Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Rachel Tapping founder of First Playtime shares her expert advice to help families find their 'new normal' in lockdown.
When this blog post goes live we all would have been in lockdown for 39 days. It sounds a lot when it's written down, doesn't it?
How are you all feeling?
We've struggled a bit this week. I think we're all now itching to get outside and be free. I'm dreaming about the time where I used to sew in peace, Poppy's dreaming about all of the things she could play with her friends, and I think our crazy cat Lola can't wait to get her personal space back. Even though she's definitely being fed and stroked more than ever!
When Rachel Tapping, founder of First Playtime, said she would write a guest post for Popsy and Mama (at last minute I should add, thank you Rachel) it made me so happy.
Rachel is an expert in children's play and learning and champions respecting our little people's autonomy. Something I'm not very good at!
Rachel's wise and knowledgeable words makes you realise managing lockdown life can be calm, and not chaotic. Her tips are brilliantly simple, yet you can tell will be extremely effective.
So, it's time I stopped writing and handed this blog post over to Rachel.
Take care and stay safe.
Tips for coping with family life in lockdown
from Rachel Tapping, founder of First Playtime
Family dynamics in lockdown
We each have ideas about how a family ‘should’ look, based on the media we consume, the stories we grew up with and how we were raised by our parents.
When I was growing up, my family had two parents, four children, a couple of cats, and a huge number of cousins to play with every summer. We all played musical instruments and the house echoed with the sounds of practising or classical records playing on the family stereo. It was noisy!
I remember being happy when doing my own thing, as were my brothers. We each had our different friend groups, shared family experiences, and time alone. I wonder how we would have coped with lockdown?
Our families are in unknown territory
Modern family is different things for different people. Each unit is unique. But I’m aware that, for some, this lockdown experience will be highlighting areas of family relationship that have not been designed for this lifestyle.
Just as it’s a shock to go from being a career person to a parent at home with a baby – with associated feelings such as isolation, joy, and everything in between – this lockdown will have triggered feelings and scenarios that we just don’t have the tools to deal with. Where we once had space in our day, we may now have none.
We’re all just finding our way through a new and strange landscape. And, as each member of your household has their individual needs, it’s possible that things are pretty overwhelming at times.
So, what can we do to help ourselves?
1. Identify your Workspace – Playspace – Headspace
What do you do when you need space?
Even if your home is small, I hope that you have somewhere you can think of as your own. It may be as simple as your own bed, a comfy chair, or a corner behind the sofa where no-one can see you!
The idea is that every member of the family has a place they can be alone when they need it.
What you use the spaces for is up to you. It could be downtime, schoolwork, business, alone time. What’s important is that you each respect these spaces, gently helping the younger members of the family to learn what that means, both for them and for you.
Changing the furniture around, building dens, or otherwise adapting your home might introduce an exciting or special element to this, if you decide to try it.
2. Forget Multitasking
It may not be possible to let go entirely – and it certainly takes practise – but doing one thing well is better than trying to do several at once.
Inevitably, if we fully focus on one task – changing a nappy, giving a cuddle or checking emails – we give it our all and feel better for it.
If you apply this to relationships the results can be profound. Imagine being really heard every time you have something important to say – think how good that feels. Now turn that around and think about how you could give that gift to each person in turn, boosting self-confidence and letting them know how important they are to you.
Once this becomes more habitual, you may also find that you magically have more time for yourself. Win, win!
To find out more about these things and other ideas to support lockdown family life, you can download a free guide from my website, and it’s now on Kindle too. I hope you will find there are more useful tips for working around this situation. I want you to come out the other side with strong or stronger relationships!
Take care of yourselves,
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