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The pandemic feels never-ending and most parents are struggling with homeschooling. But Nadia Sawalha, 56, and her TV producer husband Mark Adderley, 50, taught daughters Maddie, 18, and Kiki-Bee, 13, for five years even before the coronavirus struck.
We quizzed the Loose Women star on how she’s surviving life in lockdown…
How is your marriage faring spending 24/7 together?!
Everything is magnified now. Mark and I got pregnant and married within six months and we’ve been through a lot together. We were both heavy drinkers when we met – and chaotic. My husband was an alcoholic but didn’t know it then. Since rehab, he’s been sober for 16 years. We’ve had therapy and couples counselling several times and wouldn’t hesitate to again. It’s all about communicating. We got ourselves a timer and only one person was allowed to speak when it was on – no interruptions. It made us stop and really listen.
What do you do about keeping the passion alive?
When you’re all slopping around in tracksuits? Ha! If men want more sex they have to wipe down the side and fill the dishwasher. If women want more sex, they probably just have to tell their husband they do! Everyone wants to feel cherished. Write little notes to each other, silly things like, “Just thinking you look really lovely over there – washing up!”
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Has the family’s mental health been an issue in lockdown?
This third lockdown has hit us harder and we’ve struggled. We had a couple of days when we were feeling low and swapped homeschooling for mental health days. We cancelled anything non urgent and we all wore black tracksuits because we felt really dark. We just went with it. Another day we turned the house into a fake restaurant and played Pictionary. Unless you look after kids’ mental health, they’re not going to learn anything.
How do you get the kids to open up to you?
We’ve always talked about mental health at home and placed as much importance on that as our physical health. In lockdown, I check in on a daily basis. So how are we feeling one to 10? And then we’ll discuss it. Older kids and teenagers find it awkward if you’re looking at them and demanding to know what’s wrong. So I ask them to text me what’s bothering them and let me know if they want to talk about it or not. I’d be happy talking about sex with them, but I’m the last person they would want to!
How are Maddie and Kiki coping with not socialising?
Young people have had their whole lives put on pause. My daughters haven’t moaned about it but I feel sad for them. Both my children have online counselling once a week and they love it. I realise I’m very blessed in being able to pay for it. I also allow mine unlimited WiFi and screen time to talk to friends.
Loose Women star Nadia Sawalha shows off incredible new walk-in wardrobe in her gorgeous London home
Loose Women's Nadia Sawalha shows off hair transformation after daughter cuts her a fringe
We love the spoof Kim Kardashian videos you do sending up her Skims underwear. What do the girls think?
For a long while they were embarrassed. But these films are my gift to them, to show how real women look. And by osmosis, it’s working. Now they say “Mum, it’s brilliant what you do.” Truthfully, I make those films and then often have a crisis of confidence. Every single day I have to work on my negativity, what I call my “stinking thinking”. I’ve starved myself, I’ve done the DVD. I’ve believed that all my dreams would come true if I was a size 10 or if I didn’t have bad shaped boobs. It breaks my heart how women treat themselves.
Nadia’s homeschooling tips:
1. If you don’t know something, admit it
Nobody knows everything. If the girls ask us a question we can’t answer we say, ‘Let’s find out!’ Children visibly relax when adults admit they don’t know something.
2. Make it fun
We watch lots of films together, but not passively. We get the girls engaged and discuss them. We watched a show about the history of swearing. There were a lot of f-words!
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3. Give them freedom
Allow older kids to manage their own workloads – they’ll learn to discipline themselves. If my daughters want to spend eight hours on the phone to friends, I let them, providing the work is done.
4. It takes a village to raise a child
Are others in your family or support bubble experts in something you’re not? Ask for help. It’s healthy for kids to hear other perspectives.
5. Go with the flow with schedules
Don’t get bogged down with the idea that school starts at 8am and finishes at 3pm. Teenagers study better after more sleep. If you’re working from home, start early and let the kids sleep in.
Honey, I Home-Schooled the Kids by Nadia Sawalha and Mark Adderley is published by Coronet, £14.99.
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