m finding XYZ difficult’ without blame, can help. Don’t bottle it up or you’ll burst!
- Recognise that change is difficult, and we don’t like being controlled by this lockdown. These well known words may help:
Accept the things I cannot change
have the courage to change the things I can
and have the wisdom to know the difference.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Keep in contact with friends and remote family – even though that will have to be online. Talking with others reminds you that you are not the only one finding this difficult, that what you are feeling is normal.
- Regular exercise. Some of those online offerings might suit you. It will reduce the levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol which make you feel stressed. It will also stimulate the production of endorphins and other hormones such as oxytocin, that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
- The 7/11 breathing exercise helps you regain composure when you feel like flipping. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. It can be used in any situation where you need to remain calm. Handy, because you can do it anywhere – at home or in a public place. You don’t have to use these numbers as long as you remember to breathe out for longer than you breathe in.
- Intentionally do the things that calm you, like playing soothing music, or planting some seeds in a pot. Laughing is a great release too.
- Helping others will help you feel better about yourself. Maybe someone in your local community needs a hand. Maybe just being there, taking a call when a friend is feeling down.
And if, by any miracle, you have a bit of time to spare and you are interested in giving your time to a local group or organisation, Coronavirus – volunteer to help will help match willing volunteers with need in the local area.
Much of the above is informed by advice from:
- psychotherapist Julia Samuel, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour: Coping emotionally with coronavirus
- Aisha Ahmad, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto, author of article in The Chronicle: Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure
Do you need support during this time?
If you’re feeling isolated, anxious or unwell at home and don’t have anyone that can help you, may be able to assist. Community hubs have been set up across East Sussex to provide extra support to those in need.
In financial difficulty?
- Citizens Advice – if you can’t pay your bills because of coronavirus
- Employment and financial support on GOV.UK – check what benefits you can get and your rights if your hours are cut or you’re laid off. And what to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time.
In a volatile of violent situation?
Domestic or sexual abuse and violence can happen to anyone. You are not alone.
- The Portal helps you to find advice and support in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex.
In an emergency call the police on 999. You can also use 101 to give information to the police or make an enquiry.
Worried about someone’s drinking or drug taking?
- Get help for a child at risk of drug, alcohol or substance misuse
- Drug and alcohol services for adults
Worried about someone’s mental health?
East Sussex mental health directory – for people in crisis and suicide prevention, Mental health services and support, Caring for someone with a mental health condition, Armed forces services.
These are extraordinary times and no one knows how long it will last. Be gentle on yourself. It can be tough, but parents and carers are doing such a valuable job looking after the children through these coronavirus restrictions. Give yourself a medal!