Nurturing kids at home
As schools close and employees go work-from-home to prevent the spread of the Covid-19, parents everywhere are struggling to keep children positively engaged. If you’re anxious about how to protect and nurture kids through this crisis — often working at the same time — you will do good to read on. Here are my compilation of tips to help kids calm fears, manage stress and maintain order at home. I live in an apartment building and have to manage everything within my flat.
The first tip from every expert is to setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you’re all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Planned and structured activities are calming during times of stress. Kids, especially younger ones or those who are anxious, will benefit from knowing what’s going to happen and when. It takes away one dimension of uncertainty from their day. You can do better by mimicking a school schedule, changing activities at fixed intervals, and alternating periods of study and play. It may help to discuss the schedule and their opinion every day. They can also contribute by suggesting activities, which can be managed within your house. It will also take away their feeling of losing control for not being able to go out.
Create innovative activities
Include new activities into your routine, like doing a puzzle or having family game time in the evening. In fact, a few household works can be assigned to kids, which they will enjoy while lessening the burden on you. Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise. Do a yoga session every day and throw in some meditation. Help kids know that certain amount of anxiety is such situations of lockdown is quite normal. I also use Zoom or other such applications to invite all extended family members and we play some fun games such as Tambola or Draw and guess.
Control you Emotions
It’s completely normal to be anxious right now, even for grown-ups. How do we conduct ourselves in these circumstances, has a big impact on our kids. Keeping our worries in check will help everyone around us to manage through these uncertain times easily. The uncertain employment situation and depressing news all around can sometimes make us feel low and irritated. Sometimes, we may be extra sensitive to a family member getting a fever or a cough, which would have been normal otherwise. Please try to be as calm as possible in such situation and take a logical route to thinking. Understand that a child receives signals from your behavior and your panic reaction can be extremely discomforting for him. For those moments when you do catch yourself feeling anxious, try to avoid talking about your concerns within earshot of children. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and take a break.
Limit screen time
Another useful tip is to keep news consumption limited. We all know how the media in India operates and very often we see instances of over-jealous reporting. Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts. Take a break from social media or make a point of following accounts that share content that take your mind off the crisis. While information is important, too much and wrong information can cloud your though process.
Use virtual support network
Keep your support network strong, even when you’re only able to call or text friends and family. Socializing plays an important role in regulating your mood and helping you stay grounded. And the same is true for your children. Let the children interact with their friends on calls and/or video calls. Teach them to use some of these newly emerged tools responsibly and safely.
Plans to handle contingency
important to understand that Corona virus can affect anyone anytime despite best of precautions. In the face of events that are scary and largely out of our control, it’s important to be pro-active about what you can control. Making plans helps you visualize the near future. How can your kids have virtual play dates? What can your family do that would be fun together? What are favorite foods you can cook during this time? Make lists that kids can also contribute. Observing your planned approach to solve a problem situation will go a long way in inculcating these values in the kid. An important tip here is to assign kids tasks that will help them feel that they are part of the plan and making an important contribution to the family.
The adults may feel that a long school vacation is problematic, but for children universally, the school closure is a cause for celebration. So let it be like that at the moment and help them slowly move into home schooling for this period. Most of the schools have started online learning modules that help children keep connecting with the studies. Let kids understand how you stick to your office schedule despite working from home, and follow the same. While schools are closed and that can be cause of happiness, they need to understand quickly that studies have to continue.
Give right perspective
The fact that there are a lot of things which are changing our daily routine can be unsettling for kids. They will have questions. Things like, why can’t they go to playground or why the maid is not coming home will be in their minds. Some of the kids may ask, while other may not talk about it. Make sure, you give them the right perspective in clear terms, instead of giving them an answer which goes around. If you are keeping distance from a neighbor who is in quarantine, make sure that kids know what does it mean and why is it done. Please ensure that there is no dishonour attached to it.
It’s OK to give some liberties
It is important for us to appreciate the fact that these are not normal times. Allowing a little more screen time to your kid is just fine. Sometimes, let them do what they are looking to do instead of saying no. You, probably would not have allowed a particular action in normal circumstances but, these are abnormal times. It is affecting everybody. So a general tip here is to “Follow the route of least resistance”. Let them at times fulfil their wish, even if it means taking extraordinary liberty. There should be an understanding at times between the spouses to take turns in keeping tab on kids’ activities.
Ask for help
These are times when one should be open to ask for help. There can be different types of issues facing one and it is alright to accept one is feeling weak sometimes. You should know as to whom you can reach out to. It could be your spouse, a friend or a relative. This is especially applicable when you need someone’s support to manage kids while you are stuck with some important official work.
These are some tips to manage and support kids in Covid times. I am sure we all will come out of it unharmed and on the other side of this all, we will exchange notes on how we managed to nurture our kids during these times.