I’m lucky, I’m not going to complain as I write this on a Thursday evening, two glasses of wine deep reflecting on the past week. I’m conscious that my former and potentially future colleagues, my friends and my family members working within the HSE would love to have the opportunity I’ve had in the last few days – to be at home with their kids. Unfortunately they have been preparing to face potentially the most challenging time of their professional lives. So I’m not going to moan about being at home with my kids……… But!
In a time when I’ve become increasingly worried about the damaging influence of technology on my children and myself, it’s been my saviour this week. The teachers of Scoil Bhride, Milltown send daily emails of work for them to do, the work is done and we email back pictures, then get a an encouraging reply from their teachers. It’s given us a focus and allowed us, especially me, to maintain a routine in a strange time. Again I’m lucky, I’m not working as my physiotherapy clinic is closed. I have the time and sometimes even the patience to do it, if I was still at work or working from home it would be impossible to do it. But the school work is only a small part of or long day, our very, very long day. As Michelle works from home I’m building dens, forts and we’ve had some board game bust ups. Sitting down to roll the dice is guaranteed to spark a row. In the race to bankrupt other players Monopoly causes the most rows, closely followed by a war of words of scrabble. Molly is teaching me to play the guitar and Paddy practices his wrestling moves on me. Don’t be fooled It’s not all idyllic here, there’s been so many rows between us all, the silent rows between myself and Michelle (my wife), you know the ones where you really just want to tell each other to “F$@k off” but can’t because the kids are around. There’s been tantrums, meltdowns, outbursts and that’s only from me.
Local sports clubs around us have been doing their best to set kids challenges to keep kids occupied. Moorefield GAA have started a daily Skills task, and this has been mirrored around the country. The Daily Mile is another great option https://thedailymile.ie/. My favourite so far has come from Newbridge AC – the home hurdles challenge or as we it “the bog roll Jump”. With all the toilet roll being hoarded it made for the perfect height adjustable hurdle leap!
The big thing I’ve noticed as we’ve pottered away at home doing the school work is how the kids like to move around – standing, sitting, wriggling, squirming and crawling under the table, answering homework questions while hanging off the couch upside down. Children are hardwired to learn by imitation (Jones, 2009). Family homes can be the seedbed for a physically active life (Eyler et al., 1999; Ferreira et al., 2007). People may assume Children are naturally energetic and require little encouragement. But in fact research proves that the activity levels of parents may have a direct influence on how active – or not – their children are (Hesketh et al., 2014). The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland suggest all children (2-18 years) should be active at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 60 minutes every day. The family home and schools are the ideal sites to increase the physical activity of children. Child obesity prevention studies suggest that including specific regular physical exercise sessions in the school day were among the most promising strategies used in avoiding weight gain (Waters et al., 2011). Shifting teacher and parental behaviour towards using physically active schooling approaches may increase the physical activity of students, with massive positive implications for the wellbeing of children presently and into the future (Martin and Murtagh, 2015). The simple reality for me is that my pair seem easier to keep occupied on the move!
I robbed this from a tweet I read in-between sips of wine– “The citizens of Wuhan can finally hear the birds after years, Venice’s water canals are clear and full of fish, and in Poland the Tatra mountains can be seen from Krakow because the smog has lifted”. For many of us, we have so many worries at the minute from mortgage repayments and health to work and our futures, but at this early stage of the an outbreak that is projected to get so much worse we have been afforded some priceless time to appreciate what we have, to reconnect and get to know both our kids and ourselves.
Eyler, A. A., Brownson, R. C., Donatelle, R. J., King, A. C., Brown, D. and Sallis, J. F. (1999) ‘Physical activity social support and middle- and older-aged minority women: results from a US survey’, Soc Sci Med, 49(6), pp. 781-9.
Ferreira, I., van der Horst, K., Wendel-Vos, W., Kremers, S., van Lenthe, F. J. and Brug, J. (2007) ‘Environmental correlates of physical activity in youth – a review and update’, Obes Rev, 8(2), pp. 129-54.
Hesketh, K. R., Goodfellow, L., Ekelund, U., McMinn, A. M., Godfrey, K. M., Inskip, H. M., Cooper, C., Harvey, N. C. and van Sluijs, E. M. F. (2014) ‘Activity Levels in Mothers and Their Preschool Children’, Pediatrics, 133(4), pp. e973.
Jones, S. S. (2009) ‘The development of imitation in infancy’, Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 364(1528), pp. 2325-35.
Martin, R. and Murtagh, E. M. (2015) ‘An intervention to improve the physical activity levels of children: design and rationale of the ‘Active Classrooms’ cluster randomised controlled trial’, Contemp Clin Trials, 41, pp. 180-91.
Waters, E., de Silva-Sanigorski, A., Hall, B. J., Brown, T., Campbell, K. J., Gao, Y., Armstrong, R., Prosser, L. and Summerbell, C. D. (2011) ‘Interventions for preventing obesity in children’, Cochrane Database Syst Rev, (12), pp. Cd001871.