Updated: Jan 14
If you’re getting to the end of the day with everyone fed, no-one dead, you need to take a moment to breathe and celebrate your own awesomeness, no matter how many mistakes you made, how much of a mess your home is, how many times you shouted, and how inadequate you feel. You are doing a job that is the hardest on earth at the best of times, and for most of us, this is probably not the best of times. We lack the support of the village that parents need, now more than ever.
So here are some tips from B'Opera's Zoë and Jac for surviving with small ones. Pick and choose anything useful for you and adapt adapt adapt!
1. Sing a song! I’ve said this before, but you literally can sing a song for ANY occasion. Back in April Jac filled our Facebook and Instagram feeds with free songs for you to try at home - they're still there - and we've got lots on our Youtube channel and on the Patreon page. If you're stuck, just start with "If you're happy and you know it"... then insert whatever you're doing. So "if you're happy and you know it have some lunch... if you're happy and you know it change your nappy, have a nap, give a wave"... etc
2. Have a bath. This was a tip from Charlotte Kanyi of Birth Essence when I had Youngest and was struggling with exhaustion. Have a bath with your little one. It’ll give you a chance to lie down and soak, while they play in the water alongside you.
3. Let them get bored. You do not have to entertain your children 24/7.
4. Put very little ones in front of the washing machine and put a load of washing in. You might be amazed how long it keeps them entertained!
5. You can replay our educational, fun and inspiring videos and B’Opera First Songs sessions as many times as you like on Patreon from as little as £5 a month. Seriously, that's just over £1 a week for high quality educational music activities for your little one. Use the opportunity to have a cup of something while it’s hot! Here's some feedback from our audience members: "Really enjoyed this morning. N was in a dreadful mood and she lit up when she heard your voice, had the biggest smile whenever you said her name and then was in a gorgeous mood for the rest of the day, so THANK YOU!!! x" And this one from Anna: "Wanted to share with you how much your online sessions are brightening our week! This morning B was in another room, but immediately stopped what she was doing, shouted 'it's Zoe!', ran in, and watched the whole class again, smiling and clapping along. Just wanted you to know how much we enjoy and appreciate your classes."
6. Screen time - personally I don’t think the usual rules apply. This is a very, very extreme and unusual situation. You may need to use screen time for your child in order to get work done/stay sane whatever else. Do not beat yourself up when you are already coping with so much.
7. Water and sand used to keep my children occupied for ages - they would get mesmerised by the texture and feel of it. Go outdoors if you can - the change of scenery often helps. Roll a ball, fill a bowl or paddling pool with water. If you have sand, let them play in that. You can use watering cans or just a bowl with some plastic bottles - anything that allows them to fill and empty and refill and re-empty… If you've got no outdoor space, or it's too cold, use the bath.
8. Dance party in the living room - a cheap, easy and free way to shake off the blues and get some exercise and probably laughter.
9. Jac prefers to have a plan for the day - she says “I find it I’m much more relaxed deviating from a plan than trying to wing it and think of things to do all day.” If you work better with a plan and feel less at sea, make one. If not, don’t. 10. If you want to let them paint but can't cope with the mess, plonk them in the bath with everything they need. Then just shower them and the bath down at the end. 11. If they're slightly older, make a nature wristband - sellotape round the wrist, sticky side up. Go for a walk or out in the garden and stick bits of flowers, leaves and feathers onto it.
12. Revise your standards. Depending on whether your little one can move, you are likely facing a choice between following them around all day tidying up, and accepting the glorious chaotic mess of these early years. I don’t find this one easy, but I recommend Clover Stroud’s wonderful book 'My Wild and Sleepless Nights', which helped me focus more on the pure magic of my children, and less on the disastrous mess they leave in their wake.
How are you coping? What are you struggling with? What are you nailing? Get in touch - we'd love to hear from you.