On Thursday 12th March mum and entrepreneur, Deborah Gray, dropped her 2 children (7 and 10 years old) off at school and went to work like any normal day. By the end of the day the school had informed parents that it would be closed the next day for a period of 14 days. Today she lives in lockdown, like many of us, with her family and cannot leave home apart from going to buy food, going to a pharmacy or putting the rubbish out. Spain implemented a lockdown when the 200th person died from coronavirus. Since then the numbers have jumped to over 4,000 and the state of emergency has been extended until 11 April.
Deborah founded Canela, an independent PR agency in Barcelona in 2006 and she now leads a team of over 30 communications professionals in 3 offices in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon. She’s managing the team from home, overseeing her children’s schoolwork, being a mother and learning to live with her partner 24/7 who is also working from home. This has become the new normal for many parents living in Europe.
Almost 2 weeks in, Deborah is kindly sharing with us some of her Top Tips for surviving a lockdown with 2 children and a partner.
*Have a time table that more or less reflects normal life and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to got to bed/get up late. Be clear with kids when you can be interrupted to help with homework or not. Get dressed for work.
*Don’t try to work from the kitchen… it is the one room where every family member bursts in at any time. Put yourself somewhere away from where you can hear the TV.
*Put up a tent or build a den in the dining room/hallway/spare room so the kids can have some private space and maybe let them sleep there.
*Do workouts/sports at least twice a day. Let the kids lead the workout. Use tins as weights. Build ninja assault courses. Write down times for running round the garden or up and down the stairs so each family member can ‘improve’ their own time. If not, the oldest sibling always wins.
*Depending on the space you have – book a room – for an hour alone and make sure no-one disturbs you. Both you and your partner will need their own space.
*Vary the place where you eat. Mix it up. Eat in places you don’t normally just to have a change. Have carpet picnics.
*Your kids will need to speak to their friends. My kids are 7 and 10 and not used to talking to their friends on the phone. If you ring their friends they will need a bit of guidance and support on how to chat on the phone until they get the hang of it.
*Eat smaller portions as none of you will be getting the same kind of exercise as you normally do, so serve up on middle sized plates instead of large dinner ones. If you are all at home probably best to have dinner at lunch time.
*Get the kids to make an advent calendar counting down the days between now and the end of lockdown.
*Try not to follow the news and/or social media all day long. Ration it out to morning and nighttime sessions.
*Make sure your parents understand how the video element of calling works.
*Book your friends in for Zoom/Skype/video calls with wine and nibbles, have a theme, dress up. We celebrated a friends 50th like that this last week.
*Eat separately from the kids every now and again so you can talk about everything openly with your partner.
*If you feel really emotional the shower is a good place to be alone for a good old cry without the kids noticing.
Keep positive and you will surprise yourself about what you’re all capable of!