All of a sudden in the past 10 days 100’s of thousands of people lost their jobs. That’s people with mortgages, rent, children, responsibilities, and in a literal night and day shift they go from having money to pay for all these things to not.
That movement from having a job to having none was brutal and life changing and terrifying. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. There’s a gut wrenching worry and the unrelenting terror that keeps you awake at night and makes you think of nothing else. Then you see people outside going about their regular business and you feel like shouting at them because they shouldn’t be when your entire world is falling apart.
It’s looking likely that my husband will also lose his job in the next week or so and I find that familiar anxiety rising in me. This time though I have the benefit of having been through extreme financial difficulty before and I know how to manage.Step One: Prioritise
The most important thing right now is to try and stay well and socially distanced (and wash your hands). You do this by figuring out what is important and MUST be paid for as opposed to should be paid for.
What are at the top of the list? Simply food, light, and heat. You need all these three to stay well. If you have a mortgage or rent there are systems set in place now to ask for a break from the banks etc. Use these if you have to. There is no shame in doing this.Step Two: Solidarity
We are not in this on our own. During the recession everybody was treated individually and at times when it was difficult I found that I felt we were being picked on by the bank. The difference now is that people have been laid off all at once. So you have others to speak to that are in the same situation; reach out, text your coworkers and friends, us social media. Don’t feel on your own. This will help.Step Three: Focus On What You Can Control
The Covid-19 crisis, not having a job, being cooped up in the house? All of these you can’t control.
You can control the small things. You can make a cup of tea, sort out the bottom of the fridge for once, organise the laundry, hug your kids. These things you can focus on. If you focus on the small stuff and allow the bigger things to take care of themselves you will begin to feel better.Step Four: Reduce and ReUse
Take a look at your finances, figure out what you can let go. Ring your service providers and negotiate a reduced repayment arrangement. Cut out those crappy monthly subscriptions that you don’t need anymore.
Get a large sheet of paper, write down all the food you have in the house. See how many meals you can get out of that. Plan your meals. Wash your hands.Step Five: Endure
Know that you are not on your own. You will get through this.
Decide something nice that you will do when you get through the other side. You will get through the other side. It could be a trip to the hairdressers or a pint in the local pub. Whatever. Promise yourself you will do that and work towards it.
I’m just working towards the day we have free hugs for everyone!
Seriously though this is so blooming difficult and I wish we didn’t have to go down this road again. I’m grateful that I have the skills to survive though.
We will endure.
Here we have it. My free ‘what the heck do I do with my kids while they are at home in isolation’ guide to online resources. Bookmark this; in all likelihood we are all going to need it.
Just to mention; don’t unleash your kids at all of this in the first day or even days. There is loads for them to work their way through. If you let them do everything all at once they will become overwhelmed and disinterested.
Learning to Code
Suitable for all ages, Coding is something that we have been doing for a few years. Code.org is a free resource which starts your kids from scratch (sorry folks I couldn’t resist) with familiar characters to make the lessons feel more like playtime.
If you’re interested in moving a bit further than code.org then install Scratch on your pc. We’ve had some good fun with this free application.
Free Books & Magazines
I’m a huge fan of our library card opening a whole new world of reading and enjoyment. If you’re in isolation you’re not going to be able to visit the library but your card gives you free access to BorrowBox which includes free audiobooks and ebooks, you can also read magazines on RBDigital using that same card.
Learning to Type For Free
Libraries in Ireland have recently rolled out TTRS (Touch Type Read Spell) membership for members but this has to be activated in person. If you’re not in isolation get to the library and set up your account. TTRS is brilliant for children who have dyslexia, dyspraxia and other specific learning disabilities. Think about it though, your child being able to type from a young age will be hugely beneficial later on in life. While you’re at it you might like to sign yourself up too. I know how to type but I still got myself an account.
I learned this one from the kids’ school actually. It’s a browser called KIDDLE. It’s a ‘safe’ visual search engine for kids. It is safer than letting your children loose on Google.
