This week the thing that I have been dreading, for nearly two years now, actually happened! One of my children tested positive for Coronavirus, while my husband was still offshore. This meant I faced at least seven days inside, alone with all four children. 

Throughout the pandemic I have always worried excessively about catching Coronavirus. I am not quite sure why as I am young (ish), fit and healthy and have every chance of catching the virus and being absolutely fine. I think the worry was from the fear of the isolation period. As you can see I rely on the great outdoors to aid my mental health, I rely on being able to get outside with the children to help me stay mentally well. When that is taken away how would I cope? How would my brain deal with it? Mix that in with a bit of traumatic labour ptsd, where I jump straight from ‘we feel ok’ to ‘we are all about to die’, I knew when my second born got those dreaded two lines I had to think, fast, of ways to keep mentally well throughout the isolation period. 

It was during our time in isolation that I got thinking; how the heck have other families survived this? We are nearly two years into this pandemic so I know there are thousands of other families who have been through what I have, in fact so much worse! Yet I couldn’t find any help during my over the top Googling of “how to entertain the kids in isolation”. Thats when I thought I would write down what worked for me and put it out there for others to use, if needed. In fact most of the tips mentioned below would work for any day where you have restless children at home but don’t feel like heading outside with them.  

 

Routine:

This was definitely the main thing that helped our day run smoothly. Children need routine, or at least mine seem to! It’s as though they feel safe and secure when they know what is coming next, it also reduces the constant asking of “what should we do” or “when is it lunch time”. I am also in the process of teaching both my boys how to tell the time so it worked as a good aid for this: “We are having lunch at 12pm, what time is it half an hour before this”. Sometimes the mundane home schooling questions are the ones that help pass the time the most! Picture 1 is an example of our daily structure during our long isolation period, this proved even more vital when I then tested positive and struggled with symptoms. Sometimes you need a reason to get up, dressed and ready to start the day, even when your lungs are burning 😂! 

Home Learning:

I know the idea of this sends so many parents into disarray but hear me out! This time round I took a whole new stance on homeschooling, I took the pressure off and used it as a tool to break up our day, help the hours pass and teach them things they would usually not learn in a classroom. I made sure we were learning fun concepts, if they were struggling with their times tables or English work then we took a break, switched to some science experiments or some Numberblocks. During isolation you know the end will soon be here, it isn’t like lockdown where it feels never ending. When I was feeling at my most unwell during this time I found the homeschooling actually helped as it gave my older children something to do and allowed me to have a little bit of breathing space. I found my three year old wanted to join in with what they were learning so it naturally took her away from the tv (she’s a television addict) and allowed her to get involved with the family conversations. It isn’t always perfect harmony of course, there are tears and tantrums most days, but taking the pressure off really helped. Planning the work the night before always felt like an unnecessary chore at the time but actually worked in my favour the following day when everything was already laid out for them, especially on the days where I was quite unwell. Picture 4 is an example of the structure of one of our days, daily PE being the highlight – of course!!! 
The most important thing here is to remember this isn’t for everyone, I am someone who naturally needs to keep busy. We did also have our chill out time and the next section explains this a little better.

Screen Time:

Such a necessary part of any parenting day! We used every single possible screen time option during this isolation period and I feel no shame! Sometimes children need the rest just as much as we do! After day two we did decide to have some limits on what we would watch, and it ended up working massively in my favour! We got together as a family and found five new educational programmes that we would enjoy, these were:    
– Blue Planet     
– Operation Ouch    
–  Nina and the Neurons    
– Get Squiggling (great for little ones)   
– Motown Magic (Netflix)

It made me see screen time in a whole different light – the children were asking new and exciting questions about concepts we had never chatted about before! It also gave me a much needed, guilt free, half an hour rest. It’s hard work solo parenting on a normal day, never mind when you’re struggling with Covid symptoms, so remember to be kind to yourself. Use the screens as a positive aid in their education too, Top Marks is a fantastic website that offers plenty of Numeracy and English fun games. My pre school child actually loved these the most, she thought she was getting a real treat when in actual fact she was learning her shapes and number pairs 😂! 

hiking household

Audiobooks:

This is something I would never of thought of had it not been for the fact my children were bought audio players for Christmas off their Grandma – what a fantastic present it was! My girls received the Tonie Box which I think is perfect for younger ages, we have spent many an afternoon during isolation curled up on the beanbags listening to The Little Mermaid ❤️ It allows the perfect opportunity for you to take a break from reading the hundredth book of the day. I am amazed at how quietly the girls sit during the stories! 
My older boys, they are currently 5 and 7, have Yoto Mini’s – these are a smaller version of the Yoto players. I wasn’t sure how good these would be as you have to buy the books for them in the form of little cards and they aren’t easy to find at times! However, what I didn’t realise was that it also has a built in Yoto Radio which my boys absolutely LOVE! It has been my saviour this isolation period. When I have been feeling overwhelmed, and in need of some serious space, I have asked the boys to go and listen to this in their bedrooms and they skip off thinking it’s a treat 😂! For those who haven’t tried audiobooks, or quiet radio time, then I would recommend it. It allowed me an hour a day to spend some time with our youngest, who I will be the first to admit is the child who has missed out the most this isolation period. The focus has been on home school or how to entertain the bigger kids and all too often the youngest has been left to potter about the house to her own devices!

Games:

Our go-to fun activity! This family loves a game; whether it be a board game inside, or a game of cricket/tennis outside, one thing that will guarantee to improve our mood is a game! Perhaps it’s because there are so many of us? Although during this isolation period I found the children played many of their games in separate groups which worked nicely. Remember, it isn’t just the adults who are feeling claustrophobic in this situation I could tell that my children were also feeling it and needed some space from one another. They often split up into little groups, or even on their own, to play one of their beloved board games. I have listed a few of our family favourites below:    
– Poo Bingo: an absolute classic that I actually really enjoy too!  
– Head2Head: very similar to Pictionary. A fun, easy game that doesn’t require much setting up, or thinking.  
– Orchard Toys Where do I Live?: a great memory game for all the family.   
– Smelly Wellies: another Orchard Toys game, all of my children adore these games. I find them enjoyable, relatively simple and easy to set up.     
– Twister: a classic! This always allows us to let off some steam and have some fun. 

I hope these ideas have helped! Overall, anything that is able to entertain your children for half an hour or so will help pass the time that little bit faster! 

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By far the hardest part of this isolation period for me was the lack of space that I got, not only did I feel quite unwell for many of the days but I also had four small children within 1m of me 24 hours of each and every day. Mentally it was tough not to say: leave me alone! There was no other adult coming in after work, no other grown up conversation to be had. One thing I have taken from this is that I now truly understand why it is I love to get my family outside on our walking adventures – SPACE!! When we are walking up mountains, or heading to the park, my children run AWAY from me – not towards me! I can breathe freely, I have space around me without little ones jumping on me or asking me one hundred questions.

There we have it! Having prepared over 100 meals, answered 1000’s of questions and offered what feels like 1 million snacks, we are hoping that the end of our isolation period will be upon us soon. I hope that this article can offer, even just one person, some help and advice if you find yourself in the dreaded isolation period with young kids, whether it be from coronavirus, chicken pox or the sickness bug. And don’t forget: never feel alone, always check in with friends ❤️. 

hiking household