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Pandemic parenting: the golden rules Prince William and Kate swear by in lockdown

The Cambridges share Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis

Natasha Hornsby

We've all seen the memes – a busy mum trying to conduct a conference call with her child tied down to the floor with duct tape, another pouring herself a large glass of wine at the prospect of the umpteenth day in lockdown with her family. The last few months really haven't been easy for parents and with some pupils not due back in school until September it isn't over yet. Their royal titles haven't entirely protected the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge from the chaos of home schooling.

MORE: Take a tour inside Prince William and Kate's country home, Anmer Hall

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Through what Kate described as the "up and downs" of 24/7 parenting the couple have remained upbeat and smiling. And it's not only Prince George, nearly seven, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, that they're trying to reassure. In the crisis they've emerged as the face of a modern royal family, trying to encourage us all to believe, especially those with young children, that we can get through it together. Here, we outline William and Kate's top tips for pandemic parenting.

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The Cambridges have been on lockdown in their country home

Good communication

For nearly a decade Kate has been all about supporting families and children's mental health. Through her work, she's learned that being as honest as possible, without frightening youngsters, is the best policy. That's why she never shies away from talking about tricky topics, whether it's prejudice, as she did ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in January, or coronavirus.

"Although you don't want to scare them and make it too overwhelming, I think it's appropriate to acknowledge things in simple ways and in age-appropriate ways," explained the Duchess on one of the many video calls she's made to connect with the public.

Having a routine

While the Cambridges would be the first to admit that they're luckier than most, with help from their Norland College-trained supernanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo and acres of space at their quarantine base, Anmer Hall, they still found it useful to set up "a pretty strict routine".

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In fact, the routine was so successful that they neglected to tell George and his siblings that the Easter holidays meant they could take a break. "I feel very mean," laughed mother-of-three Kate. Other problems arose because their eldest didn't understand why his sister got to do cookery projects like making 'spider sandwiches', while he had to focus on literacy skills.

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Having fun in the Cambridge household is a priority

Having fun

Play's a priority at Anmer Hall, located on the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. The royal parents use online games and creative resources to create fun moments throughout the day, "so it hasn't been all hard-core". The result is a happy home and memories their daughter and two sons will cherish for a lifetime.

"Kate looks very happy and I should think she's really enjoyed having this time at home," says royal commentator Ingrid Seward. "She usually does a lot of travelling, so having this extended period in one place and being with her children and her husband in the country has probably been really nice for her. They have a lot more freedom at Anmer than at Kensington Palace, which is a bit of a gilded cage."

Getting stuck into activities

Every parent knows that children need to expend energy, and if you don't keep little ones busy they're likely to run riot. Anmer has plenty of options for outdoor fun, with a tennis court, swings and a pond. On Mother's Day, the Cambridges released a picture of themselves running piggyback races with George and Charlotte on their backs.

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Kate later laughed at the stamina her tireless trio have. "You get to the end of the day and you write down the list of all the things you've done in that day: you pitch a tent, take the tent down again, cook, bake," she marvelled. "You get to the end of the day – they've had a lovely time – but it is amazing how much you can cram into one day." Agreeing, William said: "We've been for the odd walk, odd bike ride as well, keeping the children busy and active and healthy. We haven't quite done the Joe Wicks workout that everyone else seems to be doing, but we aren't far off that probably. That might happen at some point."

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Princess Charlotte volunteering aged five

Giving back to the community

Helping other people is a great way to foster empathy in young people, and communities pulling together has been one of the positives to come out of the pandemic. Just as his mother Princess Diana showed him, William took George and Charlotte to visit the most vulnerable. The family spent a couple of hours bagging up fresh pasta and delivering food parcels to elderly people as part of Sandringham Estate's volunteering initiative.

Kate opened up her personal photo album for Charlotte's fifth birthday, showing the little girl knocking on the door of one delighted local resident. Although it was pouring with rain, the Cambridges spent time having chats at a safe distance with isolated pensioners along their route. The children also took part in the weekly clap for the NHS and painted pictures of rainbows in solidarity, which quickly ended with Louis and their mum covered in paint.

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The children joining the Clap for Carers movement

Keeping in touch

Their family "have loved keeping in touch" through video calls, with Prince Charles particularly keen to do so. Maybe like some grandparents, he's even been telling the children stories over Zoom, as Camilla says that is his forte. Of course, technology has its pitfalls as we've all found, especially since Louis doesn't understand that his help isn't required to work the equipment. "It gets a bit hectic, I'm not going to lie, with a two-year-old," Kate said. "For some reason, he sees the red button and he always wants to press the red button," added her husband.

Leaning on each other

William says that while parenting can be very demanding, he and his wife, "support each other and we go through those moments together". As someone who suffered the trauma of losing his mother when he was young, the future King has urged the whole country to look after their mental health in this trying time.

Addressing the subject for a new documentary, he talked about how being a parent is a life-changing experience. "I think that emotionally things come out of the blue that you don't ever expect or that maybe you think you've dealt with. Having children is one of the most amazing moments of life, but it's also one of the scariest." If this pandemic has revealed anything, it is that the hardest times can also bring out the best in us, and that goes for family life too.

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