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Staying at home - how to make it work for your family

The MCO is being extended for 2 weeks at a time but I think we all know that it’s unlikely to be over so soon. This pandemic is making us throw out what was working and now we have to find a new normal. How do we do that?

A couple of ibu members wrote in with their experience, so I’m going to share what they wrote framing it as questions to ask yourself so that you can figure out how to make this lockdown work for you and your family. If you’re still finding your feet and adjusting to life exclusively at home, maybe these stories will help you.

Observe your little ones, what new routine works for them?

Jaclyn - Mother of two, a 5 year old and a 7 month old, living happily in Malaysia.

Before the MCO, we went about our days informed mostly by our commitments to activities outside our home. By the time we got back, neither my 5-year old daughter nor I were bothered to stick to schedule (we tried), although we roughly had an after-school routine that often consisted of me repeatedly asking her to take a bath, and her protesting.

A couple of days after the MCO was mandated, I set up my daughter’s temporary homeschool following the point system at her preschool. Being familiar with it meant my daughter was able to take to it right away. A step stool and coffee table became her desk and chair and that was all she needed.

We made a schedule, got some worksheets and put up a chart to document her progress. Within hours she settled into her schedule. Within days I saw fewer tantrums. After the first week, she began voluntarily going for a shower and getting herself into bed. That blew me away.

I’ve seen letters and social media posts saying it’s ok to throw out the schedule at this time. That children aren’t expected to keep up with academics and only need to be loved, and I agree. It’s totally ok. It’s just a matter of what works for your family. Perhaps it is a matter of timing and personality. My daughter seems to thrive on the schedule. Maybe it gives her a sense of normalcy and reassurance in uncertain times. I am no expert except for being her mum, and witness, and what I am witnessing is a great gift to our children in the form of present parents and personal rhythm.

So while the turmoil persists in the world, and despite the looming anxiety over the world economy and household income, we’re celebrating our small homebound victories.

What can you do to manage your time more efficiently?

By Amutha - Mother of two toddler boys, recently moved from Malaysia to Belgium

When I found out that we’d be on an almost complete lockdown and that I’d be stuck indoors with my two toddlers, I panicked. It’s plain tiring to be with children for a long period of time, especially the young ones. What could I do to make things easier for myself?

Firstly, I made a list of all my pending affairs. I decided which ones can wait and kissed them goodbye. I was also brutally honest about the number of things I could accomplish comfortably daily or weekly. If the words “I’ll try to x, y, z…” came into my mind, I discarded those items. Once I accepted what I could handle, I immediately felt less anxious. The less I need to accomplish during this time, the better!

Next, I laid out all the chores that need to get done and decided how we’d manage them as a family as we no longer have our part time helper around. Once I listed down all the household chores that need to be done daily and weekly, I set the time when we’d tackle those tasks and split them with my partner so we both know what is going to get done and when.

My kids are old enough to get involved, so I’m getting them to help where I can, for example with the laundry. The boys help me sort the clothes, put it into the washing machine, measure the detergent etc. The eldest is also helping to keep us on track and reminding us what tasks we need to work on next. I had to be mindful that getting them involved may make things move slower, but they were so happy to participate I didn’t mind.

Finally, I had to have a short talk with my kids to manage expectations. I knew they wouldn’t fully understand why there’s a sudden change in their routine, nor would they comprehend the meaning of all this being “temporary”. All they know is that mama is home and it’s going to be fun to have her around 24-7! I waited until they were playing calmly to introduce the idea that I’d be working at home. I showed them my desk and what I’ll be working on. It was a bit of a battle at first, and really tricky during meetings but after many repetitions they understand a bit better that I’m working and interrupt me slightly less than before.

In all of this planning, I also set a time for date night. Maybe we can’t go out, but hey, no one can stop us from getting dressed, ordering a delivery of our favourite food and having date night in our living room.

Thanks to Amutha and Jaclyn for your stories! The most important thing to do is to throw out your expectations of what your life at home with kids “should” look like right now and just keep doing what works for your family.

How has the MCO changed your schedule? What’s working and what isn’t? Write to and tell us, or share over in the ibu Tribe Facebook Group we love to hear your stories.



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