In most places, it has been more than a week since schools have been closed, and we have been asked to “stay home,” due to the coronavirus outbreak. As a mom, I know how difficult this all can be on you and your kids.
Here are some tips on how to best deal with kids at home in “corona quarantine.”
First of all, before we get into some at-home activities to keep you and the young ones from going completely bonkers, here are some reminders of how to talk to your kids about the outbreak.
You may not see it, but you have to realize that right now since kids can’t run up and hug their grandparents, or see their friends and teachers at school every day, that is going to inevitably take an emotional toll.
Dr. Roya Ijadi-Maghsoodi, a child psychiatrist and UCLA suggests “setting up Facetime dates, phone calls, talking about the other kids they’re friends with, looking at pictures, or drawing something to send their friend, or grandma and grandpa.”
She goes on to say that the best thing you can do right now is to, “validate your children’s feelings by acknowledging that it’s hard not to see their grandparents or other loved ones. Explain in an age-appropriate way that we’re taking these measures so that people don’t get sick.” And she says to really emphasize that, “While we are not sure how long this will last, it is temporary.”
How to Best Keep Your Kids Occupied During the Corona Outbreak
Teachers and child psychologists like Ijadi-Maghsoodi, say that the best way to both allays your children’s fears about the virus, and also keep them occupied while stuck at home is to create and stick to a routine.
The best way to do that is to emulate the same routine they had at school. Try to wake them up the same time they would get up for school, and arrange the day into the same kinds of “periods,” breaks, and recess, as they would have during a normal school day.
Author Susie Allison is a former teacher and mom of three. She suggests that you use – school as the framework and honor what had been your child’s routine:
- When are they used to having breakfast? Snack? Lunch?
- When is recess?
- Break the day into small chunks much like school does with subjects.
- If your child has assigned schoolwork, do they work best in the morning or afternoon?
She goes on to say that “Once you’ve mapped out times for things like food and school assignments, you’re ready to fill in the rest of the day, and actually carving out time for dedicated child-led play, which is huge for kids. When a child is imagining, creating, building or inventing, they are doing some serious learning. In your new daily schedule, have a few 15- to 30-minute blocks (more or less time depending on your child’s age and play development) of dedicated child-led play.”
As for “screen time,” especially for older kids, that should be allowed, particularly as it may be the only way for social craving teens to be in touch with their friends. However, Allison says that too, needs to be scheduled and regulated.
She says in order to keep your kids from “over-indulging” on screens:
- Make screen time predictable: have a set time in the schedule so children know when to expect screen time (like while you make breakfast or before nap time) and for how long.
- Turn it off: Follow through when the scheduled time for screens is over, and don’t leave the TV on as background noise. If the house feels too quiet, turn on some music instead.
- Outside of the scheduled time block, only use screens when you (the parent) chooses it because you need it. Save screens for big moments, like when you have a conference call or dinner prep isn’t going well.
In addition, of course, make plenty of time for reading, and outdoor activities — as long as they are allowed by your particular community — such as hikes, bike rides, swimming, and nature walks.
Good luck, stay safe, wash your hands, do not touch your face – and STAY HOME!
Do you have any other “corona quarantine” tips you would like to share? Please reply using the comments below!