How to stay sane during COVID-19 Pandemic
posted: Mar. 17, 2020.
Many of you are cooped up at home, trying to avoid this infection. Some parents are trying to work from home while juggling kids doing online learning and littles out of daycare. We are hearing tales of people coming to blows over bottled water and dire predictions about the severity of illness, scarce resources, unstable economy. Spring break and travel plans have been changed or canceled. It won’t stop raining. Some of you are worried about your job, 401K, important canceled events and even getting toilet paper! The kids don’t have their extracurricular activities and you can’t even follow March Madness or other sports.
So here are some suggestions to help keep you in good spirits during this TEMPORARY situation.
Keep everyone on a routine with a bedtime, wake up time, get cleaned up and dressed, make bed, regular mealtimes, schoolwork time, recreational time, etc. Make an age appropriate daily schedule and post it. Teens especially need to keep on a regular schedule. No sleeping until 11am! Limit snacking to scheduled times. This is NOT summer vacation.
If you have kids doing online learning, make them an “office” where they have everything they need at their fingertips. Help them get started by organizing their day. Provide lots of breaks and break down assignments and work into manageable chunks. Provide support and encouragement as this is a new experience for them too. Make sure the workspace is in an area free of distractions, not in the middle of the kitchen or where they have access to the TV.
When kids get wiggly, whiny or distracted let them take a brain break and do some jumping jacks or other large muscle activities.
Keep the TV, social media and gaming in control. Set clear expectations about how much time and what content your children are permitted. Consider using access to devices as a reward that they earn by completing schoolwork and chores. Monitor their usage appropriately. Remember it is YOUR device that YOU give them access to. I am empowering YOU, the parent!
Remind teens that they will complete their work much more efficiently if they turn off the phone and notifications and work solid and steady. Then take a break to catch up with friends. Make sure they are keeping up with their work and completing all required assignments each day.
Model good citizenship by staying home when sick, reaching out to others, showing good manners when shopping for scarce resources (do you really need to buy all the toilet paper?) and helping elderly neighbors and relatives.
Brainstorm a list of things they can do in their recreational time that does not involve use of media. Here are a few ideas to start:
Sit on the porch with a cozy blanket and hot chocolate and read a book.
Ride your bike (helmet of course).
Take a walk.
Have a picnic (it can be on the floor on a blanket at home if it is raining – it’s still fun).
Make a scavenger hunt.
Turn on music and dance or sing.
Make a puppet show or play. Set up a theater and perform for your family or other (healthy!) children in the neighborhood. Or take your show door to door and perform for neighbors you know on the front walk Christmas caroling style (with parent supervision only for safety).
Practice soccer dribbling or play Nerf basketball.
Practice your musical instrument.
Do yoga (check out www.doyogawithme.com).
Pray and meditate together.
Play with your dog (though not if you are sick as there is some concern from CDC that the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted to pets – more on this as we know more).
Bake cookies (take some to a neighbor).
Offer to run errands for an elderly neighbor. Have kids make cards for neighbors and relatives who might be shut in for health or risk factors.
Play jacks or board games.
Do science experiments that you can find on Pinterest (okay I’m a nerd).
Art projects and photography (here is a good use for your phone) are always fun. Make a scrap book or photo album.
Clean out a closet or dresser drawers. Organizing feels good. Teach kids to sort things keep, donate, trash. Finding some no longer used clothes, toys and books to donate is rewarding.
Challenge kids to come up with recipes that use the odd things that are in the pantry when we can’t always get the usual ingredients.
Don’t feel responsible for entertaining your children. Once you have brainstormed some ideas, let them use their own imagination. You may be amazed at the things they come up with on their own! It is ok if they are bored. Boredom often begets creativity. Or you could suggest that they could clean the bathroom if they are bored (you won’t hear that complaint again!).
For heaven’s sake do not listen to the dire discussions on TV or the wild swings of the stock market. It is depressing, anxiety producing and changes nothing. Revel in this time to retreat from the world a little. Minimize exposure to these stresses to kids as they can internalize them more than you realize.
Connections with others and sense of belonging are essential for well-being of all humans. A time of isolation can be a vulnerable time for those with anxiety and depression. So stay as connected to others as possible while practicing social distancing.
And keep your sense of humor.
We would love to hear your suggestions and how you are coping!
Keep calm and COVID-19 on! This too shall pass.