I won’t lie, of all the things to be worried about during the Covid pandemic, what my kids would be doing at home all day should not be anywhere near top of my list, but oddly enough it is. I myself have transitioned into work-from-home so I find myself at home with them at the same time. I work, they each have online classes and often we are able to have lunch together (if my meetings don’t run over).
The tough part came when the second lockdown began at the same time as the summer holidays came around. While it was still business as usual for myself, my teenage kids found themselves sitting at their consoles most of the day, followed by their laptops when they eventually got bored of that. This was not the way I had imagined them spending their summer, but they had little choice.
For many parents, having more than one kid at home trying to deal with online classes would already be a burden on their resources such as laptops, tablets and even quiet working spaces. For this reason I downloaded a room scheduling software so that our spare room could be booked by either of the kids if they needed to work in peace and quiet. This was probably the best move I had made in order to maintain peace and harmony – for most of the day.
Going back to not envisaging my kids sitting in front of screens all day, I also encouraged them to learn new skills that didn’t require them to do so. With my eldest, we began woodwork projects as he had really enjoyed Design Technology classes in school, and the youngest began playing the piano. As you can imagine, hammers knocking and pianos playing simultaneously don’t go well together, which is where the room scheduling software came in handy again. They are kept busy by school during the day and I am able to keep them occupied after hours with useful skills that will hopefully last them a lifetime.
I limit the screen time the kids are allowed, so the quicker they get their homework done the more time they get on their phones or on the console, but they are penalised if they get low grades. While I am grateful for having the opportunity to be spending more time with my kids, I understand that we need to start setting boundaries for work and leisure time – something that can be difficult if you aren’t able to leave the house.
Having the kids at home during the lockdown is honestly not as challenging as it has been for others (as they are relatively well behaved), but the trick is to keep them busy when it’s not class time. There are plenty of productive activities they could be doing that does not require staring at a screen.