2020 has surprised us all, all over the world people are having to adapt to a new way of living, factoring COVID-19 and reducing its spread into everything that we do. Lockdown has enforced very different demands on family life.
Parents are now full time teachers and entertainers, whilst often juggling their full time job working from home or as key workers going out to help the nation keep going. Children and teenagers may be isolated from their friends and wider family, and many are now faced with unexpected financial issues.
With a bombardment of constant news stories – some tragic, some positive – and a stream of fake news, it is not surprising that families are finding this difficult, feeling worried and anxious, struggling with the uncertainty and the seismic shift in daily life and routines.
We have pulled together our five top wellbeing tips for families in isolation, to help you and your family navigate the mental challenges of the Coronavirus lockdown.
1. Talk to your children about coronavirus
As a parent you are not expected to be an expert epidemiologist! Don’t overwhelm yourself or your family by checking the news everyday, but educate your children on the basics so they understand what is going on.
Children cope better if they have accurate and age appropriate information. For younger children this needs to be simple and succinct, calm and reassuring for example: “people are poorly and the nurses and doctors are looking after them” but also focus on the positives, “we have more time to spend together as a family.”
For older children it may be appropriate to offer more detail in a calm, rational and factual way, focusing on the positive actions they can take such as hand washing and social distancing. For example: “there are lots of things on social media about coronavirus, some of them are not true. What would be useful for you to know about it? What are your thoughts on the measures we are taking?” Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts and worries with you, but also allow them to have a duvet day if they feel like it!
2. Create a routine as a family
Routine can be valuable in creating a structure to the day, the week, the month. This does not have to be in line with your usual routine, it can be adapted to suit you and your family. Think about what works for your family, it may be that learning is done in a formal school way or more informally, both are okay.
Without children in school and parents in the workplace, sometimes times of the day can get blurred and we forget to split the day out. Does it work for your family to have a set time for meals and bedtimes, or do you like to fit these around activities? Find what works or is ‘normal’ for your family and create a routine that fits everyone.
3. Ask your employer if you can work amended working hours
Your children and loved ones come first and you must try not to let work stress get in the way of that. If children feel ignored or sense you are stressed, this may lead them to act out or attention seek.
Many companies are offering differing working hours for parents and carers of vulnerable people. This may help families who are struggling to balance everything at once, without the fear of losing a job. This is a difficult time for everyone and if you can make your life that little bit easier, it could drastically improve family life.
4. Make some time each day to have fun together
Alongside learning and work, fun activities are important, going for a nature walk (restrictions adhered to!), dancing together at Oti Mabuse’s online dance class or playing a board game. Set some time aside each day, to use the isolation time to spend quality, light hearted time together. Wouldn’t it be great if you came out of the pandemic feeling closer to your loved ones and even having made some positive memories?
5. Time apart is important
Where you can, make some time for self-care away from the rest of the family. Self-care is more important now than it has ever been. This may only be 2 minutes of mindfulness breathing space using the Headspace app, taking time to chat on the phone to a friend, or having a long bath.
Even though we are in lock down, remember we all need space, boundaries and patience – we are not perfect!
Krysallis want to help in any way we can. We are delivering online and phone sessions for individuals, couples and families. We are also able to offer a significant discount on therapy sessions for key workers. Check out more information about our coronavirus support services here.