Dear parents and caregivers,
We’ve been thrust into extremely difficult and unprecedented days.
For many, the stress of keeping you and your children healthy has been amped up with the worry of keeping your kids active, entertained, and educated while working from home.
How do you keep a business running smoothly, take conference calls, and keep clients happy, all while maintaining the emotional and physical health of your children and yourself?
Please be kind to yourself.
This is the time we need to fill our own cup first. While we naturally want to give our all to our kids, we won’t be of any help if we ourselves aren’t healthy enough to be of service to them.
Whether you’re working from home or unable to work due to the pandemic, whether you’re homeschooling or calling a “playcation” during this stressful time, three key elements can help you get through:
- Daily self-care
- Active play, every day
- “Time in” together with your family
How to find time for daily self-care
It’s important to do activities that improve your mental and physical well-being every day. Making such decisions on a daily basis is a kind recipe to find joy, manage stress, and to give ourselves the fuel we need to help others too.
Your self-care toolbox could include eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, spending time with loved ones, listening to music, meditating, keeping a daily gratitude journal, relaxing, or laughing through a funny movie or comedy special. It’s different for everyone.
Tip: Make a list of activities that make you feel happy, centred, fulfilled, or joyful.
Challenge your kids to do it too!
Enjoy active play, every day
We know kids need active play every day, but how can you do this when you’re stuck at home?
The good news is, it actually doesn’t take much to spark children’s imaginations. Here are some examples of active games kids can do at home that don’t require a lot of space or buying expensive new toys:
- Raid your odd sock pile and challenge kids to make up their own “sock ball” games
- Got chalk? Here are 8 games you can play on your sidewalk or driveway
- Take a walk around your neighbourhood (keep it interesting with these 10 walking games)
- Need to run off some steam before bedtime? Try these 13 games you can play in the dark
- Ordered something online recently? You may have found your best boredom buster yet: a cardboard box
Depending on where you live, you may also be able to play outside. At this point, we are being told that it’s good for our physical and emotional well-being to get outside as long as we keep at least two metres away from other people and off of playground equipment (due to the risk of the virus living on surfaces). A family hike, bike ride, game of hopscotch, or game of catch provide all with fresh air and the absolute necessity of keeping active.
Tip: Challenge your kids to write or draw a list of games and activities they like to play.
Stick it to your fridge, and coach them to look there for ideas when they feel bored.
Spend time together as a family
The bright side of having everyone suddenly at home all the time is that we get to spend more quality time together. This can be a time for special connection with the people we love best. Making time to connect and play together daily, without digital distractions, can help relieve stress and anxiety for everyone, especially children. Ensure that you keep the lines of communication open for kids to discuss any feelings they may be having with regards to not being at school or with their friends.
Tip: This is a great time to discover more about your kids’ interests.
They may have physical activities or creative outlets that you may find fun and interesting too. Join them in playing their favourite video game or to watch their favourite show, let your preschooler “teach” you how to throw a ball, or learn a new skill alongside your grade-schooler or tween.
The soothing effect of routines
Now that we’ve had a week or so to live in this state of isolation, it’s time to create a daily family routine that incorporates these key elements of self-care. Routines provide security, so that kids know what to expect and when. They provide children with a feeling of comfort and control—and parents too. Think of it as your family’s outline for the day, to make sure everyone gets time every day for self care, active free play and family time, while still getting work, chores, and schoolwork done.
Your COVID-19 routine could be a detailed schedule, or just a rough plan with a few ideas or reminders of things to do throughout the day. Whatever approach you choose, at the end of each day, don’t for one second feel guilty if you haven’t ticked off every box. If this month has taught us anything, it’s that life can shift at a moment’s notice.
2 responses to “Parenting through the pandemic: Simple tips to help you cope”
I thoroughly enjoyed your article “Parenting through the Pandemic…”. I am a PE teacher and I share many of your thoughts regarding physical activity and it’s importance during this time. I would love to ask you a few questions and would appreciate a direct email to discuss sharing your article. I look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Oliver, thanks for the kind comments! I’ll follow up with you by email.