Being stuck in quarantine isn’t easy, especially when you have little ones! Mange this period smartly with our Tips for Handling Home Isolation with Kids.
We live in strange times. In fact, even our grandparents probably don’t remember a time when the entire planet was completely shut down, except perhaps those who lived in war zones. A time when no one goes to work, no one goes to school, and when we’re all hiding from an invisible enemy – unprecedented times indeed.
With state governments and eventually the central government declaring a complete lockdown in the country, we’re all stuck at home with our families. Not being able to go outside and do our regular tasks is frustrating for us already, so imagine how it must be for little kids who’re bursting with energy!
Quarantine isn’t easy, but this too, shall pass. In the meantime, we can make the most of this period we’re at home without driving each other crazy. Who knows, maybe this is actually a blessing in disguise for many families!
Tips for Handling Home Isolation with Kids
Explain the Situation
The very first thing to do as a parent in this situation, is to stay calm. No, it’s not easy, and the uncertainty of everything is enough to induce anxiety in anyone. We don’t know for sure when this is going to end, what the financial picture is going to be like and how badly we’re all going to be affected. What we do know, however, is that we have the power to control our reactions, and indirectly, the reaction of our children.
Depending upon your child’s age, explain the situation to them. They know that school and exams have been cancelled, and it’s because of something called Coronavirus, which is bad (even though it got classes cancelled). Tell them that it’s something that can get them sick, and we’re all staying home for some time so the virus can’t get to everyone.
Don’t give too many details – most kids are satisfied with just a basic explanation. Unnecessary information will only create panic and that’s the last thing you want to do. Be matter-of-fact when explaining things and assuage their fears calmly. Older kids may have got a bit of misinformation from friends – clear these by checking reliable websites like the WHO or CDC. You can even do this together, so your child learns from an early age where to get reliable information from.
Stick to a Routine
A routine is a great way to establish a feeling of security and stability, even if the world seems to be falling apart. That’s why routines are advised even for newborn babies – who’re among the most unpredictable people ever! The same is true when you’re all in home isolation, when we don’t have school or work timings to guide us through our day.
Try to set up a routine that’s similar to your regular one, especially with regards to bedtime and waking up. Kids still need enough sleep, especially since it’s an important part of boosting immunity. Let younger kids take their naps as they usually do, so they don’t end up cranky.
Make a daily schedule that’s not too regimented, but is rather based on time blocks. For instance, a time for reading, a time for playing with toys, story time with Dad etc. Be sure to include unstructured, free play time when the kids can do whatever they want. You can try a routine for a few days and tweak it as you go so you’re all comfortable with the new state of things.
Involve them in Household Tasks
With everyone being on lockdown, it’s likely you’re having to do all the household chores too, unless you have a live-in maid who’s sharing the lockdown with you. This can be an added stress for parents, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to inculcate some life skills in your kids. Just think: if your parents hadn’t taught you how to do chores, what would you have done in the current situation?
The kitchen is one of the easiest place to involve kids, even little ones. Sorting groceries, putting things into the fridge or taking things out of them, measuring ingredients, washing and peeling fruit or vegetables are all things every child can do. Older kids can try their hand at cutting and making simple dishes on their own.
Clean the house as a family. Put some music one, assign each person a task and you’ll be surprised at how a mundane chore turns into a fun activity. Kids can dust, wipe down shelves and tables, straighten cushions, make beds as well as sweep and wash dishes. Little ones can learn to put away their toys and books and do a general tidy up.
Take Turns with your Spouse
The Coronavirus situation is stressful for everyone, whether they’re a stay at home parent, work at home parent or someone who works outside the home. Managing a full time job along with little kids while also taking care of household chores simultaneously is impossible, and you’ll only end up doing a bad job at each.
Instead, let both spouses take turns, so that one can attend a conference call while the other one helps their child make pancakes. Or one spouse can bathe the kids while the other one catches up on some work. Both parents can follow the same concept for some me-time or self care too.
Staying in isolation is particularly hard on new parents who’re away from their families. It’s very important here to make things as easy as possible since everyone’s sanity is at stake! Get an electric breast pump so Dad can also feed the baby. Choose whatever arrangement suits your family, whether it’s co-sleeping, baby wearing or anything else related to baby care.
Connect with Relatives (while Social Distancing)
The current lockdown is for 3 weeks, but the fact is that many of us have already been under lockdown for a week or so before this one started. That’s a long time to stay away from your extended families and friends.
