Coping with the kids at home

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A lot of people are stuck at home with kids that would normally be in school or daycare for part of the day. How are they managing? We asked that question of a couple of random moms (chosen randomly, that is) last week.

Ashley Leonard is confined to quarters with three youngsters, aged three, 10 and 12, while her husband Michael continues to go to work at the pulp mill.

“It’s like a weekend around here,” she said – one that had lasted about two weeks by then.

But unlike a weekend, she has her two older children doing schoolwork in the mornings.

“The school division does provide resources,” Leonard says. “The kids are in contact with the teachers (via Google Classroom) and other students.”

As for the little one, it’s not that hard to keep a three-year-old entertained, and in this case, grandma lives downstairs.

“She’s a big help,” Leonard says. “A very big help.”

How about outings? Not much so far. The family went to Marten Beach once to look at the ice ridges on the lake. They might do it again. But they don’t want the kids to come in contact with other people. Or themselves, any more than necessary. Leonard says she is trying to limit her grocery shopping outings to once per week.

Other distractions and entertainments are where you can make them.

“We’ve been looking after the school (Miss Strickland’s room at E.G. Wahlstrom) gerbils,” says Leonard.

The Leonard girls, cooped up but having fun making a couple of gerbils work for their lunch. Left to right are Neisha, Zoey and Neveah.

What do you do when you’ve got a couple of gerbils? Build a maze for them, of course. Hours of inexpensive entertainment follow.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Sarah Hudson was keeping herself and her two kiddies busy with all sorts of schemes as they went through their second week of isolation. Dane is in Grade 1. His little sister Samara is 2 1/2.

“The great news is I’ve got a lot of hobbies,” says Hudson.

Indoor gardening is one example, “and I’ve got the kids helping me with that.”

Baking is another hobby and six-year-old Dane is lending a hand there.

The “little one” just happens to be starting her potty training, “so this is a great time to do it,” Hudson says.

Like the Leonard kids, Dane is doing a bit of schooling every day, coached either by mom Sarah or dad Craig when he’s home from his work at Atco Gas.

Dane has packages of work from school, printed off the HPSD website, so “he can work on numbers and writing skills and he’s beginning to read.”
It’s been almost all indoors so far. Hudson says a couple of walks around the neighbourhood is the extent of the outdoor excursions, but they are not running out of interesting things to do in the house. The gardening hobby is turning into more than just a bit of puttering. Hudson has lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and herbs in full production. She’s also started a “plant trade group” via social media that in three weeks has grown to about a hundred members.

How it works is if you agree to a swap (of houseplants or veggie plants), at the appointed time the person shows up, leaves their plant on your doorstep and takes the one you have left there for them. With freezing temperatures the timing for the exchange would have to be precise, but Hudson says it’s working.

One thing that eases the isolation is the kids are able to communicate with their friends over the Internet. Dane can do the same while playing computer games with his friends.

“We’re healthy,” Hudson said. “And not going stir crazy yet.”

She is getting itchy for outdoor gardening season, though, and has plans to expand the garden.

Hudson kids, Dane and Samara. He’s working on his numbers and she is creating a pretty picture.

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