'Doing things differently': Melbourne mum reveals how she's coping with lockdown 2.0

Photo: Jane Rocca and her kids / Supplied
Photo: Jane Rocca and her kids / Supplied 

Remote learning has once again made its way back to our kitchen table, my study and the kids' bedrooms, but this time we're doing things differently in our home. 

When our hotspot suburb of North Melbourne went into lockdown a week before the rest of Melbourne, we already had the feeling Term 3 would begin this way. And judging by our State's COVID-19 infection rates, it could very well be this way for the rest of the term too.

Melbourne's lockdown 2.0 is a reboot of the previous time we found ourselves at home, with the added benefit of hindsight - but it still comes packaged with trepidation.

It feels harder this time around but we're approaching it with a clearer idea of how things roll and writing our own rules this time.   

I came out of the first lockdown with a health scare and a six-week recovery that has changed my life and the way I live it. I knew I had to take lockdown 2.0 a little differently.

My eldest daughter also felt a sense of hesitation with the news of remote learning being our way of life; knowing full well I'd be her teacher, her Mum and a teacher to her younger sister while their Dad worked 12-hour days in hotspot suburbs x 2. 

Our daughter craved more hugs, more assurance we'd be okay and kept reminding me her upcoming 10th birthday would be in isolation like mine was in March. 

Photo: A return to remote learning. Supplied

Photo: A return to remote learning. Supplied

This time, instead of trying to work, juggle two children's Zoom schedules and bitch about it to my partner and friends, I would reset the mental load and stop alerts to my phone with daily COVID-19 statistics for upbeat Spotify playlists and burn candles for daytime ambience. 

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What I found when I turned off news headlines and ditched watching Premier Daniel Andrews' press conferences during school hours, that my children stopped asking the freaked out stream of questions of when will this nightmare be over. They started to sound more hopeful.

I also decided we would start meditating once a day too. It's 15 minutes together, sprawled on the bed with my iPhone's Simply Being app doing the guided rest. 

I have dabbled in meditation over the decades, but never really thought of doing it with the kids as a family ritual. I often turned to it as my self-help tool of choice away from them, but realised they needed to be in on the act too. 

During the last lockdown there were tears [mostly by me]; but I managed to pull myself out by laughing. My sense of humour did save me and it'll have to again.

But I do remember a counsellor once telling me [after my younger brother died 20 years ago] that when I feel I'm losing it; just picture some of your favourite dead people sitting in the room with you and watching your meltdown. It's really embarrassing and that method still works for me.

I also accepted it's okay to want to write a music story over teaching my Grade 1 how to read and choose to read a rock biography by Kathy Valentine from the Go-Gos over explaining bridging to 10 in Math to my Grade 4.  Time for me is okay.

Some days we happily entered our remote classroom with a smile, managing our schedule without angst. Other days there was tension; but we have a pact that if we can finish the school day ahead of time, we have free time together. And my kids know if we need a mental health day, then we will take it.

I've always been a to-do list person, but now my home life is all about these lists too. I make sure I have a written schedule sorted from the night before so I don't miss any important Zooms. There was one day last week my six-year-old skipped a language class because it was hard enough teaching English let alone attempting another. It felt okay to say no.

The greatest gift I can give my children right now in lockdown 2.0 is show them that being the best or fastest to finish your work is irrelevant, but being kind to yourself will do wonders for a mind ready to learn.  

Those mental lists and life demands will keep on coming, long after covid-19 has left the building, but my kids will hopefully be able to take it all in and exhale with a sigh of relief their Mum showed them the art of breathing and reminded herself how important is it to just be.