Everyone is talking about how this is a war-like situation, but we have one thing people didn’t have during WWII – technology! Make the most of video calling apps to stay in touch with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Set a time everyday to talk to them – it could be a different person everyday so everyone involved has something to look forward to. Surviving isolation is a lot easier when you know others are in the same boat!
You can also connect with your kids’ friends over phone so they can chat for a while about what they’re doing. They could probably exchange ideas about things to make, watch or read. This will be a huge relief for kids who aren’t able to go out and play with their buddies.
Don’t Start Homeschooling
Schools have been cut and we don’t know when they’ll start, so it can be tempting to worry that your child will be left behind his or her peers. But that worry is completely unnecessary, since everyone else is going through the same stage.
If you’re thinking that this is a good time to get a head start, that’s not a bad idea, but don’t start homeschooling all of a sudden. It’s only going to add more stress for both parent and child, and we all know how stress can lower your immunity – a valuable resource in these times!
Instead, focus on other kinds of learning. Plant seeds and watch them grow. Learn how to measure in grams and milligrams. Look at how yeast makes dough rise. Learn how to sew a button. There are endless opportunities like these!
Use Screens Wisely
It’s not realistic to ban screen time completely during this lockdown and it’s not recommended you do so. Instead, you can use screens wisely so it’s not just mindless gaming or mind-numbing videos. This is a great time to watch some classic movies with kids – maybe you can introduce them to your childhood favorites!
Along with these, there are several documentaries, online courses and even virtual museum tours – all of which have been made free now that classes are being missed due to the pandemic. Here are some of the resources to check out:
- Free books from Audible
- Virtual Tours from famous museums
- Fun games and puzzles from PBS Kids
- Online courses from Khan Academy
- Inspirational speeches at TED Talks
- Visit famous places like the Louvre, the Smithsonian, the San Diego Zoo, the Yellowstone National Park and the Great Wall of China.
Include some Physical Activity
Kids aren’t allowed to play outside and if you’re in an apartment that means their movements are restricted. But sitting put for so many days on end is not good for their physical or emotional health. Make sure to include some kind of activity every day. It could be something simple like doing jumping jacks or bear crawls. They can do these every time an ad comes on TV. If you have a stepper, then TV time is perfect to get in some movement.
Another option is yoga, which is great to calm the mind during such trying times as well as build concentration and focus. There are many videos on YouTube that are specially catered to kids, and make physical movement a fun task. Here are some of the options to try:
- Cosmic Kids Yoga
- The Kiboomers
- The Kidz Bop
- Debbie Doo
- The Learning Station
- Pancake Manor
- Move to Learn
Haven’t we all heard that necessity is the mother of invention? Well, a child stuck in quarantine will have no option but to rely on his imagination, and thankfully, kids have a lot of it compared to us adults! While regular art and craft supplies are great to keep them busy for a while, let them experiment and think outside the box.
Maybe they can think of ways to revamp an old piece of furniture. Or maybe they can get together with a parent to build something new. If they have their own rooms, they can try redecorating it from scratch with things they make themselves. Older kids can learn to use the sewing machine.
There are so many videos and websites dedicated to kids’ crafts that it can actually be overwhelming, so start small. You can even sign up for PBS Kids’ daily newsletter that has tips and tricks for creativity and to pass the time. No matter what kind of supplies you have, there’s sure to be something you can make with them. You’ll be surprised at how creative our kids can be!
You must be wondering why we didn’t mention this at the beginning! The fact is that most kids are bored of their toys, especially if they’re not open ended. The best thing to do now is to put away at least two thirds of their toys so they have just one third to play with. The second week, give them another batch while putting the current one away, and repeat for the third week.
This way, you can make sure that they’re not fed up, plus they’ll be delighted when they get a new set every week. Another thing to try is to make them look at toys in different ways. Maybe the Barbie is a paleontologist and she’s discovered dinosaur fossils, or maybe the toy soldiers need to be attended to by a Lego doctor!
This is a difficult time, not only in our lives, but in the lives of everyone around you, across the globe. Don’t worry about making everything perfect or packing every minute of every day with an educational activity. Sometimes just going with the flow is the best thing we can do at this time. Let’s stick to the government guidelines of staying indoors and social distancing, while also maintaining the WHO guidelines of hygiene. With a little planning on our part, we can make this lockdown period a memorable and happy time for the whole family.