10 life hacks for surviving coronavirus restrictions with children

As we bunker down en famille, Amanda Cassidy speaks to other parents about the things that have kept them and their kids sane during the current restrictions


Will we ever forget it? The long days of being locked up together, our daily walk the only constant in this most higgledy-piggledy of times.

Shared solidarity, a developing Nutella addiction, Zoom fatigue and the need to escape our offspring for at least an hour a day, even if that mean hiding in the hotpress.

But as the days merge into one long sojourn from real life, a pattern emerges, we learn what works (TV) and what doesn’t (homeschool). We start to feel out that dreaded phrase ‘our new normal’.

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And as we trial and error, and cry and appreciate fully the range of emotions we are all feeling, many of us have adapted our own methods to survive. Here are some of the best from our parenting panel:

Tuck shop

My kids are constantly looking for snacks as we give them €1 each at the beginning of the day and they have to pay for snacks. Sugary things are double price. An apple is 10c for example but a biscuit is 20c. Because they only have €1 for the day, they are more mindful about what they choose to snack on, they are learning the value of money and it is all a bit of fun – Sarah, Dublin

To-do list

As part of the children’s schoolwork, they are encouraged to write a small list of things they accomplished that day. Rather than being onerous, my 9-year-old really enjoys looking back on her day and remembering the things she’s done even if it is ‘helped Daddy power hose the patio’ or ‘chopped vegetables for mummy’. In saying that, ‘watched every Toy Story movie’ is one I’d rather her teacher didn’t see! – Louise, Meath

Fitness fun

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Our kids always felt that Joe Wicks PE was a bit of a chore. Probably because I was strict about doing it at the start of lockdown. But as the days have passed, we realised that they wanted to take ownership of their own fitness and have taken to creating elaborate obstacle courses out of random things and then time each other. The place is a mess afterward but they are sufficiently sweaty and happy. — Emily, Cork

What comes next

A friend of mine got her children to draw everything and colour in everything they’d like to do for the day like trampoline, lunch, etc. It took a bit of time but they enjoyed the creativity, it marked a loose plan for the day and it is nice for them to see they have a little control over their day. – Jane, Dundrum

Zoom fatigue

I think part of the children getting through this is by keeping myself sane. And although I'm normally an extrovert, I'm finding myself all Zoomed out when it comes to virtual sociability. It is hard to politely say no when you are asked to participate in a Zoom quiz or catch up with family. I find it hard to exit the conversations and don't really have the attention span at the moment. I prefer to phone a friend one on one and communicate that way. It works best for me.  — Amy, Wicklow 

Reading

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I think we all need a little escapism and although some of my friends are finding it hard to pick up a book and concentrate, it has been my saviour. We are also encouraging the children to read in bed for the mornings or set the timer on the oven and have a reading session, even for 15 minutes to keep them in the habit of school. Inevitably, they get absorbed and read past the allocated time. My sister lets her children fall asleep to an audiobook and they are getting through loads of good books. — Lisa, Dublin 

New traditions

We've found ourselves coming up with a few new traditions to help us get through these muddled weeks. We've allocated Sunday for pancakes and have decided Tuesday is takeaway night as we have discovered that it has become our 'slump day'. To save ourselves the pain of everyday laundry, we try to stick to Mondays and Thursdays for clothes washing. Friday is arts and crafts day and Saturdays we walk down to wave at Granny and then make pizza. It means when we wake up, we know what "day" it is, even if it is unique to us. — Dee, Dublin

New memories

Part of the positives of being stuck in our own company means that our children have new-found freedom from term-time schedules. As a result, they are being more imaginative, playing more creatively together and we have found ourselves with time to do all the things we never had time to do. We've tie-dyed t-shirts, made dinners together and have really relished the walks and chats with our little ones. We both work so this is during weekends and evenings. I've started reading again and my husband started cycling. — Clodagh, Limerick 

Cooking

We've never cooked so much. I used to find it a chore but I've started exploring recipes, experimenting with new dishes and have discovered that as long as I'm cooking this much, I might as well enjoy it! The finished product is hit and miss and you'd want to have a thick skin with my brutally honest kids but overall it has kept me sane over these few weeks. — Mia, Dublin 

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Camping

We have a shed at the bottom of our garden that we decided to paint. We cleared it out and put in the kids' bean bags, we hooked up the Nintendo and hung a few Christmas lights and they put a sign outside. It is the greatest thing we ever did.

We let them watch a movie out there the other night on our laptop and brought them out hot chocolate. They also took out their LEGO and we didn't see them for an hour. You could do the same with a tent or even make a base now that the weather is good. It gives them a little space away from us and vice-versa! — Kate, Galway

Image via Unsplash.com 

Read more: Homeschool Hell: 'I'm under so much pressure and it's from the mum's WhatsApps'

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Read more: 'My home isn't a safe space for me, I'm struggling'

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