Part two of our lockdown mums around the world special (see Part 1: Canada, USA, and New Zealand) features mums from the UK and Australia. For Pramila Sandhu, 47, juggling work from home with her daughter’s home-based lessons has not been easy. “It’s a hard balancing act. You have work commitments to fulfil, bosses to answer to, and need to help your child learn.” The mum of an eight-year-old confesses to losing her cool sometimes. “Then I stop and remind myself that I am not a trained teacher, and we take a break and have a bit of chocolate – just don’t tell health conscious dad!”
Like many parents, Pramila worries that her child may fall behind in schoolwork. However, as she (rightly) points out, everyone is in the same boat — literally the whole world. “So don’t overthink, just go with the flow. We have been told not to worry if the curriculum has gone out of the window. Instead, we should enjoy this time with our kids. So we just do the best we can in this situation,” she says.
Read on for more on a day in the life of mums under lockdown in England and Australia.
Mum: Pramila Sandhu, 47, works in PR and marcomms. Dad: Jas, 58, Aerodynamics Engineer. Daughter: Uma, eight.
The UK’s lockdown officially started on 24 March. However bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants have been closed since 20 March. Schools and childcare facilities – except for children of key workers – are also closed. Under lockdown restrictions, people can only leave home when shopping for food and other necessities, for medical issues, to exercise (alone or with someone from the same household), and to travel to and from work “where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”. From 13 May, however, people in England will be allowed to spend as much time as they want outside and travel to work if they cannot work from home, provided social-distancing measures are followed. Schools and non-essential shops will remain shut until at least June.
6-9am Uma and I are normally up about 6/6.30am. Hubby is up earlier. He starts working by 6am in the spare bedroom which has been turned into his temporary office. We have a fairly healthy breakfast of porridge, cereal, fruit and milk. Then we wash up and change.
Uma and I have been exercising in the mornings. We follow P.E. with Joe Wicks (the world’s favourite PE teacher!) or do yoga. Uma enjoys Cosmic Kids Yoga where the exercises are done to a movie, or a story.
Uma has dance classes online too. With the lockdown her dance teacher has been sharing dance routines for students to follow online. Twice a week, Uma brushes up on her routines by watching these videos.
9am-1pm The dining table transforms into our work station. Uma starts her classwork. The assignments come each morning via Google Classroom. I log on to my work remotely. My husband Jas sometimes joins us if he doesn’t have any video calls, which is very rare.
10.30am Uma takes a 30 minute break for a snack of crackers or almonds. When she’s back, we work on online resources recommended by her school, or which I have found on the Internet. So she’ll either watch a video of a qualified teacher teaching live English or Maths, or do some online work. When I have a work video call, Uma will read, or play with her toys.
1-2pm I usually work through lunch as I prefer to finish work early to spend time with Uma. Lunch is a simple affair of sandwiches, wraps or soups, with fresh salad. While Uma has her lunch she likes to listen to some audible books, especially those by David Walliams.
2-5pm Usually by this time, my work has quietened and I can concentrate on Uma more. Just like everyone else, we get lethargic after lunch, so we do fun things like arts and crafts, or science experiments in the garden. We’ve done shadow experiments, and raincloud experiments so far, to keep Uma engaged in a fun, yet educational way. We have also done loads of baking: cakes, brownies, and home-made samosas. I even attempted kuih bahulu – turned out all right!
5-7pm Hubby finishes for the day, and will spend time with Uma. They play games, do some gardening, go for bike rides, or play frisbeee in the nearby park. I start making dinner. When they get back, it’s a quick wash, then dinner. After dinner we’ll watch some TV or Uma will practise her guitar. She has been missing her lessons, but we have books which she practises along to.
7-10pm Bath time, reading, and bed time. Uma reads before bed and goes to sleep by 8.30pm, until we get up and do it all over again! Since the lockdown, we have pretty much kept to this routine during the week. On weekends we take it free and easy.
Best part of the day: At 5pm when we can all chill and relax, and not worry about work or school. And because we’re already home and there’s no commute, we have this extra time to spend with each other as a family — which we wouldn’t have on a pre-lockdown day.
Worst part of the day: I wouldn’t say I have a ‘worst part of the day’, more a ‘trickiest part of the day’. This is when I need to juggle getting my work done whilst helping Uma with her school work. While the work set by her school isn’t as intensive as it would be if they were at school, it’s more task-based, such as ‘create a clock using yourself or someone else as hands of the clock to show about 20 different times. So someone needs to help her, then take pictures of the times she has acted out and upload them to her Google Classroom site. It can be tedious and time-consuming especially when you have emails to answer or calls to take from colleagues or clients. I have asked for a whole day off (after having put in the extra hours in the rest of the week) so I can help Uma with her work.
My secret mum treat: I have lots of these! Chocolates mostly, especially when things get hairy! Gin & Tonic at the weekends to relax and unwind. I am part of a book club and we have been meeting via video calls to discuss our reads. I’m also watching loads of movies, as well as popular musicals/plays which have been streaming for free during this lockdown period.
