We are living in unprecedented times. And let’s face it its a bit scary. If like me you’ve watched some scary videos from China; people falling down and left in the street, and others being dragged from their homes to be quarantined! Not to mention the pictures of the overworked Italian medical staff sleeping anywhere they can, risking their lives to care for hundreds of sick patients. Who would believe a few months ago we would be faced with entire countries being locked down to prevent a virus spreading.
So we are where we are and the schools are shut down to stop the spread, so here are a few ideas to help us get through this:
- Be practical: Worry in its self about the virus is not going to help anyone, being practical about it, taking action is the way to cope with the worry. What can we do? We all know about the handwashing, coughing into your elbow etc. If your child is anxious about it ask him or her to come up with ideas to make him/her feel better – distraction is always good but maybe helping you to wash their school item (pencils /rulers etc) or regularly clean the surfaces you eat off etc. If they are part of the solution it can help with the worrying. You can then remind them – ‘we’ve cleaned the things we needed to clean and we are doing everything we can to be safe’.
- Catch yourself: If you have a child or teen who worries in the house, you can limit how much you talk about it, how much of the news you turn on, and how much time you spend caught up in the topic of the coronavirus. We can so easily pass on our own worries and anxieties to our children, so catch yourself if you think you are triggering more panic and worry by the conversations you’re having.
- Teaching the kids: Well, let me say, I never planned on being a home school teacher, but I think there are some clever ways that our kids can learn. When I told my daughter that she may get work to do at home, she told me ‘Mam I think I’ll do it all in one day so that I can enjoy the rest of the time off’. Sounds good. Also, there is an app called Twinkl which is offering parents one-month free trial and cover all of the curriculum.
- New Experiences: If we have to stay at home, I will making use of the time. I will be teaching the kids something new, maybe some cooking, how to use the washing machine?, we will definitely try some arts and crafts too (the things we never have time for) maybe clearing out the wardrobes and clutter. A reward chart is always handy when there’s lots of free time.
- Limit TV & Screens: I had banned the tv for the last few weeks from Monday to Thursday, (I know! A crazy move that made me question my own sanity) I did it because it was causing so much fighting in our house and I couldn’t get them to do anything. It’s been tough going but they quickly accepted that I wasn’t giving in. They found other things to do… lego was built, dominos and card games were mastered, knitting projects were taken out. Rooms were tidied and at one stage the kids actually fought over who was next for the bath.
- New Skills: Duolingo – Teach the kids a new language – why not, if they’re young this could be a fantastic thing to spend time on. Do it while they are sponges.
- New routine: Plan the day – have a routine, otherwise, one day will just roll into the next (like the Christmas holidays). I’m going to make sure the routine involves everyone getting dressed and getting some fresh air, otherwise, insanity will kick in. The kids can still go outside – bounce on the trampoline or go for a walk.
- Community: Communities are already rallying and setting up parents who can look after other peoples children so that others can continue to work in the healthcare sector or other areas. Some are setting up groups who can deliver food or check in on vulnerable or older people. Ask yourself ‘what can I do?’
- Help others: As mentioned above a great thing can come from all of this – and that is the power of people helping others. A sense of community. A feeling that you can make a difference. What can you or your children do to help? It could be just making some videos or video calling family and friends to keep spirits up if you can’t go visit them or they’re feeling isolated.
- Positive attitude – We will figure it out: Kids thankfully are not catching the virus and the deaths of children have been almost zero. However, they could be carrying it. It’s going to take time to figure out what we can and can’t do… can we bring them places, meet up with friends? Is this time off a gift that has been given to us or a terrible burden? I know I’m not going to be able to work the way I would with the kids at home, but at the same time I can also do things that I’ve wanted to do but never get the time for. One thing is for sure, I will figure it and I can handle it.
Stay safe and stay sane!