Don’t panic! We may be in the midst of a pandemic, but you can get some helpful tips on how to help yourself and your kids make it through in the best shape possible, below.
Helping our children with their emotional wellbeing is essential during this challenging time. However, it is also important to remember that physical safety matters too. Of course, this means educating our children on how to keep their distance during social interaction, and the correct way to wash their hands.
It also means providing the resources our children need to stay safe in the world, such as hand sanitizer and masks. Fortunately, you can now get some fantastic reusable masks in cheerful designs. Indeed, such face-coverings are often less intimidating for your child to use than a hospital mask, which often has scary or negative connotations.
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Routines sound boring, but they can be lifesavers during hard times. With so many of us facing so much uncertainty, having a routine that we are familiar with can be a comfort, and help us to stay motivated despite the challenges the day may bring.
The big issue here is that most kids have had, or continue to have their routines disrupted, with many having to stay home from school, isolate, quarantine, and otherwise not see friends and other loved ones that do not share their home. With that in mind, creating a routine at home that can help support your child, and minimise anxiety is one way you can help them through this crisis.
Of course, the routine you set up will depend on both your child’s age and your particular family’s needs. Indeed, asking a teenager to stick to a toddlers routine will do more harm than good in most cases. Usually, the best approach to deciding how your child will spend their day at home when they cannot attend school is to involve them in the scheduling process.
You can even give them specific tasks that they must complete during the day and then allow them to set the times for these. In particular, younger children and those with special needs including anxiety, depression and Aspergers may benefit from a visual depiction of their daily routine.
Sleep is vital for your children’s well being. More sleep is also often needed in stressful situations, and I’m pretty sure that a pandemic counts! Of course, often the problem is that because the kids aren’t doing as much as they are used to in the day, they may not feel as tired. Additionally, extra stress and worry can easily creep in at bedtime and make dropping off into a peaceful sleep all the more elusive.
Happily, there are some tactics that you can use to work through such issues. The first is to set a regular bedtime for your kids. Yes, I know that this can be a point of contention, but even the oldest ones do well with knowing when they need to be turning off their devices and heading to bed. That is not to say that such bedtimes need to be ruled with an iron first, however. Instead, some flexibility on your part, particularly concerning weekends is a smart move.
Exercise is also another excellent strategy to help make sure sleep happens a little easier in the evening. Indeed, if you kids have had a good work out earlier on in the day, they are much more likely to be able to get off to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
However, it is also worth noting that exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect. Therefore, if this is the only free time for some physical activity, why not try a slow flow yoga that can help ease them into sleep?
While some of us have been lucky enough to avoid getting Covid-19, everyone has been impacted by the stress of the pandemic, and children are no exception to this rule. Unfortunately, for kids, this stress will often express itself in their behaviour, and they may be much more likely to act out than usual, something that can cause conflict within the home, and add to parents’ stress too.
With that in mind, taking a proactive and positive approach to your child’s emotional well being during the pandemic is a smart approach. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to promote a positive sense of wellbeing in your child by helping your child to manage their emotions.
Most of us prefer the ‘carrot to the stick’ approach, kids especially so! To that end, look for things you can praise them for, and even reward them whenever possible. After all, when kids feel good about themselves, they are much more likely to act in the right way.
Finally, if you find behaviour a real struggle over the pandemic, you may wish to consider adopting a time out consequence model. These can be particularly effective because they are focused on particular behaviors and not on the child’s character, something that can help to make the differentiation between being told off, and being ‘bad’ much clearer.
Such systems also offer clear consequences and provide an opportunity for parents to remain calm and in control despite the most challenging of situations. (Something that can make a positive difference to mom and dad’s stress levels, too, during this trying time.)
Sadly, one of the biggest challenges that kids have had to deal with during the pandemic is a crushing sense of boredom. Something that has arisen from having to stay home and not being able to interact with their friends in the usual way. The problem is that boredom can be a challenging nut to crack once it has become entrenched as it often causes lethargy and a lack of motivation to do anything at all.
With that in mind, steering the kids away from getting bored in the first place can be an excellent way of heading off any problems at the pass. To that end, planning home-based seasonal celebrations, and proving things for them to look forward is essential right now. Additionally, using a ‘bored jar,’ or having some activities like colouring books tucked away for emergencies can make all the difference.
While we all love to slob out, during a pandemic too much of this can get monotonous pretty quick. Instead, it’s a much better idea to spend some quality time as a family, or with individual kids doing a fun activity.
You could cook or bake something together, play a board game, play tag in the garden or even let your child choose. Indeed, by scheduling in regular family time you will benefit twice, as not only will you get to spend some quality time with your child, but you will also get to do something fun and novel as well.
Mom matters too
There are a good number of mom, dads, aunties, uncles, grandparents and other caregivers out there that are spending a lot of time worrying about the children under their care right now. Indeed, they are already putting plenty of time and effort into making sure their families are supported during the pandemic.
However, it is also important to remember that you cannot ‘pour from an empty cup.’ That is, as a caregiver, you also need to take some time to care for yourself as well.
Yes, I know that this can be far more of a challenge for many, that looking after the rest of the family. Still, taking care of your own emotional wellbeing is paramount. Therefore, if you need a treat here and there, want to take up a mediation practice, or even require some alone time without the kids to get you through, then don’t be afraid to go for it!