The Lockdown Child – B-rad du Jary
First up, before I get into anything, I want to say I 100% don’t have all the answers or have it all together.
I probably have more questions if anything. But what I can share is some of my experience of parenting and being a present dad during this nationwide COVID lockdown.
My wife and I are both in full time work and we have two young boys, ages 3 and 1. Heading into a nationwide lockdown a few weeks ago was clearly the best thing for the country, but I knew it was going to be challenging for us.
The day before lockdown we hit the shops hard! Pretty much for games, crafts, creative elements, toys, things to keep the boys entertained for 4-8 weeks if that is what was/is needed.
I don’t think anything prepared me for the challenge that is making two workloads happen and looking after 2 young boys.
I’ll be honest, I quickly became very envious of those without kids, or those where one spouse in the house could give full attention the whole day to the child/children. If you’re asking, no I don’t have lots of time on my hands haha
The juggle would take place daily. The night before we would look at our meeting schedule for the next day, and try to piece our days together like a puzzle, trying to create space for one of us to watch the boys. But always leaving room for a family outing before dinner.
Before I go on, Dad’s… I just want to say, it’s not all up to the Mum to look after the kids alone. In times like these our children need us both to be present and active in their lives. Especially if they’re under 5 as they won’t fully grasp what is happening in society, and why you’re suddenly working all the time and not playing with them. It may come across to your child like you’re constantly rejecting them. And if you’re a single parent, I just want to salute you!!! I don’t know how you do it! You’re amazing!!!!!! SERIOUSLY!
During the first 3 weeks of isolation we found that our 3yr old would lose the plot almost on a daily basis. Throwing tantrums, spitting, kicking, punching, potty mouth, he even started wetting his undies again…you name it, it happened! He’d get super tired and just flip out. Here is where I’ll be vulnerable, I find it hard as a Dad when your 3yr old won’t listen to you. When the behaviour is incredibly disobedient. Because of the work juggle, the late nights and early mornings, the day after day of challenge, I found my patience fuse was VERY short. Just ask my wife, haha. I’m lucky to be patient at the best of times. But this lack of patience and a manifesting crazy 3yr old pushed me to a place of reaction and not responding. I found myself a number of times, once he had calmed down, apologising for my reactive behaviour. I can empathise with any parent our there who’s walking through high frustration levels at the moment.
I just want to encourage you that it’s not the end of the story, it may just be time for a new chapter!
Easter weekend rolls around and we get some quality time with the boys. The Easter bunny dropped off a LOT of eggs this year! We didn’t let the boys eat everything, in fact we put the majority aside. I pulled out this small whiteboard from my basketball gear bag that I once used and turned it into a good behaviour chart. 5 very good behaviours in a day and he gets the reward of an easter egg. A bad behaviour wipes a good behaviour away. See what we realised is because our 3yr old is highly competitive, and gifted at sports at a very young age, we had to harness these qualities to turn them into good behaviour. He loves a challenge and took this one head on!
By Easter Sunday he’s was up to 3 good behaviours!!! He had tidied up, had dry undies, ate his lunch etc. He was on a winning streak! Then that evening he lost all three within the space of 30 seconds. I shouldn’t have laughed, but it was kind of funny at the time. He didn’t make it to the egg that night. However, a few days on, and he’s had days in a row of amazing behaviour! And he’s so proud of himself each night.
We ask him how it feels to be good? “It feels good! I like it!”
I think it’s important that we can help our children associate patterns of behaviour with their feelings. To not escape their feelings but allow them to understand and harness their feelings to help guide their external behaviour off an internal compass. Not to say that children should be ruled by their feelings, I just believe it’s important that they can associate their actions with their internal world.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel. There’s been some valleys and mountains, but in the chaos, we’ve discovered some gold within our boys and within us.
Maybe as you’re reading this today is the day to move on to the next chapter. Maybe you’re a Dad reading this, I want to encourage you to be present in your child/children’s lives during the day. Create space, create margin, try something new, seek to understand and harness the amazing gifts and abilities within your child. This season won’t last forever, but it could define who you as a family become. There is good within this. And the last little thing I’ll leave you with, is to just LOVE your young ones. Tell them they are special. Tell them they are loved. Tell them they’re a champion and you’re proud of them. Be their biggest cheerleader. And speak God’s best over their lives!!!!
Don’t give up.
You’ve got this Mum! You’ve got this Dad!
B-rad du Jary
Kingdom Events Director at LIFE