Origami is great for fine motor skills. You’ll find free folding directions here https://www.origami-resource-center.com/free-origami-instructions.html
You know that if you are in isolation your kids can still play in the garden? So long as you ensure that you all keep your distance from others it’s fine to let them out to run amuck. You might not have a garden though or the weather might be dire (I do live in Ireland after all). GoNoodle is a free app and YouTube channel which is designed to engage kids in the classroom (so in tight spaces). Clear a small area of obstacles and get active in bursts.
Speaking of which if you do manage to get out and about this Irish website about Biology might get you started on taking part in a biodiversity study or taking a look at your surroundings.
Keeping Up With Irish
TG4 have their own microsite for children based around their popular Cúla4 kids content. You can of course catch up with their favourite cartoons etc in Irish but they also have a Games and Crafting section on the website which is very helpful. Not forgetting their apps which are second to none.
Looking for similar in English? RTéjr is just as good.
What older kid doesn’t love Horrible Histories? Once again there’s games around a historical theme on this website by Scholastic.
Is Maths your thing? Math is fun is free and has oodles of stuff to keep everybody occcupied.
I remember learning to play chess many years ago and it’s a great way to keep a small brain occupied and working on strategy.
Does your child have a healthy interest in Science? The American Museum of Natural History has a wonderful child-friendly website which will keep them engaged as they work their way through the ‘ology’s’.
We also like to find out how stuff works. A must for curious children.
The BEST Irish website for history is Dúchas and if your kids (or even you) would like to contribute to Irish history and help the archives then consider helping transcribe the community archives. There are tens of thousands of pages left to transcribe.
It’s also worth guiding your children through the Census archives, looking up your family tree and finding out what their ancestors were doing/living many years ago.
I realise this might not be popular but you will want to consider allowing your children to play cooperative games online using headphones with their friends. I’m not going to suggest any ones in particular but you need to bear in mind that the longer their isolation goes on the worse they will feel. This feeling of being connected with their friends can be partially helped by using online games.
Obviously organsing facetime/video calling with friends and family will also help but nothing compares with theme catching up with their pals for a short while every day.
If you have any ideas that I’ve not thought of feel free to comment below!
Note: This is specifically for free online resources. I’m aware that there are loads of paid websites that offer free trials etc. I just want to sign up for stuff for free. Goodness knows we all might be feeling the pinch in the weeks ahead.
Are you worrying about what food supplies you should have in the house? I have you covered.
I’ll be honest here. I’ve been betwixt and between about writing this shopping list. I don’t want anybody to think I’m jumping on a bandwagon because I’m not. It’s no secret that I maintain about a month’s worth of supplies in the house (okay it’s more). My supply levels are not a ‘prepper’ thing or even a ‘money saving’ thing. It’s simply that it was not too long ago that I didn’t have the buffer of a full store cupboard; when times were tough financially and I had to seriously plan out every meal.
Being so open about my kitchen stores has led to a few requests from people on social media looking for an idea of where to start in case they do end up having to shut the front door to the world for at least a fortnight and go into isolation. I’m not suggesting you stockpile. Please don’t actually; please check and see what you have in your store cupboards before you go to the supermarket. Only buy what you need as otherwise you may end up with food waste and a rake of stuff that you might not need in the future.
Do be careful about calculating what you need to eat. It’s natural to want to comfort eat when you’re confined indoors, but your exercise levels will be far lower unless you have exercise equipment in the house that you’re going to use everyday.
I’ve deliberately included food here that is easy to prepare and cook just in case you do come down with the virus and aren’t feeling great. Cooking an epic slap up meal is the last thing you’re going to to want to do. If you generally eat more convenience food or would like to make your shop this way then go right ahead. I’ve not included alcohol; I figure most people have it in some form in their house if they really want it or will add it to the list.
After the (non exhaustive) shopping list below you’ll find other tips on how to survive if you’re not able to leave the house.
