Cancellations and closures. School’s out and you might be working from home (if you’re lucky enough to still have a job). The kids are upset and you’re stressed (to say the least!). You might think of all the times you said, “The world has been turned upside-down!” and now you really know what that means. You don’t know anyone who has the COVID-19 virus. Yet.
Amidst concerns for physical health, don’t forget to take care of your mental health. Your body, mind, and soul all play a significant role for a day in the life of your overall well-being!
8 am: Alarm goes off – thank goodness for teenagers who sleep in! Oh, good, I had a grateful thought; I am so GOOD at this mental health stuff. Will have to ask the kids what they are thankful for today. But, ugh, why even bother getting up? Whoops! Just get up and maintain a loose schedule. We can do this! Because we don’t have a choice!
9 am: Tell kids to put down their books and screens and PLEASE just finish breakfast so we can clean the clutter out of the kitchen. Remember that you haven’t had breakfast yet either and you’re also in pyjamas. Be grateful kids didn’t point that out.
10 am: Anything remotely educational counts! Reading? Rubiks Cube videos on YouTube? Playing the piano? YES – education! Print off a list of prompting questions to make the kids write something. Plead with them to go find a toy or something and let you get a little bit of work done.
11 am: Start feeling the frustration of working through constant chatter and try to remember why you ever bought any toys when nobody ever wants to play with them. Take a deep breath, make a cup of tea, and do 30 jumping jacks to burn your angst.
12 pm: That sort of worked. The kids got distracted for 30 minutes, but are now back looking for food. Someone wants ice cream for lunch and two are in a tussle to get to the fridge first. Lack of food = anarchy. Remind them we have lots of good, healthy food (#grateful). Try to decide what’s more painful: kicking them all out of the kitchen and making lunch yourself or designating one of them to make lunch.
1 pm: Managed to get everyone fed, with more or less healthy food, too! And then the ice cream. Kids helped clean the kitchen, so there’s that. Remind everyone that they get more screen time if they help with chores. Also known as better parenting through bribery. Try to sneak in a little work while they pretend to dust and clean the bathroom.
2 pm: Phone Mom/Grandma to commiserate for a few minutes. Wipe down the light switches while on the phone, just because it makes you feel better. Resist the urge to check Facebook, because you already know everything is closed. Get the kids to write an email to some family or text some friends.
3 pm: Get outside! Yes, young teenager, whose legs are so sore, you have to come on a walk or bike ride. If the 13-year-old continues at this current rate of decrepitude, he’ll be house-bound before he’s forty. Oversee a “forced march,” as he calls it. Be grateful that all three kids end up skipping down the path, singing like they’re stars in a private musical. Also, be a little embarrassed.
4 pm: You want screentime? Sure! Screentime for everyone! Get some work done.
5 pm: Apparently they want to eat again. Pull together an easy supper that everyone likes. Talk about your day, highs and lows. Channel your inner Mr Rogers and find the helpers in this situation. How can you be a helper? (Hint strongly to your kids that they could start with not fighting with their siblings.)
6 pm: Look at old pictures, play a game, or watch some TV together. Light a candle, snuggle under a blanket, read a book.
7 pm: Keep enjoying family time; try to stay patient while you separate the two kids who think they should both be in one corner of the couch. Or, get some work done while everyone watches TV! Kids will be fine.
8 pm: Get ready for bed – even teenagers! You made it through another day. Hooray! But now please go relax in your own room because there has been a lot of togetherness. Love you!
9 pm: Enjoy adult time – try to stay off screens and work – and unwind so you have a chance of a good sleep.
The days are starting to pass in a blur, so I want to keep my mental health goals simple.
- appropriate sleep, allowing plenty of time to unwind and trying to stick to a simple schedule
- good nutrition, with the allowance of judiciously chosen treats!
- exercise and try to get outside every day
- find some activities or hobbies you enjoy
- avoid unnecessary social media, news, and information overload
- talk about anything and everything with your kids and spouse
- share simple facts about the situation, but then move on to uplifting news or virtual experiences
- find a simple routine that will work with your family … and then be flexible with it
- plan something special that you might not normally do
- don’t stress trying to make life just like it was: find a new ‘normal’
- validate feelings; extend grace and patience
- connect with someone by phone or email
- be a helper; find a helper
Looking for more tips on how to keep your kids occupied during the COVID-19 crisis? Find our best ideas, activities and inspiration here!