We all love our kids, but let’s face the truth – parenting is hard enough without being stuck indoors with restless and bored kids. There are meals to serve, emotions to manage, and the stresses of remote schooling to navigate. What’s more, with one or both parents working from home and the global situation changing on a daily basis, nerves have already worn thin.
Given everything, it is understandable if you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious! Just know that you are not alone. Parents all over the world are trying to navigate quarantining with kids. It’s a tough situation to be in, but here are some insights and tips that just might help you manage things better.
We are all social animals and need human interaction and connection. While schools were open, the academic and extracurricular routines drove much of our children’s social engagements. With distancing measures in place, it is understandable that kids crave interaction with their friends.
Letting them stay connected with their peers through Zoom, Skype and conventional phone calls helps release tension and brings normalcy to their day. If they are stuck on school-related work, let them problem-solve through a video call to recreate a classroom environment. Equally, set up weekend calls with their friends to help your kids relax, unwind and socially engage (distantly) with their friends.
Stick to routine
Sticking to a routine helps structure your child’s day and makes them feel safer. Recreate a school timetable at home with fixed start and finish timings. Schedule breaks in between for meals, snacks or time away from digital devices. Giving kids a weekday routine keeps them oriented and focused on a goal.
If there was ever a time to take on a group activity as a family, it’s now. If your residential area allows late afternoon walks or bike rides, set a time daily to get some fresh air and exercise. A change of scene can do both kids and adults a world of good. Engaging in some family cooking time is another great way to bond and teach your kids some valuable life skills. Try out new recipes for cookies, cupcakes, and brownies.
Sing and dance – music is a great stress releaser! Alternatively, dust off those shelved board games and puzzles and make a weekend ritual out of Ludo, Carrom, Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Risk or Trivial Pursuit. Even that trusty old deck of cards can be a lifesaver right now! It doesn’t matter what activity you undertake, try to think of spending this time with your kids as the precious opportunity it really is.
It’s tough enough processing all this as an adult, so imagine what it is like for our children. Talking to your kids about the challenges they may be facing can help them articulate their emotions and feelings better. Use positive affirmations whilst reinforcing that it’s ok to feel unpleasant emotions, like anger, fear, and sadness.
One thing we keep hearing is how kids are glued to digital screens during quarantine. Whilst it may be easier to let them carry on endlessly, as the adult, you need to set limits.
Too much screen time ultimately becomes counterproductive. It interferes with sleep patterns and is terrible for kids’ eyesight. Instead, encourage a fixed routine of daily reading, creative play, and physical activity. If kids want their digital devices so much, let them earn them through chores and productive activities.
Just remember, though, that it’s not only the kids who have to walk away from their devices, but the parents as well. There has to be transparency and fair play!
Keep Calm and Carry On
Your children look to you as the adult to model and mirror their responses during these trying times. What you say and how you behave will give your kids confidence and reassurance. Counting your blessings and giving thanks is a good way to keep positivity in the household. If you keep an optimistic outlook, they will follow your script.
It is important to note that, for you to be in a mentally positive place, you must make time for self-care. Set realistic, achievable goals and allow time outs for meditation and reflection. When you are emotionally grounded you are in a better place to navigate parenting and adult responsibilities.
Lastly, just remember this: no trying situation can go on forever, and this too shall pass. Our kids will resume schools and we will go back to busy days of test schedules and sporting matches. However, the memories you make right now with your kids will be ones they will hold forever. So, if that extra scoop of ice cream or chocolate is the difference between giggles or an argument, put the rules aside once in a while. Take a big bite yourself, sit back, and enjoy.