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My Top Ten Things For Getting Through the Covid-19 Lockdown:

1) Create A New Routine:

Children thrive on routine, and to be honest – so do I. Without a routine I tend to flounder, panic and feel very overwhelmed! I let myself wallow for a day, and then on Wednesday night I sat down and I drafted a new routine for us while we’re stuck in this situation!

I am not expecting us to follow it down to the minute, and I am certainly not expecting everything to happen every single day; what it does for me, is anchor me. When chaos ensues, and there are children having melt-downs, mess through-out my house and dishes all over my kitchen, I can remind myself that tomorrow we’ll go back to the basics and start again with our new routine. I will rally the troops, and we can start fresh, but this time I will know where to start – it makes me feel more in control, and we all need a bit of control in our lives when everything outside is so out of our control.

2) Meal Plan:

This is ESSENTIAL, especially for those of us dealing with allergies! I know we’re being told that the supermarkets are not running low on food, and that we don’t need to stockpile, and that the supermarkets will remain open throughout this time; all very comforting, unless you are dealing with allergies, and there is no safe food left. We can’t rely on just buying whatever is leftover on the shelves, as this could, in some cases, mean life or death. I am grateful it isn’t for us, however, my husband gets very sick on both gluten and dairy, as does my son – while it may not be life or death, it is something we’re still not prepared to deal with. So I did stock up on our essential items only – not normal food, but on dairy-free and gluten-free milk and butter, and other such items that we need and use every day.

But now, now it is my turn – I have to come up with nutritious and safe food that my family can eat, and plan the best use of the food we do have available to us, so we don’t have to keep making trips out to the supermarket. I tend to stockpile anyway, as we live in a small town and don’t have access to everything the cities offer; so we have plenty to work with.

A few things which are worth mentioning:

1) I ordered 10kg bags of GF Flour and GF Bread Mix from the Gluten-Free Store and will be making all our bread and snacks over the coming weeks, and we will all be eating it – saves numerous trips to the supermarket for bread and biscuits (and whatever else jumps into your trolley). It also saves money – a loaf of GF bread costs $8 on average in the supermarkets, but making your own brings the cost down to approximately $4 per loaf, even taking into account the power usage.

2) Think “cook once – eat twice” when planning, it takes some pressure off you, especially if you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen. For example, I have made my ‘Sticky Salmon & Pasta‘ for dinner today, but I added a whole heap of extra vegetables to bulk it out. This way there is enough for two main meals. However, I know not everyone likes leftovers – so the second meal can be made into a pie, or even mini pies (if you have a pie maker), or a pasta bake (pop into a casserole dish, sprinkle the top with cheese if you can tolerate it, or mix a cup of GF breadcrumbs with 1 tsp of smoked paprika and some dried herbs of choice, sprinkle over the top and bake at 180oC for 25 minutes – until it is bubbling and the top is a lovely golden brown).

3) Bulking meals out with vegetables has a two-fold reward:
A = It ups the vegetable content of your meal, thus improving your immunity and health (and your families as well).
B = It decreases the cost of the meal – by using one salmon steak, and a packet of GF pasta for one meal, you’d be looking at quite a significant cost per meal, about $5 or so, but by bulking it out and doubling your meal size, you’d be cutting your cost down to about $3 per meal, not even taking into account the time savings.
C = You don’t just have to bulk them out with vegetables, you can use lentils, chickpeas, beans and other pulses and grains to bulk meals out. Just as nutritious, and just as cheap (or even cheaper) than the vegetable option!

4) We have chosen to change our main meal from tea time to lunchtime – it is better for your metabolism, and takes the pressure off the end of the day. Because we’re not able to do our normal daily activities, quite often it is going to mean that we’re going to be more sedentary. Eating in the middle of the day gives our bodies a chance to use the energy up in the afternoon, rather than store it as fat while we sleep.

3) Get Outside As Much As Possible:

So while we can’t go about our daily life, we are still able to get outside to exercise with our family, or solitary. Use this time to make the most of it – get outside as much as possible, I have two walks scheduled into our days, giving the kids and us something other than our 4 walls (or fences) to look at.

There is a movement on Facebook encouraging families to put a teddy in a window that faces the road, so people can count them as they walk… even in our small town this is happening, and despite my kids being almost too old for this kind of thing, they are still looking and counting and trying to beat the previous days’ numbers! We try to do different walks each day, giving us a chance to explore our neighbourhood, and find places we haven’t bothered to look at before… we also take turns taking the kids out, so I will take the kids in the morning, while my hubby has a run or just has some space at home (his choice), and in the afternoon he will take them, while I get to choose what I do. If you haven’t managed to fit exercise into your daily life previously, let this be the opportunity to change that – make it a priority, for your sanity if nothing else, and get out as often as you possibly can!

