We are over a month into lockdown and we may be experiencing a roller coaster of different emotions. We are over the initial shock of the virus and the changes it has made in our daily lives are perhaps now hitting home for them and for you. Looking forwards, the reality of a few more weeks of isolation with our families and young children may seem a long haul. While many children may be happy to be off school, they are aware it is not a normal ‘holiday;’ they may feel uneasy and worried, getting bored and missing their friends.
Perhaps a parent or parents are working from home, or are off work entirely. Tensions may be higher in the house than usual as everyone is under each other’s feet and there may be financial worries. There is so much advice flying around about how to be the ideal home schooling teacher, how to create the best crafts, how to cook everything from scratch… but perhaps you are feeling the pressure to be the perfect parent when in fact all you want to do from day to day is get through and survive.
There’s no doubt that being at home full time, without escape of your usual hobbies and friends, work, school and space from each other, may leave you all feeling overwhelmed, while trying to not let on to your kids and those you are supporting know about times when you feel frustrated or struggling to keep things together. There are also news stories all over- social media, radio and TV that children of all ages may be aware of. Older children will be exploring and gathering information themselves, sometimes hearing wild exaggerations and conspiracy theories.
So How Do You Talk to Your Kids and Provide Balance During This Difficult Time?
Remember you don’t need to be a superhero, just do what you can. Be sure to talk to your children honestly and openly about what is going on. It is important they feel comfortable talking to you about Coronavirus as you will be the best source of information and reassurance for them. It’s also likely they will talk to their friends or other children, exchanging false information, so being able to talk openly with you is even more important.
Be Truthful But Take into Account Your Child’s Age
It is good to be truthful with your children, while being economical with what you say, as children may have many worries around the virus, school, friends etc, and while keeping them informed is ideal, letting them hear the full extent of deaths etc through the daily news will only add to your children’s anxieties. Give your child space to ask the questions they need to. Quite often we won’t even have the answers for them about coronavirus, but it is important to be reassuring, and remind them that it will pass. Encourage your children to keep a journal and let them draw how they are feeling day to day. For younger children be aware when the news is on and turn it off or listen on headphones to limit their exposure to information they find upsetting.
Talk to Your Children When You Are Feeling Calm
The uncertainty can make all of us feel anxious or worried, regardless of your age. Make sure you are sharing your concerns with someone too. If you are feeling stressed, anxious or worried, what is the best way to help you feel calm? If you are at home, you can try our tension control training, breathing, relaxation, music, yoga, and taking daily walks in the fresh air. Talk to your children when you are feeling calm, it will help them too.
If you are struggling with keeping your calm, then try our free course Are you strong enough to keep your temper – Gain control over your anger or irritability in 3 steps (123 breathe). Or access the ebook here.
Tension Control Training (TCT) is a is a useful self-help relaxation method designed to enable you to learn control over anxiety. With practice, you will slowly begin to manage unnecessary anxiety in real life situations in order to reach a state of calm. Try our tension control training recordings HERE.
Activities for Primary School Age Children
Be realistic about what you can do in a day with you children. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to achieve lots of activities. Don’t compare your efforts to what other people are sharing on social media. Keep a calm environment, and enjoy this time with your children. If you have the time, use it as an opportunity to do activities with them. If you are working from home, and struggling to find the balance of managing the kids with your workload, go easy on yourself and find activities that they can do while you are working. Then spend time with them at intervals when you can during or after your work.
We have created a list of activities which we think can help when at home with the kids. If you are working, activities like scheduling in a daily chat time with their friends or letting them take a virtual tour of a museum may give you some space to work.
In saying that, when you have a some time to spend with the your kids, make it count. You will not win prizes for ticking off the most activities during isolation, but your kids will remember the nice things you did together. Coming together as a family to do things is very good for you all, and you can go back to your work or house chores after, whether it’s going for a walk, getting some gardening done together or making a special pancake breakfast at the weekend. Take a look at the Living Life to the Full list of Things to Do with Primary School Age Children HERE.
Set you and your family realistic and achievable goals, be realistic about the hours you can work from home while the kids are off school. Being happy, and maintaining the wellbeing of all your family members during these tough times is an achievement in itself- so use it if you can as an opportunity.
Although we are living in each other’s pockets, we can use this time positively and make up for all those times previously where perhaps our busy lives didn’t allow us to see each other as much. Remember that we won’t be in lockdown forever. In the meantime, check in with your family and friends, listen to them and show them you take their worries seriously. Ask how people are managing, and share your experiences too. Asking can help people including yourself, to open up and explore feelings.
The Living Life to the Full Team