The five ‘C’s of successful(ish) lockdown parenting

Jennifer Corcoran from Patient Claim Line outlines how she has managed the different needs of her three children and work during lockdown.

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Jennifer Corcoran is an Audit and Compliance Executive at Patient Claim Line. Jennifer’s specialism in this area has her drafting policies, auditing processes and investigating complaints; and ensuring that risks to the business are managed. Here Jennifer explains how she currently balances remote working in a high-pressure legal position, with home-schooling her four children.

Earlier this year we were all faced with unprecedented change to our everyday routines, as the country went into lockdown indefinitely. I am lucky that I have a desk-based job and have been able to work safely from home. My co-parent was already largely working from home, but used to travel regularly.

However, the lockdown restrictions meant that childcare for my youngest two children stopped immediately. Before the changes, my ten year old attended school every day, with afterschool club twice a week, and tea with my parents twice a week on the days they also looked after my youngest – who turned two in May. My youngest also benefited from a place at nursery and a trip to her second set of grandparents once a week before the lockdown was enforced.

The restrictions affected my older children as well. My 17 year old had to stop attending college (although online lectures and study groups were made available), but still could work part time in a supermarket; and my 19 year old was shielding with my parents for support.

At first the new structure seemed a little overwhelming, but we have got through it with the following principles:

1. Control

Maybe this should be about letting go of control, or comparisons. Lockdown has been a great lesson in controlling what you can, and accepting what you can’t. Examples where we have maintained routine have been (mostly) sticking to our usual wake up and bed times and having weekly topics for our version of home school. One week we learned about ‘chocolate’ and this was the constant topic for that week. However, the learning was flexible as we could discuss the geography of where it is from, the history of the chocolate bar, taste testing, and making a chart of favourites. We also accept that you have to do what works best for your family.

2. Communication

Managing the supervision of the smaller two children has been a team effort only made possible by communicating with each other at home, and with our respective managers. A family WhatsApp group has been a great tool. It can be hard to remember who (and when) those essential meetings and lectures are scheduled for, as the usual timestamps for the passing of the day begin to change. We already had this in place for the wider family, but adapted it to an in-house version during lockdown. It has also been used as a substitute for a group shopping trip, with requests collated, and acceptable substitutions noted.

We have also made sure we ask one another how we are getting on, and listen, so we can continue to do the things that work and evaluate what doesn’t. This will be ever more important as the boundaries change again moving forward.

3. Community

Keeping in contact with ‘the outside world’ has been really valuable. Many photos and videos have been shared with closer friends and relatives. I have continued to have catch ups relating to my hobby of amateur dramatics via Zoom, the 10 year old has video called friends and the seventeen-year-old attends remote youth groups.

Primary school has ensured that teachers call around to say hi to the kids, and continue to assure parents that there is no pressure to home school to any particular standard, so not to worry too much.

4. Celebration

Looking on the bright side has been an absolute tonic. Do I find it a bit stressful when my youngest is screeching for me during a team meeting? You bet I do. Is thinking of three meals a day for them all a pain at times? Absolutely. But it is also a blessing to have the resources to feed the tribe, and to be able to join them for lunch. We have also been grateful to have built back up to safely distanced socialising, and know this resilience will be beneficial in the future.

5. Compassion

It is not always going to be idyllic, and there will be tough days. Parenting can come with so much guilt, but we are all doing the best we can. This applies as we emerge into something resembling our pre-lockdown life too. Take a breath, and be kind to yourself and each other.

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