As I write this article, I am working from home, like many of you, whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage around the world. During a difficult time such as this, it would be easy to dwell on the many families who will be in crisis during this time, for example, those whose financial burdens weigh heavy with rent to pay on a furloughed salary or even with no job at all, or the horrifying situation where some people are confined to a small space with their abusers. However, it is important to remember these people in our thoughts and, if we pray, our prayers, whilst still remaining as positive as we can for our own sake and the sake of those who depend and rely on us.
It is with this in mind that I wanted to write an article thinking about how we can bring more love, kindness and positivity into our circumstances. In the face of negative news and downright scary statistics, it is important to spend time thinking about nicer things. The news has also highlighted some amazing stories of wonderful acts of kindness that people have done during the pandemic. For example, the postie who picked up a few groceries and left some fresh flowers for an older lady who was unable to leave her house, or the beauty therapist who has donated hand cream to her local hospital. Many people are shopping for elderly neighbours and supermarkets are prioritising deliveries for customers who are self-isolating. We are reminded, as we clap for the NHS on a Thursday night, that not all superheroes wear capes.
You might well be a superhero yourself! You could be reading this whilst still working in a school or childcare setting which remains open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children – thank you. You may have had to work from home or your workplace may have closed altogether. Whatever position you find yourself in, you are still able to influence others and help them to maintain a positive mindset and attitude during this outbreak. For example, when my children and I walk or cycle in our local area every couple of days, we always count the rainbows pasted in windows. This helps us to remember that even though we might have to stay away from our friends at the moment, we are part of a bigger community. On one route, we got up to 47 rainbows! This simple idea reminds us of the meme, ‘when it rains, look for rainbows’ and I am a true believer in silver linings.
For me, whilst I appreciate that there will be loss, sadness and hardship, spring 2020 is also about positivity. Scientists tell us that carbon emissions are falling sharply giving nature a breather, literally! The sheep from the Great Orme in North Wales, clearly got the memo as they charged through the empty streets of Llandudno, making the headlines! Many people have now found that their supposedly office-based jobs with fixed hours, can indeed continue flexibly from home, which will be good news for working parents and carers and society appears to now appreciate and value some of our lowest paid workers, for example, hospital cleaners or refuse collectors.
Parents are perhaps appreciating early years practitioners and teachers more, as they attempt to take on childcare or home-educate their children. This has allowed more parents to spend time with their children and time is something that many families were starved of. This is an opportunity for parents to really build a strong relationship and bond with their children - to really get to know them. In recent social media postings, I have suggested that parents who have suddenly found themselves home-schooling in a formal way shouldn’t even try to! Instead they need to find something their children want to learn about and begin some projects! Link with their children’s interests and everyone will learn together. If parents try to force more academic learning on their children at this time, it might strain their relationship and cause a few rows at home! As educators we can suggest that parents cook, garden, clean (!), play, create, do jigsaws, build with Lego, play board games, research some cool stuff, watch movies and talk with their children! Investigate those tricky questions that parents always get asked at bedtime… always at bedtime! When I remember my childhood, I remember taking all of the cushions off the sofa and building a den! So when the children of today look back at this time, let’s give them lots of amazing memories to remember of happiness, laughter and fun.
At this difficult time, we need to practise kindness, including being kind to ourselves. We all need time to adjust to this new way of life and many children might feel anxious, so most importantly we need to encourage parents and carers to reassure their children and make time to laugh and love. We can talk to the children about the virus in language that they will understand and help them to learn simple measures like handwashing, whilst sharing stories about the many acts of kindness. We can also encourage our children to be kind themselves – can they write to a friend, make a card for someone, videocall a grandparent or create a rainbow for their window?
Here are some other ideas of things to do during the pandemic to help you to remain positive:
- Create a wish-list jar. Whenever you’re unable to do something you want to do because of social distancing, write it on a note and pop it in the jar. Once these strict measures relax you can enjoy working your way through your wish-list.
- Write a letter or card to a friend containing some words of encouragement.
- Create and display your own rainbow and remember to count them if you go for a walk.
- Ring any vulnerable friends, neighbours or family members on a daily basis and reminisce about the good ‘ole days.
- Write a thank you note for your postal worker or refuse collector.
- Exercise daily to help eliminate the blues. There are many YouTube videos which can help you, for example, PE with Joe Wicks.
- Take up a new hobby, e.g. learn to dance, play a musical instrument or join the Great British Home Chorus.
- Avoid watching, listening to or reading the news more than once per day.
- Arrange fun social evenings with friends and family, e.g. do a quiz or have an online drinks party using a video app.
- Keep a thankfulness journal where you write something you are thankful for on a daily basis.
- Make time to watch that box set or read that book that you’ve been always meaning to and never had the time!
- Phone or arrange a video chat with a friend.
- Keep a scrapbook of random acts of kindness you find out about.
If you are lucky enough to be stuck in with your own children, spare a few moments to think of those who are still serving their community: nursery and school staff, medical workers, lorry drivers, grocery shop workers, delivery drivers, carers... too many great people to list. These are the people who are holding our country up at the moment. We can also do our bit. Celebrate them and celebrate the kindness and love demonstrated in society. So during this difficult time, remain positive and remember that this too shall pass.
About the author
Tamsin Grimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.
Tamsin has written two books – Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children and School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.