This is important

I was lucky to admire this amazing view on Saturday while eating a Japanese green tea noodle salad for lunch with DD.

We nestled on an overgrown grassy verge to avoid other amblers. I wish I could spend a few minutes every day looking at the sea. It soothes my soul in these frustrating, meh times.

And we had some company … DD took the cool photos of the cockatoos and I stole them from his phone. He has quite the eye.

I also devised a plan to get my reluctant offspring outdoors over the weekend – a bushwalk that’s within 5km of our house and has a secret beach.

The youngest wasn’t too hard to convince, but the eldest still has finishing touches to put on his DT and Visual Arts major works and begged off.

The youngest brought along her bikini, but there was a sign saying the water was too polluted for swimming. She was very disappointed.

We did 10,000 steps, which half killed me. Actually, the youngest showed me the Health app on my phone afterwards, which revealed I actually did 28,000 steps on Sunday and 32,000 steps the previous Sunday (both were four walks days). No wonder I’m exhausted.

I was so glad to get the youngest out in the fresh air. Someone shared this letter from a principal in the Blacktown LGA on social media over the weekend, regarding the extended school lockdowns. It’s about primary schoolers, but I reckon the overarching message fits for kids of all ages.

Dear Parents,

You might be inclined to create a minute-by-minute schedule for your kids. You have high hopes of hours of learning, including online activities, science experiments, and book reports. You’ll limit technology until everything is done! But here’s the thing …

Our kids are just as scared as we are right now. Our kids not only can hear everything that is going on around them, but they feel our constant tension and anxiety. They have never experienced anything like this before. Although the idea of being off of school for weeks sounds awesome, they are probably picturing a fun time like summer break, not the reality of being trapped at home and not seeing their friends.

Over the coming weeks, you will see an increase in behaviour issues with your kids. Whether it’s anxiety, or anger, or protest that they can’t do things normally – it will happen. You’ll see more meltdowns, tantrums, and oppositional behaviour in the coming weeks. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What kids need right now is to feel comforted and loved. To feel like it’s all going to be ok. And that might mean that you tear up your perfect schedule and love on your kids a bit more. Play outside and go on walks. Bake cookies and paint pictures. Play board games and watch movies. Do a science experiment together or find virtual field trips of the zoo. Start a book and read together as a family. Snuggle under warm blankets and do nothing.

Don’t worry about them regressing in school. Every single kid is in this boat and they all will be ok. When we are back in the classroom, we will all course correct and meet them where they are. Teachers are experts at this! Don’t pick fights with your kids because they don’t want to do maths. Don’t scream at your kids for not following the schedule. Don’t mandate 2 hours of learning time if they are resisting it.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s this: at the end of all of this, your kids’ mental health will be more important than their academic skills. And how they felt during this time will stay with them long after the memory of what they did during those weeks is long gone. So, keep that in mind, every single day.

I think getting outdoors is a big part of the mental health picture for the kids … and me … during these constrained times.

How was your weekend?

PS Speaking of important, did you see 60 Minutes last night? The entire show was devoted to Kathleen Folbigg. I don’t have the channels tuned on my TV, so I watched it at DD’s place and didn’t get home until after my bedtime. I’ll blog about it properly tomorrow.

Song of the day: Boom Crash Opera “Get out of the house”

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