As the Mother of 3 children I must have heard countless times in the last few months "your children will adapt" "children can cope with any situation!" But can they? How has the UK lockdown directly and indirectly affected our children? Will there be lasting impact or is this just a small fragment of time within their lives?
Yes I agree children do adapt but so do we, this a human trait. We adapt but we also feel the change through emotion; frustration, anxiety, happiness and uncertainty. So surely our children are allowed to feel the same! Do we expect them to still be the perfectly behaved, well mannered held together individuals that we have striven to bring them up as, or should we allow for more outbreaks, tantrums and rebellion?
It really is a hard question to answer and I feel that they have taken on so much more than we initially anticipated at the beginning of lockdown.
For my 3 year old her life has altered drastically and been put 'on hold' while in lockdown. She was before enjoying uninterrupted days with either myself, her Grandma and Grandad or spending it with her childminder and friends. She is now home 7 days a week with her older siblings, both parents and is lacking the social interaction of a pre-schooler. She was eagerly awaiting the day after Easter when she would be allowed to go through the black archways of the school into Nursery class. Yes I hear what you're saying, this isn't so bad, and in the grand scheme of things it's really not... but in her little world a lot has changed. We have seen a huge decline in her toilet training, and when I say huge it's like rewinding the clock 18 months!!!
Our 6 year old seems the least affected but I think this has more to do with his happy go lucky kind of attitude to life than his ability to adapt. He will take it or leave it. He is now enjoying being back at school in his social bubble!
The most affected has been our 9 year old, not in behaviour or temperament but how the whole social side of her life has been effected. These are delicate years with puberty around the corner and the lack of social interaction with her own peers could come at a cost. We have been home for approximately 13 weeks now, she has spoken to friends on FaceTime however being at the age that she's not required to return school; will this be a prolonged isolation for her, and other age groups? I am constantly asked "When am I allowed back to school?" "How come *friend* can go to school and I'm not allowed back?" "If I don't go back until September I won't have been in school for half a year!"
Our children are clever and as much as we shield them from the outside world it inevitably seeps through the cracks and shows itself in many different ways.
When you look at your children and they are weeing on the floor for the 10th time, drawing on the walls with a crayon or crying for seemingly no reason, we must remind ourselves that yes they can adapt but that has consequences. I have days when I am on top of the world and get every job done but also days where I could lay in bed and cry. Our babies have these emotions too and they can't aways express them in the same way we do as adults.
In short I do believe children can adapt to most situations but to be mindful of the consequences and how we deal with them. Lockdown had left so many of us in such different situations and we have had to find many creative ways of adapting our parenting skills to make the new family life achievable.
Bring on the paddies, cuddle more and give our children a break!
We are in this together!