My thoughts are with those who are on the front line, are sick, have financial hardships and have lost people to this pandemic.

I’m writing this article to:

  • Help others with young kids who are working from home
  • Help ourselves retain perspective and to cope with the bad days
  • Gather data and make a decision on whether our kids should go back to school
  • Take the positive away from this situation

Scott Hanselman, developer, speaker and all round good guy who has kids, tweeted this on remote working during this time

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It was good to know other people are finding times tough. It helped me.

Facts and Research

I like to keep up to date with what is really happening with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the UK I keep an eye on:

coronavirus.data.gov.uk which has charts I trust (as much as possible)

Google graphs - updated frequently See trends in different countries

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Short term forecasts - academic updated around 18th May This looks promising and fairly accurate so far.

BBC News Article - 24th May “If your risk of dying was very low in the first place, it still remains very low. As for children, the risk of dying from other things - cancer and accidents are the biggest cause of fatalities - is greater than their chance of dying if they are infected with coronavirus.”

From UK Research and Innovation’s 11th May article about children under the age 18

Article on 22nd May by Sage Committee suggesting the longer we wait, the safer it will be

Don’t Panic

Some things we can control, other things we just have to be smart, so:

Don’t Panic

Arthur C Clark said Douglas Adams’ use of “Don’t Panic” was perhaps the best advice that could be given to humanity.

We are a working family

  • My wife has an 80% job at university as a lecturer in Conservation Biology
  • I recently started my own company as a freelance/contract C# developer and to develop my own SaaS products
  • Daughter Mia is 5 and is in reception year at school
  • Son Henry is nearly 4 and was at nursery 4 days a week and with my wife staying home on Fridays

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2 swimming pools :-)

We live in the South East of England in a small village, with a small garden, and good access to the outdoors.

Good Things

  • Being outside with the kids more

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Looks idyllic… just before a meltdown happened as it was ‘too hot’.. all happy 2 minutes later.

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Just being outside, messing around, eating watermelon, looking for beasties, looking at flowers, birds.. great fun. This will be one of my abiding good memories of the lockdown period - the unfettered access to time to just mess around.

  • Learning about flowers and plants, with the amazing Seek app for iPhone or Android, with me learning about plants and taking the kids along for the ride in my learning.

  • Hoverfly Lagoons, which is my wife’s speciality.. she and Mia are posting videos on the website to encourage more people put lagoons in their garden and contribute to citizen science.

  • Physically I feel better/more flexible as not sitting down for 8 hours per day. We’ve done some Joe Wicks and also Cosmic Kids Yoga - Disco

  • Doing more running (2 year niggle foot injury getting better). I like Strava.

  • Watching films with the kids on the couch (and they love it when I’m there)
    • Shark Boy and Lava Girl (Netflix) is Mia’s current favourite
    • Tayo the Bus (Netflix) is Henry’s favourite TV programme
  • We have been talking to our neighbours a lot more!

  • Lovely to see less traffic on the roads in front of our house

  • Clearer skies (no air traffic or cars creating smog)

My wife has done loads in our tiny garden:

  • Growing loads more vegetables and flowers

  • Hung a rope swing from a branch (kids love it)

  • Build a sand pit (kids love it)

  • Hung 2 hammocks (for the kids)

And we’ve:

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We’ve had amazing support from the school with lots to do, and no pressure to do anything. I’ve enjoyed teaching Mia about phonics with Geraldine the Giraffe, maths, reading lots of stories, and making up counting games. Also doing many jigsaw puzzles with the kids. So I’m learning how to be a better parent for sure!

Bad Things

  • Me and the kids are much more moody

  • Not having enough time to focus on my business

  • Not seeing friends

  • Kids not socialising. It is heart-breaking to hear Mia say she is lonely and missing her friends. When we meet other kids by chance, the change in her is immediate.

What we do

  • During the week we split 50% work and 50% school / play with the kids

  • Go out for runs

  • Go out for a walk before work

  • Have lie ins at the weekend (alternate days)

  • Meditate - Headspace app

  • Don’t worry about spending money on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, YouTube, Spotify… it keeps us happy

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Mia got a yellow face on the board for not turning off the Kindle Fire this morning when asked to. This board is a great motivator to encourage good listening. It helps us retain some sense of order, and hopefully to stop the kids going feral.

Home office setup

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Spare room converted to home office.

I’ve got a QuietPC small form factor silent desktop PC hidden in the wicker basket, with all cabling hidden and duct-taped to the desk. I use the laptop when downstairs.

Our internet connection is around 40Mbps down and 12Mbps up and fairly solid. I’ve put a lot of effort into making it as good as possible, which has paid off.

  • Have an office door to close!
  • We each have a desk in the office with screens and a desk ready to go.
  • Monitors facing walls with natural light to the side (and a good curtain)
  • Plants to make it feel like a nice space to work in
  • Good speakers for music.

Observations

Some days suck!

The kids drive me to breaking point. I’ve thrown a few things around which is very unlike me, as I pride myself on being an ultra calm person. On some days, this lockdown has pushed me very hard emotionally, just like the hardest times on expeditions.

Getting outside usually always helps with the kids and me when this happens.

When I work I

  • Do not look at social media
  • Do not look at emails
  • Focus on whatever task it is until done.

Looking after others

I try and regularly keep in touch with loved ones.

Looking after ourselves

Sometimes it is great just to sit in front of the TV and do nothing!

Alcohol

Wine and beer are great, but it is very temping to drink loads. I’m generally happier not drinking and having some blow outs every now and again.

Mood and coping with stuff

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See the joy in exploring and finding things out (Mia wasn’t scared!)

To some degree this is like being on expedition with big highs (well not many) and big lows (yes quite a lot). So here are a few thoughts:

  • Be kind to people (bring wife cups of tea)
    • Help people on Twitter / Reddit / Stack Overflow
    • Talk to people / reach out
  • Be kind to yourself
    • Read books
    • Go running

Should we send our kids back to School/Nursery

It feels good to know and see other countries coming out of lockdown. The biggest things I’m looking forward to are:

  • School going back
  • Nursery going back

However this is a massive worry, as what about the health of our kids.

From UK Research and Innovation’s 11th May article that children under the age of 18:

  • Are statistically less likely to catch COVID-19
  • Their infections tend to be milder
  • Less likely to transmit / bring infections into the household

It has come to light today that our nursery are having all staff wear facemasks and the single allowed parent wont be allowed in. This sounds like a scary proposition for a child - akin to being dropped off at an asylum every day.

Article on 22nd May by Sage Committee suggesting the longer we wait, the safer it will be

What I want to keep doing

I would like to remember some of the good parts of lockdown, so for my future self I’d like to:

  • Every day have time to run / be outside
  • Pick up kids from school x days per week
  • Have time to play with kids before and after school and weekends

  • Not do too much (in terms of clubs for kids)
  • Have time to do nothing with kids and myself

Having a free calendar is great!

  • Don’t spend so much on convenience food
    • It’s fun to make our own fresh healthy lunches
    • Baking our own bread
    • Omelettes
    • Eggy bread (see the amazing free MySaffronApp for a great place to store your recipes)

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Positive Effects of COVID-19

Everest visible from Kathmandu due to the cleaner air.

British Medical Journal - skies are bluer, fewer cars crashing, crime is falling and some other infectious diseases are fading from emergency departments.

Conclusion

Good luck to us all in keeping safe and well - physically and emotionally.

Don’t Panic!