6 things you must do as a parent to avoid the lockdown blues!
Suddenly our lives have been turned upside down. One day everything was normal and now, we’re expected to work and study from the confines of our homes. Instead of looking at this situation as grim, let’s look at it as a blessing in disguise to spend some quality time as a family. Now, with everyone in the house, it becomes much easier to bond like never before!
However, this extended period of restrictions will take a toll on all of us - physically and mentally. There’s a big chance your child, over the next few weeks, may show signs of irritation, boredom, fatigue and mood swings. Don’t panic! This is normal as they are yet to grasp the severity of the situation. It is important that you swing into action and take full control of the situation.
Here are eight simple things that you must do to ensure that your family stays healthy, physically and mentally!
Plan it out
Create a fun family calendar! Involve everyone in the activity and let your children take the lead. Help them understand how to manage different activities each day. This can also become a daily activity using stickers or colours. Creating different buckets for exercise time, movie night, board games, house cleaning, doing the dishes, etc combines play with learning and well-being too. The goal is for them to keep their mind and body active but also have a sense of accomplishment during the entire period.
Calm your nerves
Unlike before, when the children would be away at school or your spouse at work, everyone will be needing you 24 x 7. The inability to get some alone time might begin to get stressful but remember everyone is in this together! Your entire family is going through a multitude of emotions when adjusting to this new restrictive lifestyle. It is normal for your children to have mood swings, temper tantrums and may even demand ‘alone time’.
When you feel irritated or angry, just pause and breathe in and out for ten seconds. Maybe even walk away for a little while till you are calmer to handle the situation. Screaming and shouting will only make the situation worse. When they start to get restless, distract them with activities that are fun like games or a new book. You must also involve them in your household chores like washing dishes, drying clothes, cooking together, etc. so that they channel all that extra energy in the right manner.
Remember, you are the role model for your children. They will always react to how calm and composed you are, even in times of adversity. Raising your voice or scolding them will create a negative image so instead use positive words like, “Please” or “Thank You”. Praise them when they do things well. Maybe even create some stars that you give out when they help with all the housework. And, if you feel their energy levels are dropping then lighten the mood with some jokes or maybe even break into a family song and dance!
Communicate and be honest
Children, by nature, are very curious. With easy access to news on TV and the internet, they may already have heard something. It is natural to have a lot of questions and they’re going to come to you first with those questions. When they do, be honest about the situation and explain it to them in detail. Turning down questions or creating a false sense of security does not help our children.
Always answer their questions truthfully and age appropriately. Be supportive as your child may be scared or confused. Give them a platform to share how they are feeling and assure them that you are there for them at all times. There may be questions where we may not have answers and it's ok to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘this is what I think’. Use opportunities like these to research about the topics and build a stronger rapport with your children. This gives them an assurance that all of us may not know everything and it's important that we inform ourselves when we’re unsure.
Safety comes first
Once you’ve communicated the seriousness of the situation, it is important that you install certain safety measures they must follow, along with the entire family. Keep talking to them and remind them of the precautions that need to be taken. Tell them the importance of 20-second hand washing.
Make it a fun activity by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice to measure the time while washing hands. Indicate how it is crucial to keep the hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth to prevent infections. Also, when they cough they must do so by covering their mouth with their elbows to prevent germs from spreading. Social distancing is the new catch word and explain it to them what it means. Remember, when you practice these yourself, the children will automatically imbibe it.
Develop life skills, morals and good habits
Even situations like these can be used to your advantage. Use this time to develop some important values and habits in your children. Values like empathy and compassion are very important. Exhibit these in your actions and explain to your child why it is necessary during these times.
You could offer to provide tea or biscuits or a meal to some people in your society-security personnel or housekeeping staff or others near your area who do not have access to regular food. There could be senior citizens in your neighbourhood. Just calling them up regularly and checking on their health or any assistance that they may need in the form of medicines or groceries will set an example to your children on how important it is to care for others.
To sum it up, we could use this lockdown period to bring our families together and develop a strong bond, recognise and truly appreciate the humongous efforts of the health care staff and all other frontline workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe. Things may be very different after a tumultuous time like this. But, the difference could be a positive change for our families and the world. It is in our hands to decide that outcome. Take care and stay safe. This too shall pass!