Well, here we are, we’ve welcomed in the New Year, Christmas is swiftly becoming a distant memory. We are full of New Year cheer, resolutions and determination – you’d think!
However, It’s Monday 4th January 2021 and our Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced another National Lockdown. Lockdown 3. Personally for me, this is a welcome announcement because i’m sure, like many we are all getting to the stage now that we just want Coronavirus (Covid-19) to be a thing of the past. It’s all getting a bit too much now isn’t it?
This guide is designed to help you make it through the other side.
The Summer Lockdown was very different to what we are facing now. I’d go as far to say it was a little bit ‘exciting’ at first, for me it was anyway. The idea of spending time with my family, not having to go out and face the world. Baking cakes, bread and cooking more wholesome home cooked meals. Bonding with the children whilst home schooling.
Learning how to cut hair with thanks to Youtube and we had the glorious weather on our side too so of course paddling pools and mock-tails a plenty. (OK, the odd cocktail too!) The world had stopped, slowed and allowed us to appreciate the things in life that quickly pass us by and we often take for granted.
It goes without saying that not everyone was/is able to to spend this time with family members. This time has also made me realise that many in the UK are vulnerable, homeless, isolated, elderly, financially unstable and of course mental health plays a big factor in a situation like this and I hope anyone who is reading this that finds themselves in a similar situation manages to find the help needed to get through these times. I’ve offered some direction of help below.
First things first….sack that off! You are forgiven for delaying that for 12 months!
Home schooling can be STRESSFUL. I know!
Online learning is something we’ve all grown to know only too well. With everything now online you will need device to access lessons. Usually a laptop or tablet will suffice. If you do not have one then the first thing to do would be contact your child’s school and explain your situation. The Department for Education (DfE) provided laptops and tablets to schools to help children and families access remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19). They are also helping disadvantaged children who need an internet connection to get internet access. Find out more HERE
From January 2021, DfE will increase the help available through its get help with technology programme.
Schools are obliged to provide work regardless so if no electronic device is available then manual/paper work should be given.
Stressing or worrying will not do any favours for yourself or your children. I thought home schooling wouldn’t be difficult but I very quickly found out that teaching has changed so much from when i was in Primary School. I did not have a clue what half of the work was about when it was issued. How do I help my children if i don’t know myself?
What was most important was the mental health of myself and my family. Anything that we were unable to do at home, we looked up on Youtube, asked other parents and of course fedback to the teacher for clarity. Don’t expect your child to learn like they would normally in a class room. They are at home, it is their safe place, it is their place to relax and be themselves so they may rebel slightly with learning at home. I found that little and often worked well with my children. Short bursts of learning meant they held their concentration for just about long enough.
One thing to remember is that not everything can be learnt in a class room. Maths, English, science etc is crucial but so are life skills.
Use the time to teach them how to cook, bake, budget. Depending on their age teach them about managing finances. Make something out of different materials, build models, make from scrap materials in the garage or shed.
There is so much more that can be learnt at home so don’t panic.
Unlike with the summer lockdown, the current lockdown may be a little bit harder due to the poor weather. We can’t spend days in our gardens, we are not getting our usual dose of Vitamin D and the daylight hours are minimal.
The drab and dreary days can cause mental health to decline and depression and anxiety to increase.
Get outside for at least 10 minutes a day if you can – longer if possible. If you have children, make sure they get some fresh air too. Of course it’s cold and often wet but don the wellies, gloves, hats, coats and scarves and get out there. Let them get dirty, jump in puddles, build snowmen, if you have snow go sledging, get out the bikes and go for a bike ride. Parks are also still open so you can visit your local park.
It goes without saying that you should always follow the guidance for staying safe. Ensure that you stay in your household bubble, respect the 2 meter distance and sanitise when and where you need to.
Self care/ Self love & Mental Health
This is one of the most important things on this list. You absolutely need to look after yourself. I understand that everyone is in a different situation. If you are on medication, it’s crucial you remember to take them and keep on top. Set reminders on your phone if you find you forget.
Vitamins & Medication: Take vitamin supplements. I take multivitamins which has many benefits – these also include a dose of Vitamin D which I now no longer get from natural sources in the winter. Your children can take vitamins too, there are specific brands that will do them in sweet form.
Time out: Your house is probably rarely empty these days and you’ve been forced to spend more time with your loved ones than usual. This is time to cherish and make memories but that also means less time for you as a person. Everyone needs some time alone to gather their thoughts, destress, chill out, do nothing….whatever it is it’s a bit harder to come by at the moment.
If you are in a position where you can share the parenting or are in a support bubble the best thing you can be is honest and agree that everyone gets some undisturbed alone time if they need it. Take a bath, pamper yourself, read a book, listen to some music, go for a walk, watch TV. Sometimes 10 minutes of doing something like this is all you need to re-charge your batteries.