- Apples (in a paper bag)
- Carrots (in a paper bag)
- Broccoli (if plastic wrapped leave it that way it’ll keep for longer)
- Peppers (in a paper bag)
- Tomatoes (yes I know they shouldn’t be stored in the fridge normally but this will preserve them for longer)
- Cheese (1 block, see also freezer)
- Butter (1 block, see also freezer)
- Yoghurt (see also freezer)
- Milk (see also freezer)
- Salad leaves (held loosely in a paper bag)
- Oven chips
- Milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt can all be frozen to make them last longer than 2 weeks so fit them into your freezer if you can. We go through about 6L of milk a week for reference
- Meat/protein of choice – I’d suggest sausages, chicken breasts, minced beef, chops, all items that are easy to cook
- Sliced pans (just take out a slice or two at a time)
- Baked Beans
- Tomato puree
- Tinned chickpeas/blackbeans/beans of your choice
- Potatoes (keep in a cool dry place in a paper bag away from sunlight)
- Onions (store in the same manner as potatoes)
- Porridge Oats
- Wheat Biscuits
- Plain Flour
- Eggs (about 2 dozen but as many as you think you’ll need, store them in the fridge to make them last longer if you have to)
- Dried Fruit
- Cocoa Powder
- Stock Cubes
- Cooking Oil
Other essential items
- Toilet Paper
- Surface cleaning spray
- Paracetamol/Ibruprofen (in liquid form if you need it for children)
- Dioralyte or Zero tabs for rehydrating when ill
- Washing detergent
- Shampoo/Showergel etc
2 weeks or more is an incredibly long time to be shut off from the world. There’s a lot to think about if you want to be prepared.
- Make sure your prescriptions are up to date, filled, and that you have at least 2 weeks in stock in your house. Speak to your pharmacist if you are unsure about what you might need.
- If you pay your utilities using a pay-as-you-go meter make sure your card is topped up and that you have access to a way to add credit if you need to without leaving the house.
- It’s mad the things you don’t think about needing when it’s so convenient to nip out and grab them; do you have enough batteries/plasters/nappies/sanitary towels?
- Get a free library card (if you haven’t already) and get yourself set up with BorrowBox on your smartphone and/or tablets. You can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the comfort of your home for free. I guarantee you will go nuts if you watch TV all day.
- Organise your friends and family to facetime/call you at intervals during the day. Think about playing games online with one another to keep in touch face-to-face (without touching faces that’s a no-no).
- Have a routine for emptying the bins out to the wheely bins then sanitising as you go out and back.
- Have a plan for deliveries coming to the door that you may have to sign for.
- If you have kids board games will come in handy along with learning a new skill, maybe origami or knitting.
This might help you/it might not. If you have any suggestions or tips to add to this blogpost please comment below so that everybody can benefit. To those who asked me for this in blogpost format I hope that this answers your questions!
I’m more conscious about what I post online in the past few years. I’ve always included the boys in the conversation surrounding the blog. I have a blog and they understand that what I do is online. However, they are getting older and they are starting to make their own individual footprints in the online world so I’m trying to share what is going on without too much identifying information.
When you parent a neurotypical child your path through life is fairly predictable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without its twists/turns/bumps/surprises, but society and the educational system is geared towards the normal child progressing to be a normal adult. Whatever normal is.
Neurotypical. That’s a word that’s part of a brand new lexicon that I’m rapidly becoming accustomed to.
Like every other parent who has found themselves on a slightly different path than they envisioned the last while has been difficult.
My child is still the same they have always been. Nothing has changed about them. Life will be similar but better for them now that we know what their differences are. I, however, carry around worries that they will come up against so many more obstacles than their peers and that life will be even more challenging for them because they are marked differently to everybody else.
Now we have to channel our efforts in this direction and steel ourselves for a prolonged journey into the land of dealing with various state and semi-state institutions. To plead, not for what he needs, but for what he’s entitled to. There’s a big line down the middle of his needs and entitlements. At times the chasm that the line has become is taking my breath away.
Life goes on; we are resilient and will adapt. It’s time to get used to the new normal.
I’ve had this post in my drafts for quite some time. A long time as it happens. For months when I went to post on the blog it became an obstacle to posting something new. I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve when it comes to parenting. I’ve edited and posted this a million times in my mind. This is not a ‘poor me’ or a ‘poor them’ blog post. It is what it is; we are where we are.