Parenting in the Time of Coronavirus

How to support your kids during the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are certainly living in unprecedented times. And while the childless are going on about how much extra time they have to teach themselves knitting or French, those of us with children are possibly finding ourselves now working, parenting, and trying to teach from home. We’re also keeping our young ones entertained in the same space day after day, while also trying to keep some sense of normalcy and answer their (many…) questions. Here are some tips for addressing questions and maintaining everyone’s sanity during the upcoming weeks at home:

  1. Find age-appropriate answers to questions – Children have a LOT of questions, even during the best of times. They will have plenty of questions about why they have to stay home, why people are wearing masks, etc. Make sure they understand what causes people to get sick. Give them honest, age appropriate answers. 
  2. Find a routine – Children (and let’s face it, most of us) are very routine-driven. Finding a new ‘normal’ will be much easier when there are some guidelines for expectations. Smaller children, especially, need to understand expectations and boundaries. Your new routine doesn’t have to be exactly the same as the previous, nor does it have to mimic the school day, or be “perfect”. Just a rough schedule of what to expect day-to-day.
  3. Get time outside – We all need a change of scenery from time to time. It’s a beautiful time of the year, and getting some sunshine and exercise will help improve everyone’s mood. If you have a yard, make sure kids get plenty of time to play outside. If not, take time to go on walks, bike rides, hikes. State parks are still open, so find opportunities to get some sun and exercise – just remember social distancing guidelines and stay at least 6 feet from others. 
  4. Get help – The phrase “it takes a village” has never been more appropriate or more challenging. We don’t parent in a vacuum normally, so know that you are not expected to now. While people may not be able to physically show up to help you, there are plenty of resources to help. Whether you need emotional or psychological support, have questions about schooling, need ideas on how to help kids burn energy, or have questions about how much is too much screen time, there are resources for that. Don’t feel like you have to know it all or do it all yourself.
  5. Express the importance of hygiene – We’ve all recently become extremely aware of just how frequently we touch our faces. And while it may be nearly impossible to stop touching your own face, let alone get your child to stop touching theirs, you CAN teach them and enforce the importance of proper and frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and to keep from picking their noses or putting their hands (and other objects) in their mouths. 
  6. Get creative – Find ways for kids to burn energy with video dance or yoga classes, have them learn something new like how to program or a new language, challenge them to create something new from the recycling piling up, and even get them to learn and help with chores. We’ve got some fun coloring pages for kids and adults here
  7. Give yourself a break – It’s OK if you don’t remember your high school algebra, or your kids are spending more time than normal in front of a screen, or they are going to bed later. Your life will look different right now, and that’s fine. Don’t forget to try to carve small bits of time out of your day to care for yourself. With everyone in the same space all the time, and limited chances for personal time, it’s important to acknowledge your own needs and emotions. Take a bath, get up before the kids and exercise, step outside and call a friend, schedule a video game night – whatever will help you feel connected and relieve stress.

Stay healthy,
Dr. Dad