Are you stuck at home with your children in the midst of the COVID-19 Coronavirus shutdown? Here are some tips to help parents cope with the Coronavirus situation.
Wherever you live, chances are, the Coronavirus outbreak has affected you in one way or another. Whether you are faced with school closures, stuck at home, or trying to avoid bringing your children to crowded places, here are some useful tips to help parents through this period:
1) Address the elephant in the room
First and foremost, your child is likely going to ask you about the Coronavirus situation. Allow your child to ask questions openly, give them the space to air their concerns. Some of them may be confused with all the sudden changes, unhappy about staying home or fearful of the unknown. As a parent, stay calm and focus on helping your child feel safe. Let them know that mummy and / or daddy are around, and this family will support each other through this period.
Organizations like UNICEF also suggest to use this opportunity to draw out teachable moments with your children - "Explain that COVID-19 has nothing to do with the way someone looks, where they are from, or what language they speak. Tell your child that we can be compassionate to people who are sick and those who are caring for them. Look for stories of people who are working to stop the outbreak and are caring for sick people."
2) Re-establish your family routines
Routines are how families organize themselves to get things done, spend time together and have fun. With work-from-home arrangements and school closures, most of our daily routines have been disrupted. Try your best to quickly re-establish new family routines around daily tasks including waking up and bedtime, doing homework / online-learning, meals, and activities. Let your children participate in the planning so they feel involved and accountable to whatever is agreed as a family. Remember to account for breaks, leisure and free time! The point is not to squeeze all you can into a tight schedule, but to develop a structure within your home in the midst of the rapidly changing circumstances outside.
3) Help your children stay connected
Despite the plethora of “social distancing” measures, it does not mean that you should cut all contact between your child and the outside world! Your children have social needs that their peers and others beyond your family may be better positioned to serve. Even if your family is stuck at home, there are plenty of ways you can help your children stay connected with their friends and the wider community. Try using video conferencing tools to organize an online party for your children and friends to connect once in a while! Even better, perhaps start a gift-exchange within your community and have your children and their friends send letters and presents to each other!
4) Start a family project
Make use of this opportunity to get started on a fun family project! Doing things as a family helps to create stronger bonds and forge meaningful memories. Well-designed projects can spur the curiosity of your children, develop their creativity and problem-solving skills, and encourage collaboration. Some easy activities include cooking and baking together, reading a book as a family, or cleaning up the house together.
For parents with more time to spare, try getting creative with your children via DIY projects. You can use recycled cardboard and materials around the house to build your very own DIY house, TV, boat, toy car, and all sorts of cool gadgets. Don’t worry if you run out of ideas - Pinterest, Google and YouTube are full of them! Remember to save or photograph your work so that you can put together a family art gallery or portfolio with all your creations!
You can also consider putting together a Family Time-Capsule. Grab a jar or box and insert meaningful objects, photos, letters to yourselves and anything else you hope to keep as a family memory. Label and seal the container, then put it somewhere (or bury it) for opening as a family at an agreed date in the future.
5) Stay positive
Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. Watch out for each other by regularly asking how everyone is coping. Remember to give yourself ample rest, continue with exercise where possible, and maintain a balanced diet. Hold on to the positive aspects in this situation - being able to spend more time together as a family, enjoying more home-cooked food, catching up on movies / books and more.