COVID-19 and quarantined at home with the kids?
Changes in routines. Mixed up schedules. Disruptions to our typical lives. These are only a few of the concerns that most of us, as parents quarantined with children are dealing with. Add to that list uncertainty of when it will all end, and I’d guess it’s a fair bet that for most of us that anxiety abounds. So what do we do about it? How do we talk to our children during school closures, social distancing and quarantine? We keep it simple, of course. We should be speaking honestly to our children, in an age appropriate manner, about their concerns and fears. We start by answering any questions our littles have openly and encouraging honest, age appropriate discussions about the science and the reality of COVID-19. We can speak openly with our children about what we are doing to keep our family safe. We can assure them that we are being careful, from handwashing to social distancing to do our best to stay healthy. We can lead by example and keep calm about our current situation. We can remember that while we don’t know when this will end, we do know that it will end. Most importantly, we can remember that our children model their behavior by watching ours.
How do we keep it together in the seemingly endless togetherness and changing norms? We can make a plan before emotions flare. We can decide to take a step back, and put some distance between the offending action and our reaction. Feeling like you are about to lose it? Try the following before coming unglued:
*Text a friend announcing you’re going to lose it – even if he/she doesn’t answer you back, it gives you a moment to “vent” before reacting.
*Tell yourself “I will keep calm. I will not yell.” Everybody needs a cheerleader from time to time, and hey, you can do it!
*Is your child’s behavior the source of your nearly exploding temper? Say “I love you.” This statement makes it a little harder to yell when we remember we actually love the tiny person standing in front of us.
*Make a rule for yourself to count to ten before yelling – or one hundred or five thousand! Whatever it takes!
*Change the scenery. Walk away. Walk outside. Just get moving in a positive direction.
Everyone gets exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious, and even angry from time to time. It doesn’t make us awful to experience negative emotions; it makes us human. It’s what we do when we are feeling out of sorts, and how we manage the intensity, that are important. Showing healthy responses to negative emotions helps teach our children that all emotions can be expressed and managed safely.
How about a creative outlet for some of that extra energy our quarantined, social distancing families might be experiencing?
*Take a walk! (Raining? Grab an umbrella and go anyway!)
*Paint a picture. (Not an artist? Paint one anyway!)
*Watch a family friendly movie. Or better yet, a marathon of movies!
*Read a book together.
*Blow some bubbles.
*Make sidewalk chalk art together.
*Play a board game, a card game, hide and seek, twenty questions, eye spy, any game you or your littles can think of.
*Build a puzzle.
*Make dinner together.
*Cut construction paper into little pieces and create a mosaic together.
*Make papier mache.
*Make up a story. Draw pictures to go with the words.
*Plant a garden.
*Make up a scavenger hunt.
*Get creative! It doesn’t really matter how elaborate or simple the activities are. All that matters is that you spend some time and love the ones you’re doing it with!
Perhaps the best way we can handle this current health crisis is one day at a time, and maybe some days one hour or even one moment at a time.
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Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!