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Easter Holidays...or not?

Normally at this time of year all the children would be having a 2-week Easter holiday; a break from schoolwork, from the normal routine and rhythm of the school day. If your household is anything like mine, this would include late mornings, lazy days in PJ’s, relaxing the usual mealtimes and generally kicking back. But in these unusual and strange times when lots of us are already at home should we still treat the Easter Holidays in the same way?

All of the current advice about coping at home includes:

1. Keep your daily routines going as much as possible, whilst allowing for the fact that things are different.

2. Get some fresh air and exercise together every day – take advantage of being able to leave our homes once a day and get some fresh air. Being outside is great for wellbeing.

3. Connect online with friends and family – encourage your children to stay in touch with their friends

4. Check out free virtual activities available – there are lots out there at the moment – encourage your children to find things that interest them.

But should we mark that this is the Easter Holiday? I think my advice would be to try to stick to routine as much as possible but maybe loosen the expectations of what schoolwork needs to be completed in a day! Have a long weekend break, Good Friday through to Easter Monday, where, if you can, no-one in the house works, everyone takes a break, a mini holiday. Let the routines go out of the window for those 4 days, have a lie-in, eat breakfast at lunch time and stay up late, but come Tuesday 14th April, re-start and get back to your new normal!

Having a prolonged, 2 week break, could be tricky and present all sorts of problems trying to then get back to your normal routine. Since ‘lockdown’ you will have been working hard to establish some sense of normality and predictability for your children, both of which make children feel safe, throwing that out of the window could just undermine all of your effort.

Keeping safe as a parent is not just about social distancing it is also about finding ways to keep ‘sane’!

1. Remember you are not a teacher – you can only do your best to support your children with their schoolwork.

2. Take time out for yourself – it might be really difficult to find time or even physical space, but it is vitally important the YOU do something that you enjoy.

3. Try not to compare yourself to what other families are doing or the way they are handling this situation. Everyone copes differently and every family is different; you need to do what is best for you and your family.

4. Seek support and ask for help if you are struggling (it’s hard work having children at home all time!).

My last word of advice comes from personal experience: respect your child’s boundaries – just because they are at home all the time doesn’t mean that they want to spend all of their time with you! You might be revelling in having them at home, knowing that they are safe, but they still need their space. Peers are still important; talk to them about how to connect with other family members and you and how that could work. Set up a routine which schedules in family time (meals are often a good point of connection) and let them know that you’re available to talk. You need to model behaviour that is positive for wellbeing too, you need to ‘Practise what you Preach’ – so if you are telling your teenagers to limit their news intake then you need to do that as well.

There is no right or wrong answer here; this is unchartered territory, life is very uncertain, and you won’t have all of the answers, and it’s OK to not to have all the answers no one does at the moment. We all need to try to find our way through this together, one day at a time, one small step at a time, knowing that everyone else is feeling the same and knowing that it will end!

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