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How to avoid lockdown meltdown

Wherever we are in the world, we’re all in this crazy shit together

Alanis Morrisette could have penned entire verses about the irony of our current situation: while lockdowns, quarantines, self-isolation and social distancing mean we’re more physically alone than we’ve ever been, we’re also more unified: wherever we are in the world, and whatever our social status or family situation, we’re all facing this same surreal situation together.

But that’s enough amateur philosophy. What we moms really need to know is, how the crapping hell do we survive this stifling situation with our sanity intact and without smacking our loved ones in the face with a mop?

Suddenly, there is no school, no daycare, no nights out while the kids are packed off to granny and grandad. Hordes of us are pulling double duty as breadwinners and teachers, without the blessed relief of a night out or just some kid-free time, and with the added worries about how to pay the soaring bills, and how to stop the kids eating us out of house and home as they stave off boredom by round-the-clock eating and mess-making. Help is at hand though – from online cocktail parties to virtual PE teachers – and we’ve rounded up the best freebies, tips, and home isolation hacks to help moms the world over keep their cool.

So take a few deep breaths and read on – it just might save your sanity.

Cool Mom tip: Don’t worry too much about trying to recreate the entire school curriculum at home, it’s going to be a whole lot of pressure for everybody. Try to crack on with any work that the school assigns, and sneak bits of maths, reading etc into daily life as much as possible.

1. PE With Joe Seriously, this Joe Wicks guy is a lifesaver.

Already famous in the UK for his YouTube HIIT workouts and his healthy eating cookbooks, he could easily be the most irritating person on the planet if it wasn’t for his down-to-earth demeanour, and the fact that he is now taking on phys ed duties for the entire planet with his live PE classes every Monday to Friday at 9am (UK time – can be streamed later if you’re in a different time zone).

Millions of kids from Africa to Australia and Brazil have been tuning in, and some schools have even made his PE classes part of the home school curriculum. Get them doing this every morning to stop your kids bouncing off the walls, and alleviate some of the mom guilt at letting them sit on their butts watching TikTok videos at any given opportunity. for hours at a time. 

2. World of Walliams

Comedian-turned-kids’ writer David Walliams is a Roald Dahl-esque master of creating appealingly gross characters, and kids aged around eight to early teens lap up his books (names like Gangsta Granny, The World’s Worst Teachers, and Slime give a clue to the off-colour humour that has kids cackling like Roald Dahl’s witches…) Anyway, his World of Walliams website has an astonishing amount of free resources for all ages, from daily ‘elevenses’ chapter readings, to downloadable reading comprehension exercises that will sneak in some ‘proper’ schoolwork in a way that most kids won’t complain about. It helps to have read some of the books first, of course

3. Kids’ Books Free on Audible

elsewhere in the world of books, Amazon has made hundreds of its kids’ audiobooks available for free – all can be streamed instantly on a laptop, phone or other device, so that might give your ears a break from bloody Baby Shark.

4. Free language classes for kids

lockdown fever got them speaking in tongues? Try these free daily language classes with Busuu , and get them cracking an actual language instead

Cool Mom Tip: Don’t beat yourself up about binge-watching Netflix series or having ‘Movie Nights’ every night of the week. If ever there was an excuse for chilling out with the kids and a massive bowl of snacks, this is it.

5. Amazon Prime Video

now’s as good a time as any to sign up for a month’s free trial with Amazon’s streaming service. Titles vary according to your location, but is dependably strong on kid-friendly series’ and feel good family movies that you can hunker down and watch.

6. Keep the social in social distancing

Zoom has suddenly surged in popularity as everybody from school teachers and bosses to tech-phobic families suddenly gets to grips with its free video conferencing technology. If that’s a bit staid for a Friday night, new apps like House Party are allowing friends and family to get together for virtual drinks – why the hell not put on your makeup and heels for a socially distant cocktail hour? Raise your cocktail-making game with something like this fancy-looking kit that looks way pricier than its $14.99 price tag.


Box Out: Avoiding Teen Traum

Generally speaking, teens (and their parents) are probably in for the toughest ride right now. They’re unlikely to be cheered by a ‘fun’ online maths game or a grinning online PE teacher, and while the thought of skipping school for months might sound appealing in theory, the reality of absent friends and being stuck indoors with the fam is a recipe for a stressfest of epic proportions.

