Before lockdown, Amanda Frolich kept her work life – running physical development classes for babies and toddlers in South and West London as her alter-ego ” Action Amanda ” – separate from her home life.
But with school closures for lockdown dragging on seemingly indefinitely, Amanda decided that what her 15-yr-old daughter Bibi needed to shake up her homeschool routine was the input of Action Amanda.
“I sort of conned her,” joked Amanda, 51, describing how she persuaded Bibi to get active by first letting her choose “a really nice top and pair of leggings” online, so that she’d feel good working out at home.
Amanda encouraged Bibi to download a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) app on her phone, consisting of seven-minute-long workouts which she now regularly does in her breaks from lessons.
Amanda swears by these high intensity mini-workouts. She said Bibi’s energy levels are much higher throughout the day and she is able to focus better during her online lessons.
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The other thing Amanda recommends is to make sure your children drink plenty of water.
“They don’t realise they’re thirsty until it’s too late,” she said, “if you sip water throughout the day your body will hold it so much better than if they leave it too late and get a headache and then they have to guzzle water.”
Amanda isn’t the only mum who swears by getting their children moving in order to keep them focused and happy throughout the day.
Cat Bateman, 51, who lives in South East London and works doing music entertainment for babies and toddlers, said making her two sons, aged 13 and 11, go for a morning run has “saved the family” during lockdown.
She said: “Every morning we drag them out of bed and we all go for a run – because the only way we’re not going to kill each other is if we’ve all got out of the house.”
According to Cat, the boys aren’t always the most willing of participants.
She added: “They literally hate us – they scowl at us the whole time.
“I don’t want to come across as a really worthy mum, but it’s absolutely saving our sanity – even though you feel disgusting when you’re doing it, afterwards you feel good, and I swear it changes all our moods.”
It’s also the most effective way for Cat to make sure the boys aren’t completely shirking their PE lessons.
She said: “I walked upstairs and my son was sat there in his pyjamas – and the PE teachers were doing the PE lesson on the screen and my son was just sat there watching – he wasn’t doing it!”
Cat said it can be worrying thinking about what the current generation of pupils are losing in terms of education, but she believes if she can keep her children fit as a bare minimum, she can keep them on the right track.
Shona Chambers, 42, is a marketing consultant from Forest Hill, with a five-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son at home.
Shona said the hardest thing about homeschooling her children – especially for her son who moved up to secondary school in the middle of the pandemic – is trying to break the monotony of sitting in the same place staring at a screen for hours on end.
She said she tries to choose a different park to exercise with her family when they go out each day, to keep things feeling as varied as possible within the current restrictions, even if it’s just a half hour stroll round the block, squeezed into a gap between her children’s clashing timetables.
Shona also recommended focusing each week around finding something special to do at home on the weekends, to break up the monotony of the school week – such as going through old cookbooks with her children and letting them choose a meal they’d like to make.
She said: “We’ve made jelly melons, where you scoop out a whole melon and fill it with different coloured jelly, and my son chose chicken goujons for us to make.
“It’s just trying to think about the simple pleasures that are still accessible to us even now.”