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The world is going through a hard time right now during the COVID-19 global pandemic, and millions of families are adjusting to life in quarantine together at home. This new “way of life” comes with some pretty huge challenges for both parents and children alike, and it’s important not to be too hard on yourself or your kids during this stressful time.
Some days you might enjoy spending the extra time together as a family, but other days may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle where the only solution is to prop the children in front of a screen for a couple of hours so you can at least take a breath. This is ok. You’re not a bad parent. It is natural to be overly tired, stressed, and even overwhelmed. Cut yourself some slack and focus on what you can do to make staying at home as stress-free as possible.
Knowing how to handle some of the challenges that come with quarantining with kids will give you a leg up on the parenting ladder, and help you make the best out of a difficult situation. Below we’ve detailed a few key strategies you can put in place to help you get through this.
Keeping organized during a time when disorganization and uncertainty is the rule of law is important. Set your kids up with a realistic and easy to follow a timetable that will help replicate the routine of a school week. Kids need structure. They crave it intrinsically (even if they fight you about it). Keeping them on a schedule similar to that of their “normal” school day is a great step towards maintaining control and getting through each day.
Organize their learning day into sections depending on what they’re studying. Structure each subject into clear blocks of time, with regular breaks and a clearly defined ‘end of the day’. Sticking to a routine is key in making sure your kids feel secure and life keeps on moving in a manageable way for all of you.
Daily schedules can also extend outside of the designated school day. Slot in time for your daily allotted exercise outdoors and make it a fun family activity. If they’re older, create a block for things like screen time, chatting with friends online, and playing video games.
Try to get the kids involved when creating their weekly timetables. It can be a fun craft project you can do together, it gives them ownership of their schedule and can help to keep them motivated and stay on track.
You aren’t expected to have all the answers. No one does. This is an unprecedented time in our lives and something none of us has gone through before. The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help.
Utilize the wealth of online tools, content, and learning resources that can help to take the pressure off you. There are tons of great apps and websites available for every subject imaginable, and many of them are free. These can be an invaluable treasure trove of supplementary material and educational material to help teach and keep your child engaged with learning at home.
As well as the traditional subjects like math, English, and science, try to balance the learning day with topics that interest your child. For example, if they have a particularly creative flair, this is a great time to nurture that passion and encourage them to explore their artistic interest more deeply.
If you’re struggling for ideas, don't be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher for a little extra guidance and help along the way. Chances are they’ll be more than happy to help point you in the right direction.
There is likely no time in your life when it has been so important to get and stay healthy. We hope that you, your children and your loved ones never contract COVID-19. One way to ensure your immune system is performing at its very best is to get adequate sleep, reduce stress, eat a healthy well-balanced diet, and get regular exercise.
Daily activity and exercise are paramount to you and your children’s physical and emotional wellbeing. A good workout or even something as simple as a brisk walk every day can do the world of good for your body, but it also stimulates serotonin and clears away the mental cobwebs.
Learn More: Baby Proofing Your Home Guide
Use some of the many free online workouts and physical education lessons that are all over the web right now, and follow along together as a family. Classes like Zumba and Bodypump offer a fun and vigorous workout that both kids and adults can enjoy and benefit from.
You can also create a ‘quarantine challenge’ for you and the kids. For example, a 30-day jumping jack challenge, where the number of reps is increased every day for the duration of the quarantine. Children enjoy the element of competition and everyone loves setting themselves a challenge and achieving a goal.
Yoga is another fantastic form of exercise that can be practiced even in the smallest of spaces. It’s a great way to calm the mind, it relieves stress, and it equips you with some tools to cope when things feel tough at home.
Your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being is important for not just you but also your family. Although it can sometimes feel impossible, it’s important to get just a little bit of time to yourself each day, even if that's stealing just 10 minutes to meditate, take bath or workout.
Another way to give yourself a well-needed boost is to take time out to video chat with friends and other parents who are in a similar situation themselves. You can swap tips, vent to each other if you’ve had a bad day, and you’ll feel less isolated and more connected to the outside world because of it.
If you’re working from home, consider how you can break up your day and divide your working hours around activities and chores with the children. Perhaps you could do a couple of hours in the morning, a couple in the afternoon then finish up in the evening when the kids have gone to bed. Depending on the type of job you have, see how you can work flexibly to make your day as stress-free as possible.
Don’t feel guilty if your ‘me time’ occasionally means giving in and letting your kids watch Frozen for the 2nd time in a day; these are challenging times, and though as parents we have the best intentions, sometimes taking the easy route is ok.
Quarantining with kids can be hard work, and some days you might feel stretched to your limits. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself and remember that you’re doing the very best that you can in a tough situation. We hope that by following the advice above, you’ll have some new strategies to help you make the most out of the time at home as a family, and get through these testing times together.