Time Together If you are isolated, live alone or have very little support then please do speak out. Check on elderly neighbours especially those who live alone. Sometimes they are too proud to admit that they are lonely and need help. I popped a card through the door of our elderly neighbours in the street with my phone number on and a little message so they didn’t feel embarrassed by my gesture.
Be sure to get in touch with local community workers. You will find they offer a wealth of information and will help you out if needed.
There is a fantastic app/website called www.nextdoor.co.uk This is a neighbourhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services.
The importance of mental health – Mental Health is a HUGE topic. It is no longer a topic of Taboo. Over the last couple of years there has been a huge turn in how we deal with mental health for both men and women. The key focus in any conversation is to ASK FOR HELP.
I’ve needed help myself at times and at that time I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t want to burden my family with my problems. There are so many organisations around who offer so much in way of help through talking therapies. CBT, Counselling, medication and much more. So please reach out.
Below are some organisations who are able to help.
Food & Groceries
If like me you are trying to avoid the supermarkets as much as possible then it is essential to plan all aspects of food and groceries in the house.
Here are some things that could help make a difference in the home – These will hopefully go some way to helping you save money, make your food last longer, spend less time in the shops and keep your sanity at bay.
Meal planning is a MUST. It offers so much structure to the week. With a meal plan in place everyone in the family knows what we are having and if there is something that someone doesn’t like then there is enough time to plan an alternative for that person.
When I need to meal plan, I will make a list of what I have in the freezers and cupboards and firstly see what meals can be made with what I already have in the house. Then, make a list of all the things you need to complete the meal plan for the week. By sticking to a list while you are shopping – this should save you money. It’s very easy to wonder around the supermarkets and be sucked in by there offers and deals but if you are strict enough to stick to your list. You will be able to stick to your budget.
Every month or two I will make a full inventory of what I have in my cupboards, freezers and fridge. I’ve started doing this more recently as we found ourselves shopping daily for meals assuming that we had nothing at home. It wasn’t until I dug deep into my chest freezer that we had so much more than we thought. Not only did we waste money on food we didn’t need but shopping daily is an expensive game!
A couple of years ago I met the lovely Suzanne Mulholland. AKA ‘The Batch lady’ at an event in Birmingham. Since then I followed her success and watched her grow. Her Youtube Channel is fantastic as is her book. She will teach you everything you need to know about batch cooking your meals.
I will sometimes spend a weekend in the kitchen, grab a couple of recipes from her book and make a load of meals for the chest freezer. The time I spend cooking these meals in bulk at the weekends means that I can meal plan with meals that are already made and saves me so much time during the week. I don’t have to stand and cook! I just take the meal from the freezer, defrost it and heat it up.
You can grab her book using the link below – it is literally my kitchen bible at the moment!
If, i do cook fresh meals, I will often make more than I need so that I can throw a meal in the freezer. It is so handy to have pre-prepared meals in the freezer just incase your meal plan doesn’t quite suite someones taste, you know they have meals to choose from that have already been cooked and frozen.
I highly recommend giving The Batch lady a follow. I have learnt SO much with regards to safe freezing, Safe defrosting, some fabulous recipes and much more.
It goes without saying that shopping online at the moment is probably the safest and easiest way to shop. You can shop from the comfort of your own home without having to wear an uncomfortable mask, your’e not having to wipe down trolleys and baskets.
Again, make a list of what you need and shop to your list. I find that I spend way less when shopping online as you’re not walking the aisles’ where things can catch your eye. I will simply search what I need and checkout.
Delivery slots can be difficult to find at the moment but most supermarkets will release delivery slots sporadically during the day so do keep trying. I also found a website called shoppingslot.co.uk. They will instantly search multiple supermarkets for available delivery and click & collect slots.
If you are struggling to afford food then please don’t go hungry. There is always help available
Get in touch with your local food bank. Food banks provide a minimum of three days’ emergency food to people in crisis, alongside additional support.
To find your nearest food bank you can visit the Trussell Trust website HERE
There may also be other organisations, volunteer services in your local area that are able to offer help. Speak to your local council, health advisor, school or support worker to find out what options are available to you.
Free School meals
If your child receives free school meals then the government have previously been continuing to support these with vouchers and/or food parcels when your child has been advised to stay home. Again, contact your local council and school to find out what provisions have been put in place.
These times are forever changing – Therefore i will continue to update this blog post with as much useful information as possible. I will post and update date at the top of the post so that when you come back you can check to see if it’s been updated since you last read.
Save this post in your favourites so you have it to hand when you need it.