4) Make Sure Everyone Is Doing Their Bit:

One of the routines I set in place was a housework schedule, and I made sure everyone was doing their bit (within their limits of course). With all 4 of us home all the time – things like cleaning the bathroom and toilet, and vacuuming have become daily chores and I refuse to be the household slave, and just pick up after everyone else… It would have built up significant resentment and frustration, and not given me the opportunity to do anything else for myself! So at 9am every morning, we all spend half an hour on ‘our chores’, and we clean and tidy the house for the day; you might find the evening suits you better – make it work for you and your family, but whatever you do, make sure you spread the load.

5) Enlist As Much Online Support As Possible:

When I say enlist support online – I don’t mean people power, I mean ‘App Power’, because the whole world is essentially in the same situation we are here in New Zealand, you will find websites all over the place offering their services for free these days, or at least at a greatly discounted cost to normal. Our kids’ school have sent home newsletters with a whole heap of websites available for online teaching while the kids are home, and I am getting emails every day with great deals and offers for free services.

And of course – don’t forget all our recipes are now free,
so make sure you pop in for inspiration and new ideas!

6) Stay Connected:

It is of utmost importance to stay connected with ‘your tribe’, whether this is your family, your friends, your work colleagues – whoever your biggest cheerleaders are. Almost everyone has a mobile phone and access to the internet; so ring, text, face call, arrange online ‘meetings’ and keep in touch. They’re in the same boat as you and will be as desperate for connection as you are and it will be so important in the weeks ahead, you will need the support and understanding, as there will be days when this situation will push you almost to the edge. Ring someone and just vent… it’s okay to need this yourself, as well as offering to be the listening ear for others. We all need someone to lean on at some point!

Under this point, it is also very important to remember those in our community who are alone and vulnerable as well. We are ringing an elderly gentleman every day and will be his feet for groceries etc, as well as my Mum, and a neighbour who is also alone. I have also reached out to some other older couples in the community whom I know have chosen to self-isolate. It not only is important to them, but also us – it helps us feel more connected to the community, and like we’re making a difference.

Another aspect of connection is the children – they will be missing their schoolmates, and regular contact with other kids, albeit through sports groups, after school activities or just day to day school routines. My daughter’s class has got an online classroom going, and they ‘meet’ every day at 9am with their teacher and chat about the school work to be completed that day, it is a highlight for her and makes her feel like some aspect of her life is almost ‘normal’. I have heard her having ‘chats’ with classmates at other times throughout the day, and while we monitor her pretty tightly, so we know whom she is talking to at all times, it is lovely to hear her chatting and giggling with friends… a normal part of her life!

7) Look After Yourself:

As parents, we are always putting our kids and our spouse first – we need to make sure we also make time for ourselves, this is just as stressful on us, and as the saying goes; “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others”, or in the end, everyone suffers when you crash and burn. So when you create your new routine – make sure to put the time in there where you can go and pursue something you want to do, whether that means hiding in your room to read, or going for some solitary exercise, listening to a podcast, having a long bubble bath; whatever works for you! Schedule it in, and make sure you take the time to do it!

8) Be Creative And Try New Things:

This is the perfect opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do, but never had the time to do; you want to learn to draw – find a YouTube Tutorial and start teaching yourself! So many things at our fingertips these days, and so much free content online; you could pretty much teach yourself anything these days, make the most of the time you have, and dig in deeper.

Here are some ideas to try:
– Learn some new dance moves with the kids
– Take a creative writing course
– Teach yourself to cook or bake, and include the kids
– Learn a new language together
– Read some books you’ve been meaning too

9) Stay In Tune With The Kids:

Right now, they are as scared as we are – however, as adults we can process it much better, they don’t understand what is happening, let alone how to process it! And every child is different, it is important to understand how your child(ren) processes these things, and meet them where they are at.

Our two are responding quite differently to each other, but one thing I am trying to do daily with them, to help them work through the changes, is to write up a journal every night. We’re living through history, and one day our great-grandchildren will be studying this in their history classes, so I think having the kids write about it from their point of view would be so valuable. They’re old enough to look back and remember it, however, they’ll be processing it as adults then, and knowing what happens – to have it written down in their own words as children throughout the process, will be such an amazing resource for them. It is also so helpful for us to see exactly what is going on in their minds… I am prompting them as to how and what to write currently still, but I am hoping that it will become more natural to them in time, and they will start to go more in-depth with how they’re feeling about the changes happening to the world around them.

10) Remember – You Can Control Your Responses:

I was listening to a podcast this morning, and this is exactly what she was talking about (it had nothing to do with Covid-19, but is so relevant right now). We are in complete control of our reactions and responses to everything going on around us – we may not have control over much else, but we do have control over us. We can choose to see this time as a ‘glass half full’ or a ‘glass half empty’ scenario, we can make the most of the time or we can complain, grizzle and moan about it. Let’s be ‘glass half full’ people, and use this time as a chance to get to know our children better, have more family time, pursue a subject we have been meaning to forever, start new routines, change our habits and just shake things up a little.

Our kids also follow our examples – if we’re going around grumping about it, they will also find ways to make it a negative experience. However, we have the opportunity to teach them how to use this to their advantage, let us teach our children how to see the positive in every situation and use it to better themselves.

But whatever you take from this, always remember to be kind!

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