When you add home schooling to all the other pressures at home, this has been a huge challenge for several families that I have spoken to. Juggling childcare and working during lockdown was already straining them; and adding home schooling into the mix has tipped some parents over the edge! The added responsibility is leading to sleep problems and crabbier stressed-out parents, which is no good for anyone.
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The problem is that we simply do not have enough time in our day to look after the kids, to feed them well, do the housework and juggle work commitments too – so adding in teaching or overseeing the children as well makes things super-hard.
I am very lucky that my kids are older and fairly independent now, and their university and schools have been very efficient at providing a structured timetable. However, friends with kids at other schools have said that that their children have been given more of a free rein and for some of them, it has got very out of hand in the past week or so. Chaos is king!
Parents with young children who are in early years education will naturally find it harder to get them to sit down for any length of time. Add in attention deficit or learning problems then this can seem an even more impossible task.
If you are feeling a bit frazzled and cannot see an end in sight, then here are some tips to help you weather the storm until your little darlings are safely back to school full-time, and you can finally get back into your normal term time routine.
- Go to bed nice and early and get as much sleep as your kids will allow! Staying up until the early hours catching up on housework may give you a tidier house but won’t be so kind on your mood the next day.
- Plan your day the night before – write down the essentials each family member needs to do the following day and aim to get through that list – anything else you achieve is a bonus.
- Get time outside every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes for a quiet cuppa outside the front door whilst the kids are occupied. Take some deep breaths and enjoy the peace and quiet.
- If you kids can’t concentrate on their schoolwork, then get them to do a household chore for 10 minutes. With this useful distraction they may well start back with their lesson or homework with greater enthusiasm. Win win!
- Cut back on the booze and caffeine – both are known to disrupt sleep. Caffeine after midday will most likely to still be in your system at midnight and only one unit of alcohol can disrupt up to an hour of deep good quality sleep. If you are tired, wired and ratty right now, these are the bad friends you should steer clear of.
- Mighty Magnesium – found in chocolate, nuts and leafy greens, magnesium is the ultimate chill pill, important for both sleep and dealing with life’s little ups and downs. Take this before bed and see if it makes a difference to how you sleep and how you manage as a parent.
- Herbal adaptogens – these are herbs that help to modulate stress response – for instance Ashwagandha which is an Indian herb helps to balance cortisol and dopamine and has been found in several studies to reduce anxiety and to aid depression in adults. We have found that Ashwagandha seems to be particularly effective when taken at night. Rhodiola a flowering plant from Europe, Asia, and North America has as similar action to Ashwagandha, and seems to be better taken in the morning. Again, it has been found to be very supportive for those going through acute stages of stress or feel their mood is quite volatile. Turmeric is a lovely apoptogenic spice, and again has been found to regulate cortisol response to the day-to-day challenges we face.
- GABA rich botanicals – Lemon Balm Extract, Passionflower, Theanine (from Green Tea) and Lion’s Mane mushroom are natural botanicals that can help to build a neurotransmitter called GABA that keeps us cool, calm and relaxed – think of GABA as your inner zen like Buddha! You can get food supplements like Bee Calm that combine these ingredients together which makes things nice and simple for you. Please avoid Lemon Balm if you are taking thyroid medication.
I hope that these tips help you become calmer and happier parents during lockdown and you can get your parenting mojo back. If you can put these little things in place now, then when your kids are back at school, then you will have the energy to hit the ground running and get all those dreams achieved when you finally have your day to yourself.
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- Magnesium and Depression
- The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review
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- A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults
- Nootropic-like Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera L.) in Mice
- Anxiolytic-antidepressant Activity of Withania Somnifera Glycowithanolides: An Experimental Study
- Rhodiola Rosea L. As a Putative Botanical Antidepressant
- Stress Management and the Role of Rhodiola rosea: A Review
- The Effects of Rhodiola Rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms
- Potential Antidepressant Effects of Scutellaria baicalensis, Hericium erinaceus and Rhodiola rosea
- Modulation of the γ-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) System by Passiflora Incarnata L
- Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods
- The Neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): A Possible Neuroprotective and Cognitive Enhancing Agent
- The Science of Tea’s Mood-Altering Magic