I asked parents and caregivers to share their unique experiences of managing their families through this historic lockdown period. I have been moved, humbled and entertained by the real-life stories that have been shared with me. The word unprecedented has been bandied about repeatedly to describe the strange and troubling situation in which we find ourselves.  It is, however, a good description.  I am truly grateful to all the parents and whanau who have told me of their strengths, their stresses and their times of celebration and desperation. Thank you one and all – I hope to hear more stories, thoughts and parenting insights in the comments.

A mother of 4 busy boys has told me that she is managing mostly fine, however her youngest son (3yrs) has not worn clothes for 4 days, and the rest of them have embraced ‘wacky hair day’ as a daily challenge. She tells me that her baby now closely resembles Mowgli from the Jungle Book (minus the red undies) and that the rest of the team are more like The Lost Boys in Hook. She was encouraged when son number two announced that the 3-year-old was finally in Superman boxer shorts, until she noticed that they were on his head.  Coupled with a red cape. I totally applaud this Mum for being relaxed about the small stuff and retaining her sense of humour while managing on her own with no other adult in her bubble.

A couple with two young boys Luke and Jasper have been enjoying their time with their parents – their Mum is a very loving parent who rarely gets too fussed about early childhood behaviour. She told me that her littlest is something of a picky eater, but that it usually doesn’t bother her a bit. However, the constant whining, bickering and general lack of space was building to a stunning climax this week. She was busy preparing yet another lunch at home when he stubbornly decided that he no longer ate his favourite cold chicken. To cut to the chase, this moment was the extreme flashpoint for this stressed out parent… and one cooked chicken learned how to fly again. My quote of the week came from her oldest Luke running off to Dad who was safely working from home in his office and shouting (to the astonishment of his colleagues on the computer) “Dad I seriously think you need to come NOW because Mummy threw a chicken”. I think we can all relate to the sheer frustration of that moment.

I have adored the story of 2-year-old Daisy learning her colours, and her counting in both English and Te Reo with the help of Educational Chocolate – the only tools needed are a handy bowl of M&M’s – what an innovative and creative Mum. Nice work Jenna.

I love the story of Pip and Krissy who are caring for their Grandsons throughout lockdown and have embraced the idea of the Covid 19 Time Capsule – what amazing and positive memories they are building for their whanau.

I have a father who has built an entire road system on the lawn and veranda complete with roundabouts, road blocks and Lego policeman to stop the speedsters and people who should be staying at home – Ka Pai to him for his imagination and clever ways of explaining the current reality.

I was told today by the mother of little girls aged 2 and 4 years that this Lockdown has been “the biggest blessing for her family” – this comment was not one I took lightly because she has shared with me some of her challenges and stressors, and I am so impressed that she is taking this time to build a strong and positive bond with her girls. She is embracing new parenting challenges and I also feel very blessed to be trusted with her story.

To the Mum who has been up four times last night to her scared and anxious 11-year-old daughter during this genuinely unsettling time – I applaud you and hope you get some rest today. This is definitely a good day for some suitable Screen Time. Thank you for your efforts to reassure your frightened child. It is not easy.

To the family who have been using the hot tip of Quiet Time cross-legged on the kitchen floor as a competitive sport – bravo!! I hope they don’t get bored too soon.

To the very young Mum stuck in isolation with a little baby and no whanau in her town – congratulations for making the choice to stay safe in your bubble for your daughter

I particularly loved the story of the family who usually go on a beach holiday to The East Coast at Easter. They shared with me that as they have an exercise bicycle in their home they are, between them “biking to the Coast”. If they make it by Saturday they will be ‘’camping on the beach” – in their sitting room. Their oldest Anaru is leading the chase but younger son Eruera is not far behind……. Keep pedalling Eru!!

I have also heard numerous stories of baking on a budget, art projects, going for Bear Hunts (a wonderful window display spotted in Brooklyn Road Carterton), exercise ideas, fun laughter and tears.  Parents managing busy lives, children with challenging behaviour, ADHD, special needs, and getting through this extraordinary time in history. I cheer you all.

Keep up the good work -thank you so much for sharing your stories and challenges with me. I hope you all have as good an Easter as possible. Kia Kaha – I am off to indulge in some Educational Chocolate. Keep safe everyone. Sam Williams – Proactive Parenting.