Mental Health

Lockdown lessons

While challenging, remote learning and being locked down together provided a great opportunity for families to bond together – and it turns out that not just the children were learning. Parents were also schooled in what makes their children tick – or is that TikTok?

Many parents were thrust into teaching their child or children when the country went into lockdown, and almost as many found it difficult to be both the parent and teacher their child needed. From the testimonials we compiled, it’s clear that while it wasn’t all smooth sailing, parents and children learnt to navigate these rough waters and teach each other something in the process. If you feel overwhelmed by parenting, it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional, but perhaps these stories will also inspire you.

‘I want to homeschool’

Sue Cumming, mom to Sam (6) and Katie (3)

‘Sam started Grade R this year and really wasn’t enjoying it. He had a teacher that shouted a lot. Lockdown helped me realise how happy the kids were at home. It gave me permission to start thinking about homeschooling, which I’d considered before. Now we’ve decided to take the bold step to try it as a family and we’re so excited about this new journey.’

Sam (6)

‘I like doing school at home. It’s fun for me!’

‘I don’t want to homeschool!’

Tracey Ashington, mom to Cami (13)

‘Lockdown validated my decision not to homeschool my daughter. I saw first-hand how much she benefits from being in a school environment. She feels safer in a structured environment. She likes having a schedule. That structure gives her security. I found that during lockdown I was tough on her because I thought she wasn’t keeping up with her schoolwork. Because she was staying with her dad in Joburg, I assumed balls were being dropped and I would phone her and blast her. It put a lot of strain on our relationship. Eventually her father organised a tutor for Cami and that helped a lot.

‘Cami loves making TikTok videos. Every evening she would show me her moves while I was making supper. She taught me so much about dancing and music. It helped us relax together. It was something fun she could do even though she couldn’t do gymnastics or horse riding.’

Cami (13)

‘My mom stressed me out. She made me hate doing schoolwork because she got so cross. It was horrible. I much prefer being at school.’

‘Routine is your friend’

Ruth Odigie, mom to Mark (12) and Jesse (4)

‘For the first few weeks of lockdown we were permanently tired [and] mooched around in unwashed pyjamas, and days blurred into each other. The simplest tasks became an existential crisis: Why wake up? Why do laundry? Why wash my hair? Then we started building in some structure and that really helped. We would wake up by 7am, start the day with tea and reading, and then get some schoolwork done. In the afternoon we would enjoy bonding together by building a fort, painting or making explosions.’

‘Green time beats screen time’

Ken Goulding, dad to Ethan (13) and Bryce (10)

‘We went for long walks together as a family. We got to appreciate the miraculous beauty of nature in a way our busy lives had not allowed us to before. We also found new interests as a family, like puzzles, and most importantly, we got to evaluate our pre-COVID-19 lives and make changes for quality over quantity. Every night before bed we each listed our highlights from the day so that the boys could see that even in challenging times, you can find things to be thankful for.’

‘We learnt to get organised’

Siphokazi Khumalo, mom to Sisipho (10) and Musa (5)

‘Sisipho gained so much independence and organisational skills during lockdown, as she had to learn to manage her day and achieve her goals by completing given tasks. We are seeing good results from that.’

‘We learnt to save money and help others’

Melanie Taylor, mom to Kirsten (25) and grandmother to Asher (3) and Luka (6 months)

‘The external force of the pandemic meant we couldn’t go out and this taught us that we didn’t have to spend money to have fun. We also realised that we were blessed with more than we really needed and to share with those less fortunate. I learnt to stop and listen to my kids when they talk and to not always want to control everything. The pandemic magnified that the simple way of living brings a calmness we have long forgotten.’

Life Mental Health is a leading provider of private psychiatric services with nine dedicated facilities in four provinces across the county. It’s always a good idea to consult a mental health professional if any area of your life feels overwhelming.

The content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not cover every aspect of mental health. Consult a doctor or your nearest emergency unit if you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s mental health. The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a qualified healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.