Families in Lockdown

This is one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced. I’m sitting here in my dining room writing this article and feeling very removed from the realities of what’s really going on, not just in our nation, but around the entire world. It’s hard to believe, tucked up safe in my own home, that our nation is in lockdown, that people are suffering and dying, and that almost all commerce and trade has ground to a halt. This is a major event in history that our grandchildren will learn about in school. And we’re living through it.

There are many things around our current situation that are concerning or worrying. As I’ve talked to friends over the past couple of days, I’ve realised that one of the biggest anxieties is the thought of spending a lengthy amount of time locked in our individual homes with all the children. This is completely justified for a variety of reasons, most of which are rather obvious.

Over the coming weeks, the team at Venn is hoping to share some thoughts and reflections around how we might ease some of these anxieties, connect with our children, and maybe even use this time to input into their understanding of faith and God.

First things first, though. During this season, it’s important to be making sure you put your oxygen mask on first. Your attitude, posture, and mental health will be teaching your kids far more than any worksheets their teachers have assigned. So, what is it that you need? Do you need your spouse to take care of breakfast so you can have some space at the start of each day? Can you start a ‘rest time’ in the middle of the day where the children have time in their bedrooms and you can have a quiet cup of coffee? Can you use more screen time in order to get a few minutes to pray and reflect, or catch up with a friend via FaceTime? Whatever you need, give yourself the grace and permission to have it.

One of the things that I’ve realised over the last couple of years of home-schooling, is that if you can start the day connecting with your kids, the rest of the day will often flow well. A recent discovery is the idea of a ‘morning basket’. A morning basket is a basket (or box, or bag, or pile on the floor) filled with short, fun activities to start your day together. It can have as much or as little in it as works for you, but the idea is to be starting your day out of a place of rest and connection.

As an example, the morning basket at our house consists of a short children’s devotional and a prayer from a children’s prayer book. We have a book called 365 Days of Art and we have a brief look at the day’s painting and each decide if we like it or not, and why. We set our calendar so that we know which day, month, and season it is (important when all the days begin rolling into one) and have a go at reading or reciting our weekly memory verse. We watch an episode of ‘Te Reo for Kids’ and then the kids colour while I read aloud from a chapter book (currently The Magician’s Nephew). It only takes about 20 minutes but the kids love it and it means we start the day off on a good note. They feel like they’ve had some cosy connection on the couch and I feel like I’ve attempted a little Christian formation before morning tea!

One of the segments we will be including in Venn Lockdown Radio is a chat with some parents from the alumni community each week, so make sure you tune in for encouragement and ideas from some familiar voices.

Please remember that as we step into this season, the Venn team are being very intentional about praying for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any specific prayer requests through our direct email prayer@venn.org.nz. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this prayer to share with your children this week. Kia kaha.

Lord God, you are always with me.
You are with me in the day and in the night.
You are with me when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
You are with me when I’m healthy and when I am ill.
You are with me when I am peaceful and when I am worried.
Help me to remember that you love me and are with me in everything today.