Olympian David Gillick’s Isolation Motivation tips

By | April 2, 2020

The Olympics may be postponed until next year, but David Gillick’s back garden is playing host to a multi-sport extravaganza during the coronavirus shutdown.

The 2008 Olympian has turned to sport to help keep his two children entertained and active.

With schools and creches closed for the foreseeable future, as government and healthcare workers battle to halt the spread of the disease, the big challenge for parents is stopping themselves and their kids from succumbing to cabin fever.

Gillick has a number of helpful pointers for mums and dads across the land.


David’s son Oscar plays an improvised game of skittles

“I’m working from home, I’m self-employed, a freelancer, and that has its own challenges,” said the two-time European Indoor Championships gold medalist.

“My wife works from home too, so we’re all in the house together.

“Charlotte sat down and drew up a timetable for the week – simple things like, get out of bed at 7am and have breakfast, get changed and do an activity.

“That means getting out into the garden or going for a bike ride, or even do something in the house.


“We had some old cardboard, a big box, so we cut that up and Oscar (4) got a pen and drew a road on it. That entertained him for a while.

“I try to get the kids outside as much as possible, to get as much fresh air as we can. That helps to tire them out.

“We play games, little things. Oscar loves being chased, he loves running.

“So what we did one day was we got all the tinned fruit and beans out of the cupboard, all the pots and pans, and we made a couple of circles.

“He stood on one side and me on the other, he’d run around and I’d try to catch him; simple things like that.

“Another one is to use the tinned food for a game of bowling. Get a hockey ball or a football, something a little heavier than a tennis ball, and see how many tins he can knock down.

“Another one we did was we got his bigger toys, a fire truck and a dumper truck, and we lined them out as hurdles.


“Then we got him to run, go down the little slide in the garden and run back, and we’d put a time on it.

“He would do it, I would do it and then we’d race together. When the kids see the adults do it with them, it gives them a buzz.

ON YOUR MARKS: David and Oscar get set to race

“Olivia is younger, she will be two in August, so we’d line the smaller toys out, maybe five of them spaced out in a line, with a bucket at the start line.


“They’d run, pick up a car, put it in the bucket and go for the next one, over and back. Olivia would only have half the amount to pick up.

“It sounds like I’m a competitive days, pitting them against each other, but they love that sort of stuff. Then their mammy and daddy do it.”

It’s not all go, go, go in the Gillick household.

“We are lucky in that Olivia still goes down for a nap in the afternoon, for roughly two hours, so that’s. When we let Oscar watch a bit of TV,” explained David.

“We’re active in the morning, then a bit of chill out time and then we do it again in the afternoon.

“And we have to tie in our own work at the same time, so Charlotte will do two hours work while I entertain the kids and then I’ll do two hours’ work while she entertains the kids.

“Look, it’s a bit of a plan, and I’ll not lie, by the time it gets to 8pm I am wrecked. It catches up with you.


“That’s the big difference between now and a few weeks ago; you aren’t getting your little breaks in over the course of the day.

“Before everything closed down, you might get a cup of tea in between work and picking up the kids.

“But when it’s full-on, 24/7, and you are trying to juggle more than before, if you can just map out your day a little bit, it will help.”

Oscar picks up the item and races back to throw it into the bucket

With the UK going into lockdown this week, we could soon find ourselves in the same boat.

Until then, the Gillick family will continue to make use of outdoor facilities – while all the time maintaining that crucial coronavirus-fighting social distancing.

“If you can, get to a park if one is still open nearby,” said David. “Bring a football, have a picnic, just entertain the kids.”

He added: “Something that I have really noticed over the last few weeks is how Irish people have really come together.

“People are very conscious of what is around them. 

“This goes back to mental health – when you help someone else out, you feel better yourself.

“So you can look at it from a selfish point of view – how can I help myself? By helping someone else.


“These are strange times and there is a lot of anxiety out there.

“But if we take it day by day – and you don’t have to come up with new things all the time – we’ll get through this.

“I found myself constantly looking at social media. You get sucked in doing that, you put pressure on yourself.

“Just do whatever works for you. Strip it back, keep it simple and have fun.”