So how do we get used to this new normal? How do we evolve from parent to teacher? From social butterflies to social distancing? IMAGE spoke to some mums about how they are getting on with the current situation
Every morning Evie Stefton sits her children down to homeschool. She believes that education is still the most important thing to keep on top of in these strange times.
"As parents we are legally obliged to provide a standard of education to our little ones. Obviously there is going to be concern over costs and where to even begin.
“There are some wonderful independent education providers that have made their online resources available to children free of charge during the pandemic and these can be used alongside the at-home learning packs distributed by the schools.
Evie says we also need to be mindful of the impact this disruption has had on the children's lives. "They've had the ability to be with friends and socialise ripped away from them. Their entire routine has been torn up and thrown away."
Her and her family have even (for English class) begun writing letters to a home for the elderly and now have a host of new pen-pals.
From crisis comes opportunity and it is about channeling that creativity to benefit those around us — especially our children. But that isn't to say that the transition has been easy. Especially for those who are expected to work from home.
Deirdre Doyle runs the Cool Food School — a healthy food business that runs workshops, camps, and school education programmes teaching children how to eat well.
She says that the challenges of coronavirus have affected her business deeply. "Half my work has just fallen over a cliff as I can’t teach kids at the moment.
“However, with so many people cooped up at home, the safe knives and peelers I sell for kids to help out in the kitchen are proving very popular. People are definitely spending more time in the kitchen and it’s a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids some cooking skills."
Deirdre has set up free online cooking resources every morning on her Instagram Stories from 11 am offering food, art, activities and cooking.
I think the main challenge is going to be mental health
But when it comes to trying to mix family and work life, she says they have had to be creative. "I set up a WhatsApp group with all my neighbours — the majority of whom I’ve never met before. I organised a driveway parade for St. Patrick’s Day where everyone got dressed up, stood in their drives to wave their flags and we played some Irish songs through a car radio.
“We have also set up a barter system between us — swapping books and toys to keep the kids busy. Next week, we’re going to do an exercise class for the kids in the mornings on our large green — staying well away from each other.
“But I think the main challenge is going to be mental health — for the mammies. Especially those of us trying to work from home. I’ve yet to figure out a routine that works for us all — I’m still working on that!"
Children aren't burdens and it's our job to keep them safe and help them through this unsettling time
Meg Laver is a mum of three under six years of age. She agrees that juggling the work and home part is going to be hard.
“My eldest is in Junior Infants, my middle at preschool and my tiny one is just 4 months old. I also work in social media management from home. The thought of having all three and working initially daunted me but we will, of course, make it work.”
Meg says that the homeschooling part is what will put pressure on many parents trying to do both.
"I'm going to have a daily learning routine whereby we will have morning learning (a set topic) followed by outdoor playtime in the garden and then in the afternoon we will do our best to go on woodland walks. Work will need to be done in the evenings and that might be tough but it will be fine.”
"It means a lot of uncertainty regarding final exams scheduled for June but every cloud has a silver lining. I have swapped my dental role for mammy and I am very much enjoying spending all this extra time with my children.
“We started sea swimming. Whilst on our daily beach adventures we also explored rock pools and discovered starfish and an incredibly rare pipefish.”
Unfortunately, their sea wings were clipped after Brona's eldest son developed a persistent cough and temperature.
"We are now officially in lockdown as we await testing. The garden is our sanctuary but otherwise, we have been reliant on crafts and movies the past two days. I believe I officially lost the plot when today I came up with a genius idea. I spent two hours building a fort. With the aid of a few rubber bands, safety pins and thumb tasks I basically constructed a masterpiece. It spans the entire living room!
We are going to make happy memories no matter what.
“Sometimes it takes these moments to stop and appreciate the important things. Family, love and laughter. Although worrying times lie ahead, try to embrace the madness and your inner child."
Meg echoes that spirit. "I feel like it's all about positivity. We need to go into this with a positive mind. Yes, it's different but these are our children.
“They aren't burdens and it's our job to keep them safe and help them through this unsettling time. We are going to make happy memories no matter what."