Lockdown-with-kids survival tip: Accept things as they are. We cannot change the situation, so let’s just make the best of it, and make it fun! Uma wanted to dress up as her favourite character Owellete from PJ Masks one school day, and so she did, doing her school work as a superhero! We also had an afternoon spa day where we did each other’s nails, coloured our hair, and put glitter tattoos on our arms! Or camping in the garden!
Mum: Kristen Willis, 35, Creative founder and Graphic Designer. Dad: Simon, 38, electrical engineer. Children: Bianca, almost seven, and Julian, five.
Queensland, the state that Brisbane is in, has eased some of its lockdown restrictions. From 10 May, each household is allowed to have up to five guests. Some kids also returned to school on 11 May – those in Kindergarten, Prep, Years 1, 11 and 12. Schools are expected to be fully operational from May 25 if the number of new COVID-19 diagnoses remains low. Kristen’s kids, who are in Prep and Year 1, have returned to school (on the day this article is published). More changes will be introduced from 15 May, such as restaurants and cafes opening, with 10 people permitted at any one time.
6.30/7am Good morning! The children wake up to discover the previous night’s ‘ISO-drawing challenge’ (ISO = short for ‘isolation) on a whiteboard in the lounge room (now converted into our ‘learning from home’ co-space). Within a few minutes Mummy is greeted in bed with the panel judgment verdict… “Elsa looks so good Mummy” or “She is supposed to have a fringe from Frozen 2”. Once they have shared their opinions they join Daddy for Vegemite on toast and Weetbix with honey in the kitchen.
8am To awake little minds, we set off for a family morning walk around our neighbouring park and water hole. Our family includes Mummy, Daddy, Miss almost 7, Mr 5 and our 11-year-old, three-legged golden retriever, Bomba. Miss 6 usually leads the group on her purple bicycle, with Mr 5 enthusiastically showcasing his newfound confidence on his Spider-Man BMX.
Along the way, we hunt for teddy bears in neighbouring windows (a community activity supporting children’s mental health). We also greet Charlotte, a nested Golden Orb spider, visit our rescue-cat friends Gus and Fran, and finish off with a ‘who can make Daddy run the fastest’ sprint.
9am-12pm Learning from home morning shift. Mummy takes the morning shift and sets up the learning space suited for both Prep and Year 1 school levels. We divide the space into two zones; zone 1 for Mr 5 consists of a fold-out camping table iPad and two blue button studded chairs. Miss almost-7’s zone is at the dining table, with a laptop and George Ezra pumping through her head-phones.
We kick the day off with not one, but two morning songs. Each child gets one(in attempt to replicate school routines), a citizen-scientist weather check, and a ‘days of the week’ sing-along. Now we are ready to divide and review school tasks outlined in ClassDojo (our school’s app for online learning).
(See also: FREE post-HBL fun for Kids and Families)
After just one week of home learning, Mummy is now a technical whiz. She can jump between content for two year levels, record videos, overlay audio, and take photographs for online submission. With an eagle eye, she watches the clock tick closer to lunchtime (the official parental tag-team handover/break/child school duty escapism).
12.30-2.30pm Learning from home afternoon shift. After lunch Daddy takes over (for Maths and science). This gives Mummy an opportunity to knuckle-down into client emails and execute billable work. As a solo-venture creative business owner, it is a mental struggle to shift from teaching two dependant youngsters to fully-fledged graphic design solutionist. It is now the new norm to complete deadlines after-hours.
3-5pm Active playtime. Tools down, the home learning is now complete for the day! Daddy retreats to the home study to pick up where he left off. Mummy returns to the scene for active playtime. This includes scooting/riding pathways around the house, drawing obstacle puzzles with chalk on sidewalks, turtle-spotting in the neighbouring pond, and walking our dog Bomba (for the second time that day). Eventually Miss almost 7 and Mr 5 will venture back inside for a slot-car race, a LEGOMASTERS show, or quiet-time colouring in.
5.30-7.30pm Refuel, stories and light’s out!
8-11pm Nocturnal life. Now that the children are out for the count, Mummy sits down with a cup of tea before continuing with billable work in the study. It’s time to fire-up Spotify and dig up some deep motivation. And so the ‘normal work day begins’…
Best part the day: Returning to the study for work at the end of the day, knowing that the kids have been stimulated, fed, bathed and put to bed. It isn’t easy, but what an accomplishment. Just breathe…
Worst part of the day: Returning to the study for work when it feels like there is absolutely nothing left in the tank. There is no choice but to soldier on and accept that this will all be repeated tomorrow… and the next day… and the next…
My secret mum treat: Using my favourite hair treatments and pretending that I’m in a tropical destination (without the children), even for only 10 minutes. Revive and survive.
Lockdown-with-kids survival tip: Chalk! Sidewalks and definitely Lego! Imagination goes a long way. Our daily ISO-drawing challenge has been a lot of fun and very rewarding to see their beaming faces first thing in the morning.
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