We are the lucky ones.
I tell my reluctant kids this every day before we start yet another day of ‘home-schooling’. They have a loving family around them, plenty of space to ‘swing a cat’, a garden to 'blow off steam' and parents who can give them undivided attention every day.
Even with all these things, lockdown hasn’t been easy so far. I’m not even beginning to compare our lot with those on the front-line or those with sick/vulnerable family and friends. It’s true though that bringing up three young children within the same four walls, day after day, with virtually zero social interaction, can be hard-going.
A surge in mental illness during lockdown
It’s really little wonder that psychologists are already predicting an acute surge in mental health related illnesses during this pandemic and that these issues may ripple through society for weeks, months and perhaps even years. Young people may be able to fight the virus most effectively but whether they can fight the mental impact of enforced isolation remains to be seen.
It is with this backdrop, that I have been desperately searching for fresh ideas to keep the kids going, keep them amused, keep them positive. Frankly the practise SAT’s papers and spelling sheets provided by school can wait.
Arsenal-related ideas to keep you and your kids busy
With three Arsenal obsessed kids in the house, the obvious solution was to find football related challenges to complete. It turns out that when you have plenty of time on your hands, it’s pretty easy to come up with ideas that keep them fit, interested and even learning.
Inspired by Lee Dixon’s bike ride (see his Twitter) during his daily exercise to ‘church’, also known as Highbury Stadium, we took the kids on a London bike ride tour, taking in Islington’s finest architecture. I highly recommend this as not just great for getting the kids out and fit but also highly educational. Just don’t get lost up the Seven Sister’s Road...
My 11 year old has embarked on a football stadium tour project in lieu of morning Maths lessons. He’s spent around two weeks now working out how much it would cost him to travel to every Premiership stadium in the country, buy a match ticket, stay the night in a hotel and buy a single piece of merchandise - albeit he’s banned from any of those dodgy half n’ half scarves! It’s a very good future lesson for him to see that being a loyal fan and away match traveller is a very expensive business indeed.
London Colney inspired recipes - Bergkamp chicken
Of course, I would be doing Arsene Wenger a disservice if I didn’t take the opportunity to teach my kids our now famous London Colney inspired dinner recipe. Chicken, olive oil and lemon juice roasted in a tray with lashings of broccoli on the side has always been known as ‘Bergkamp chicken’ in our house. Huge thanks to my friend for passing that on to me. Her boys would only eat it when they thought that their hero did too.
Recreate Spurs trophy cabinet by playing hide and seek in empty areas at home
Hide and Seek is another favourite, so whilst you declutter your house in your spare time (is anyone actually doing that?) you can make spaces as big as those in the Spurs trophy cabinet for the kids to hide in.
Write a match report about Arsenal winning the league at White Hart Lane
Replace an English lesson with getting the kids to write a match report or record their own commentary. How about that match when Arsenal won the league at White Hart Lane? Give them extra marks if they ask you to specify which time.
Keepie-uppies are always a good time-waster
If they crack it and can get to 4447 give them a special treat (as well as putting in a call to Mikel Arteta). It’s always good to be reminded of the number of days since Spurs won a trophy and the beauty of this one is that the challenge gets harder every day – how apt!
Watch an Arsenal DVD
If all of this sounds too intense or active for you, nothing beats watching Arsenal win the double over and over again. Luckily, we have a library of DVD’s that we can always turn to when only a sofa and a duvet will do…
In the end, this is a chance to teach our children our way.
My grandfather always used to say that the only education worth having was an Arsenal education. Don’t miss your chance!
Parenting expert Sophie focusses on children's health and wellbeing. For further information visit her LinkedIn profile here.