COVID-19 is certainly creating change and uncertainty, unpredictability, and instability. Things don’t really make sense, do they? Your children are at home so there’s no routine and may not be for some time. Feelings might be heightened and you (and your children) may be tenser, stressed, or easily agitated. In addition, you may feel calm and relieved just to be at home being. Whatever you’re feeling right now is normal. So take a deep breath and try to live life simply, one day at a time. Here are some creative ideas to help all of you through this time.
Keep some simple routines in place through COVID-19
I think that every professional working with children all agree that setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you’re all at home all day. Children should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Try this healthy balance daily platter from The Yes Brain Child, by Dr D, Siegel and Dr Tina Bryson.
Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. Children who are anxious, benefit from knowing what’s going to happen and when. Expect to see children showing anxiety by:
- Being Clingy
- Having meltdowns
- Fighting more with siblings
- Struggling with moving from one task to another ( Transitions)
- Struggling to sleep at night or feeling scared at night
- Toileting and food issues
It may help to print out a schedule and go over it as a family each morning. Setting a timer will help kids know when activities are about to begin or end. Having regular reminders will help head off meltdowns when there is a transition from one thing to the next.
Free Download on what to say if any hot moments arise. Click below:
Have regular Family Meetings through COVID-19
Coming together may be very important throughout the next few weeks/months. Most families tend to implement when there is a crisis. Start with the positive:
What I like about today/week
The best thing that happened in our family today this week
What I am grateful for
What you noticed this week.
Further words of encouragement are:
- I am so impressed with how you are managing this situation, thank you
- You’ve worked really hard to clean and tidy your room, good job!
- I feel we are a close family when we work together to do this…..
- That’s a tough one, but I am going to trust you to work at it
- Thanks, you were really patient with your little brother today
- Thanks for preparing supper with me today, it really made a difference.
There is another blog on Family Meetings here
Use encouraging words for Chores
When we are stressed, it’s so much harder to be kind and encouraging. This could be the opportune moment for your children to help you around the home. Simple tasks such as bed making, cooking, cleaning, and gardening are all possible.
Be creative and exercise through COVID-19
Incorporate new creative activities into your routine, my background is in Arts Psychotherapy. Plan board games, puzzles, drawing, reading, and painting. Here are some more fun creative activities, I want to steer clear of ideas from the internet, who knows if it will continue to work):
Build a Scrap Sculpture
One of the most successful sculpturing activities I ever did with children what a called a Junk Sculpture. Collect all the junk at home ( great for tidying) Find a woodblock and let your children glue, staple, tape a creation. If you can spray it gold paint or just paint. This is great for all ages and children who may have special needs.
Make a Family Collage
Coming from the french word, it means pasting or hanging. You can use anything to put together. Ask your children to tell you a story about the picture.
Make a feeling or seeing a portrait of someone you know.
Choose the kind of materials that seem to tell you about the person.
Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise. Do online yoga or online disco dancing. Check out my friends Roz’s brilliant classes at https://www.discodance.co.uk/online-dance-classes Every weekday evening join Roz from 7 pm for a 10 minute online dance class where you will learn and practice a dance routine. It’s fun and great for everyone!!
Don’t forget simple games, Simon says, Statues, they have the added benefit of encouraging self-control.
Have a quiet calm/room place in your home
With no school or self-isolation, you are not going to be with the children all day. So don’t be the perfect parent, give yourself some space to calm. Ensure regular quiet times. You may even want to dedicate a room, space or use a popup tent. Make it smell nice, have cushions or books. Be clear that it’s okay and safe to have time apart. Remember your children may be anxious and want to be with you at all times.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Remember to be reasonable, kind to yourself. You are going to blow sometimes, just ensure you come back and say sorry.
Notice if you are giving yourself internal pressure to be the perfect parent. Everyone will be feeling the pressure, These are strange times. Be clear what your limits are, but realize you might have to relax them a bit ( to hold calm and peace) and reissue them when the context changes.
Manage Time and Sibling Rivalries through COVID-19 by Offering Special time.
All my clients know that I always recommend individual special time. If you knew that 15/20 minutes a day or three times a week could deepen your connection with your child, you would do it wouldn’t you. I know you are thinking well I play with my child all the time but this time, you allow them to choose what they want/control to do. ( No screens) and sit watch, wait, and wonder. Avoid giving them lessons or commands. The first step is to follow their lead, allow their imagination and creativity to expand, try not to impose yours. It’s especially helpful to offer to children when they return home from a separated parent and when there is sibling rivalry. You could initiate it by saying:
You know that I have not been giving you enough focussed attention let’s spend 15 minutes every day ot twice a week ( of course you can offer more, many of the parents I work with offer 20 minutes.
Ensure you all have plenty of Sleep
It might be hard to have regular sleep routine but I think it is important to gently follow your routine. You are going to be with the children all day. Knowing you are going to have down time at night will help you to get through the day. In addition, it’s a good time to remember that one of the very best ways to maintain a strong immune system is to get a good night’s sleep. (There’s a lot of complicated-sounding science behind why this is, but it has to do with “T-cells” being better able to fight infected cells when stress hormones are low. And stress hormones are at their lowest when we are asleep!)
It’s Daylight Saving On Sunday
The clocks are going forward this Sunday the 29th of March ( I will do another blog about this before then and hurrah for Spring we are all enjoying the sun) Even though we only lose an hour of sleep if you are already sleep deprived, this is going to hurt. According to the National Sleep Foundation may even make us feel as if we are a little bit jet-lagged for the first week. Tip:
Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning, this may help to trick your internal clock into thinking that nothing has changed and you can get moving.The clocks are going forward on Sunday UK
The natural rhythms don’t cease for COVID-19. So ensure you all have a healthy bedtime routine.
This is not the time to be making huge changes, decisions, ultimatums, or resolutions. This is the time to pause, go outside within limits and seek the support you need. For the community, I’m offering Facebook Live ( tomorrow I am offering a simple heart meditation at 9 pm). Join me then or contact me if you need support or want any questions responded too on Facebook live. I am also offering telephone and Zoom ( like Skype meetings) Parenting Support.
Remember to give yourself and your children a LOT of space, grace, and empathy as we navigate this together. Wishing you health and calm. Love Catherine