Teens, especially those due to sit final exams this summer,  will be facing very real questions about schooling, while struggling to contain all those rampant hormones and anxieties about how this whole thing will pan out. If there’s one word that can help here, it’s ‘ask’ – ask them how they want to organise their schedule, ask them if they feel like a pyjama day or a fabulous outfit day, ask them why they think they need to stay at home (some might blame parents rather than the virus itself); ask them what their biggest fears are and try to address these; ask them what they are most looking forward to when this is over, and if there are any positives they will take away from it. 

If they are going into full brat mode, don’t punish them by taking away their devices – all their socialising will be done online, so double check their online safety settings and point them in the direction of the many social media challenges that can provide a spot of light relief.

Be there for them, and keep checking in on how they are feeling, but don’t take offence if they want to socially distance themselves from their family for vast swathes of time. If they don’t want to listen to any parental advice, these tips from UNICEF might help


7. Get Your Pamper Game On

If ever we’ve needed a bit of pampering,it’s now. So it sucks all the more that there’s absolutely no way we’ll be getting to splash out on any spa or beauty treatments for the foreseeable (quite frankly, the current state of my hair and nails makes me quite grateful for social distancing and forgiving camera angles…). But there’s nothing to stop you and the fam from setting a spa scene – light some scented candles (if you’re in the market, this ‘Peace and Tranquility’ one, ($10.99) looks pretty flaming appropriate right now…), dig out your softest towels and robes, and give each other as many pampering treatments as you fancy. Get everyone to join in with a home makeover and be thankful you don’t have to leave the house looking like you’re off to audition for Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

Cool Mom Tip: It can actually be quite calming to schedule your days so everybody knows what they ought to be doing. Set out time for work/schoolwork/lunch breaks/exercise/outdoor time, downtime, video calls, etc – it doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it can help bring some sense of order to the chaos. And those with kids old enough to grasp the concept can have scheduled ‘Off Duty Mom’ time, when we are off the clock and not to be called on for food supplies, maths help, or anything else. A ‘you used it, you wash it’ approach to dishes can help, too. 

8. You Better Work, Bitch

while it’s absolutely freaking fine to let go of any major athletic goals (pretty much all summer races, triathlons etc are cancelled so worrying about your mileage and pace needn’t be much of a concern…) it will do mind, body and soul good to crack on with some form of home work out, and whether you fancy some booty-boosting dance, soul-soothing yoga or heart healthy cardio, there’s no shortage of options online.

A good motivation tactic is to sign up for a 30 day challenge, and many sites that usually charge for these are currently offering them for free: DoYogaWithMe.Com has some of the best vinyasa teachers on the planet and is offering 2 months’ free access to all its premium content (including excellent 30 day challenges at all levels and for all styles of yoga, plus pilates);

Hardcore cardio and strength training enthusiasts can access HIIT-heavy instructor Millionaire Hoy’s HoyPro 500 calorie-busting 30 Day Challenge for free during lockdown, and there’s even a 7-day barre challenge on Amazon Prime Video. There’s a good, comprehensive round up of free workouts here. While many workouts require no equipment, pretty much all of them need a yoga/exercise mat such as this decent value one

Cool Mom Tip: Use outside time to relax, don’t try to force the kids into gruelling exercise. If you are allowed daily exercise time use it as a chance to enjoy each other’s company away from all the work/schoolwork/housework pressures of home. Take a walk or a bike ride, go for an isolated picnic, look at the flowers, breathe. 

9. Free online learning

Work the body, work the brain – there’s a slew of online learning content cropping up for free during lockdown. Searching free online courses reveals a treasure trove of language learning opportunities and even free college courses, but our hands down favourites have to be these wine-learning courses. Another excuse to crack open the vinho!

10. It’s Tidy Up Time

If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to Kondo the hell out of your home, now is definitely the time to do it.  Binge watch the clutter-clearing ninja on Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, or read her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, for inspo before you crack on with the minimalism. 

Cool Mom Hack: This South African dad’s Lockdown Tuckshop Idea is a stone cold winner, and there are other similar schemes doing the rounds on social media. Essentially, kids have a set amount of money (real or virtual) to ‘spend’ each day, at a ‘Tuck Shop’ that is open at set times.

As well as stopping them chomping through a fortnight’s worth of quarantine supplies in one afternoon, it helps with maths skills and money management. Offering tuck shop spending money in return for household tasks is an optional extra, and moms who fear they might be in danger of eating and drinking their way through their own food and booze supplies might even want to sign up themselves. 


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