This 2020 has been quite a challenge so far and after three months of lockdown in Brussels and a kinda of weird summer (with no actual holidays for me) we are fastly approaching to the beginning of the new school year. How (and if) are we organizing our schedule? It would be possible to foresee and plan knowing the unpredictable future that is ahead of us?
Honestly, the thought of the new school year was not a priority since a month ago. Maybe we were a bit too naive thinking about a quite calm beginning of the new school year. The situation in Brussels was calmer in June, the kids were back to school (and the nurseries never really closed in Belgium) so we thought that, in the worst case, they would have kept the “bulle” of 10-12 kids per class.
Then suddenly, a new raising of the number of the cases in the city opened the door to another (maybe) possible lockdown or an alternate closure of schools and this tought punched us in the face. We are amongst the ones who were so lucky to still be able to work from home during the lockdown but despite that, we had our troubles in balancing work schedule and kids at home with no family for asking help to or supporting us.
So, in order to keep ourselves sane and to treasure the past experience, I wrote a to be list (or “tout doux list” = very sweet list) on how are we trying to cope with the uncertainty of this new 2020-2021 school year with a 4 yo and a 13 months baby.
- Find a reliable babysitter on a fixed based that can help us out in whatever circumstances. Even though everything will be fine, we will still having an extra person helping us for a couple of hours 2 or 3 afternoons per week. Need to go to grocery shopping and can’t think about having the two kids, wearing a mask, try to stay in the 30 minutes, think about the meals and buy accordingly and carry at least 2 bags while paying attention at the old one wanting to cross the road alone with her scooter? Then, hell yes, a babysitter will be a priority for this 2020-2021.
- Try not to be so anxious if you can’t really understand what’s going on. This is a must for me. I am so annoyed by the lack of communication from our daughter’s school that I called them only to have a bothered and useless “Madame, we will be doing our best to keep them safe” as a reply. Thanks a lot. So, in this case, as we can’t really oblige an entire school system to go as we wished for, it would be way better for our mental health to keep sane and avoid any kind of useless stress. I keep repeating that we will be able to respond to any kind of situation in the best way possible for us. We did it in the past and we will do it again, if necessary.
- Find (and enroll) in a yoga/singing/box/bookclub/language/whatever class! Do not commit the mistake of thinking that in case of another lockdown you will be the same as in the first. You won’t. I won’t. So maybe, find a nice way of dealing with stress and with the uncertainty of the situation while exchanging with other people outside your home walls, would be highly recommended. If everything will be ok, you will have a new skill by the end of next year and new friends, otherwise you will keep your brain busy with other than work/family needs/coronastuff. Make sure the class you will choose has the chance to be held online as well.
- Build your own bubble of 5/10. This has been so far the most important, and yet obvious, discovery of our lockdown. As I constantly repeat, we are alone here so no family around at least in a ray of 300 km, the firsts available being in The Netherlands. There area lot of families like us in Brussels and we managed to know a few during the last two years. After the first lockdown, we decided bilaterally to take a “blood oath” with one of them. They have two kids as well, more or less of the same age as ours, so also the needs are similar. We became “cousins in law” and that worked during this summer. So, hopefully, we will keep doing it.
- Stop acting as you are in control of what’s happening but try instead of doing small acts that can help you saying to yourself you are doing something for this planet. We have a small garden in our rented house so I started a randomly permaculture vegetable garden (with the help of my daughter) to avoid buying some items like potatoes, onions, herbs, ginger and to have at least the illusion of growing a part of our food while educating my kids to respect the nature and to care for the planet. We started a compost as well to have free and homemade organic fertilizer and to reduce our organic waste. We will be maybe starting to share it with our neighbors as well if it’s too much for us and it will start a new way of mutual help activity.
Do you think this list would be applicable for you as well? I’d love to hear more of your coping strategies for the new year.