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EcoNetwork Members in Action: A Daily Lockdown Journal

We turned an old concrete water tank into a new art piece!
Photo © Chantal Parslow Redman

Lockdown 2.0: Day 51

By Chantal Parslow Redman

A gorgeous Spring day started with kite detangling and a quick shed clean-out as the boys have rediscovered their train set, but are yet to understand the laws of gravity as they are very frustrated why their tracks can’t dangle mid-air or attach vertically ….

Since Lockdown 2.0 began on 5th August, I decided to start a daily ‘journal’ on Facebook, with a quick re-cap of how this experience has been for my family. I normally post a few sentences and a few photos of what we’ve done throughout the day.

I thought the lockdown was going to be about a week … we have now capped over 60 days. What has surprised me about our little daily journal, is how many families and friends have reached out to us from around the world saying how they love our daily re-cap and look forward to it each day. It’s really nice to spread a smile during this uncertain time.

In a nut-shell, ‘Lockdown’ is a complex, challenging and totally different experience for everyone depending on so many different things, and I very much acknowledge that.

I’m a Mum with three young children aged 4, 7 and 8. I live on a rural property in Port Stephens, with my husband, children, my Dad (who has lived with us since the first Covid outbreak in March 2020 but normally lives overseas), a German shepherd, 2 spoilt cats, and 6 very well-fed and loved goats. I keenly remembered the challenges of Lockdown 2020 and when faced with this one, I knew it was all about mind-set.

I read somewhere that we’re not ‘stuck’ at home, we’re ‘safe’ at home, and that’s something I keep reminding my kids and myself.

Left to Right – Bookweek School Assembly, Number Lessons, Geography Time, Maths time with Dad, Virtual Zoo. Photos © Chantal Parslow Redman

Words from a Principal on a Facebook post early into lockdown also resonated with me – essentially, this time is not about trying to get everything done, completing every school task and setting unrealistic goals. That’s what I tried to do in Lockdown 1.0 and I wanted this time to be different. Enjoy the little moments with the kids – play cubby house, read books, go on adventure walks. Don’t get stuck on the maths problem that your kid (and you) are not in the mood to do. Kids will look back at this time and not think about the schoolwork they got done, but how they felt during this time.

Facing Lockdown 2.0, and ‘Home Learning’ Grade 1, Grade 3 and Preschool kids, I knew we had to set daily goals and targets, but this time, not to sweat the small stuff, and to remember to have fun too. Some days just don’t go as planned.

With school tasks to do, zoom classrooms to attend and with so many resources out there, we initially felt overwhelmed. There is a mass of amazing on-line activities and a kaleidoscope of options available to all different age groups. Neve is 8 years old, Torin is 7 and Lars is 4.

So, each Monday morning, the kids and I put together a weekly outline of the day and time of things we have to do, (like classroom catch-ups and reading groups) and things we want to do (like virtual zoo trips, cooking lessons and magic shows). Having a list on the fridge makes things so much easier. And if it doesn’t get done, it just doesn’t get done. Maybe we’ll do it tomorrow.

The resource I’ve found helpful is ‘Newy with Kids‘. This is a simple to use site that lists the top ‘virtual’ activities to do with kids each week. The site also contains other great info like favourite shows for kids to watch, outside activities etc.

The NSW Department of Education site, ‘Learning from Home‘, has also been a wonderful resource, with some great virtual classroom activities that my kids have really enjoyed.

Neve, Torin and Lars have really been wonderful adapting to the change of learning and the change of pace. Lockdown is really tough on kids. Some days we whip through school tasks, other days it’s more challenging. They all miss their friends and teachers, but with technology, they’ve all excelled in learning how to adapt to Zoom Classrooms, Facetime and even virtual School Assemblies. As a parent, I have loved watching their faces when they personally navigate a tough maths question, or even just write the perfect ‘p’ on a handwriting sheet. My two school age children both received awards from school, ‘For Outstanding Efforts in Home Learning’ – this was a very special moment.

Left to Right: Father’s Day, Loom Warping, Passion Fruit Harvesting, Cubby House, Painting Creations. Photos © Chantal Parslow Redman

Hats off to all the parents out there, home-schooling is a challenge. Keeping kids entertained and off their screens is also a challenge. I admit, we’ve had a lot more screen time in this house than we normally do, but I know we’re not alone in that boat.

Hats off to all the teachers who are supporting us through this too.

It’s hard, really hard. And some of the work….wowzers, maths is taught so differently now … This video made the kids and I laugh – it’s very true.

And for some of the fun stuff we’ve done …

  • Built cubby houses and fairy dens.
  • Created inside pirate forts.
  • Gone on daily adventure walks.
  • Planted seeds and watched them grow. We even planted a tree on the first day of lockdown – it’s been really fun to watch it blossom and now shoot leaves. And our bees love all the work we’ve been doing in the garden too!
  • Done indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts.
  • Baked up a storm:
    • My kids love to cook and bake and it’s such a great life skill to have, plus it’s so easy to turn it into a maths or science lesson.
    • We’ve dusted off the bread-maker and now make our own bread, bread rolls, pasta, pizza dough etc.
    • For science lessons, we’ve made honeycomb and home-made marshmallows. Delicious, but oh, the sticky fingers throughout the house!
Left to Right: Donut Delights, Honeycomb, Lars Cooking. Photo: © Chantal Parslow Redman
  • We’ve made so many muffins, tarts and cakes, testing out how different ingredients work together.
  • And soup, we have made lots of soup!
  • Learned how to circular loom weave. If you’re a crafty type, or even someone just willing to give it a go, the kids have loved this. There’s some great YouTube videos on how to do this – we started with this one
  • Created a mural – we’ve turned an old concrete water tank into a new art piece!
  • Virtual Zoo trips with the Australian Reptile Park and Taronga Zoo.
  • Written ‘Lockdown Letters’ to friends around the world.
  • Learnt magic tricks.
  • Done live cooking classes with Donna Hay, Master Chefs and other cooking maestros.
  • Watched Lego Masterclasses.
  • Made up silly games like Obstacle Courses and Spud Cricket.
  • Loved snuggling up and chilling out to family movie nights or afternoons.

And right now, I’m enjoying having a moment to myself to write this up. I’ve only been interrupted once – that’s a record!

I’m really glad I started this Lockdown Journal – it’s already lovely to reflect on some of our days and what we did. It certainly makes being at home feel much more like an adventure with lots of different things we can have fun doing and keep busy with.

It’s really nice to have the time to find joy in the little things.