Stay at home' adjustment tips for parents, children
COVID-19 presents challenges well beyond the obvious health concerns. Many adults are working from home or home dealing with the stress of unemployment. Many now have the added duty of around the clock childcare, no small task in ordinary times. Now, with the “stay at home” directive, there are the added duties of providing schooling, exercise, entertainment and the need to keep the peace as close quarters require our best manners. Here are some things to keep in mind while managing family confinement.
Create a family schedule and stick to it even though it may seem unnecessary when no one is leaving the house. Keeping a regular timetable provides predictability and a sense of normalcy. Children, like adults, are calmer when they know what to expect and when things will happen.
The Child Mind Institute recommends adults keep a check on their own anxiety not just for themselves but also because children will pick up on those feelings. Anxious children, especially very young ones, will often act out. UNICEF recommends parents allow children to process their worries by talking about them. Parents should acknowledge children’s concerns rather than trying to minimizing them.
The Child Mind Institute recommends parents step away from family members when they are feeling overwhelmed by going for a walk (by themselves), taking a shower and deep breathing. If they can, parents should trade off with a partner and allow one another a break from demands of 24/7 childcare.
As tempting as it is to watch news reports, limiting exposure to television news can keep negative thinking at bay. While filtering the news for your children is important, remember to also keep them informed with developmentally appropriate information. Experts recommend that at a calm, appropriate moment, talk with children about what’s going on with COVID-19. Fact-based communication keeps catastrophic thinking from happening and decreases fearfulness.
If children are worried about themselves, and they might be because children are naturally egocentric, reassure them there are scientists and doctors working hard to keep them well. Help children feel empowered over their health by teaching them habits like sneezing and coughing into the crook of their arms and washing their hands with soap while singing the ABCs.
Find ways for everyone staying at home to stay connected to friends and extended family using social media. Instruct children in the often unused art of letter writing. Experiment with grandparents skyping or telephoning a bedtime story.
Plan with children not only daily activities but discuss and visualize together what you want to do in the near and distant future. Planning helps adults and children feel in control, a comforting sensation during scary times.
Most of all, its recommended that we relax, let ourselves and our families be imperfect and flexible while adapting to these unique times.
Activities for the whole family: plant a garden, learn about new cultures by cooking with new ethnic recipes, take a walk or a hike, camp in the backyard, watch the sunrise and sunset, write letters to seniors in local nursing homes, write thank you notes to local healthcare workers, compose a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, clean out the garage or basement, learn a new language (free apps available), knit, crochet, paint the fence or house, research family history, create a play, practice yoga, photograph the same plant each day, bathe and groom your dog, read to one another, make clay bowls and vases, pray and meditate together,play board games, and put together a puzzle or a quilt.
Family activities are only limited by our imaginations and our willingness to step away from our electronic devices and try something