Being a parent is never an easy job but enduring multiple lock downs caused by Covid it can feel even more challenging. Until enough of the population is vaccinated so we build up herd immunity snap lock downs may become an inevitable part of our new normal. Being aware of this does not make things any easier when life grinds to a halt again. Here are some practical ideas that will help you get through with your family’s wellbeing intact.
Keep your expectations flexible
The changes in your family routines caused by lockdown are unsettling for everyone and emotions may run high, especially if you are trying to juggle remote learning with working from home. Be flexible with your expectations both of yourself as a parent and of your children. Do not stress about remote learning do what you can but if it leads to arguments take a break and prioritise your child’s emotional wellbeing and their bond with you. The emotional wellbeing and mental health of your kids, and you, are way more important than education right now. Kids are always learning incidentally through play and activities they do at home, so do what you can manage and don’t stress you don’t get everything from school completed.
Develop a routine
When we are stuck inside day after day, time can seem to drag by, and our wellbeing can be significantly impacted. Developing a routine where the day is divided into manageable chunks that are assigned to certain activities helps create a sense of structure and normality. A good routine should contain set times for home learning for school-aged kids, regular physical activity, family time and sleep routines that includes consistent bedtimes.
Move your body
Keeping physically active plays a huge role in keeping us mentally well. Regular exercise release feel good hormones like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins that help reduce stress and improve our mood. Make the most of the time you can be outside get the whole family outside for a change of scenery, dance to your favourite songs with your kids in the lounge room, play with your pets or take them for a walk, do it in shifts if you need to so everyone has a chance to get outside and connect with nature.
Humans crave connection, we are social beings so when we have to spend extended periods socially distanced at home it’s vital that we stay emotionally connected with friends and family. You can help your kids do this over the phone, on Zoom or via social media and other online tools. When kids are away from their friends at school it can be especially hard but reminding them that they still have a support network around them can help them stay positive.
Turn off the news
Turn off the constant bombardment from all forms of the media as it makes children more worried, anxious and stressed. Stories on social media and the internet can often be misleading and incorrect so we need to be the source of information about the COVID-19 for our kids. I’m not saying we have to be ignorant or switch off all media entirely I simply want you to be aware of where you’re getting your news from and be very selective about your media diet and that of your children.
If you find yourself struggling and need a helping hand, make sure you reach out. If you’re in an area impacted by lockdowns, you can now access 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychology sessions for your children (or yourself) – contact your GP for more information. Kids Helpline, eheadspace and smartphone apps like Niggle, Mood Mission, Smiling Mind and Headspace are also available to provide extra support to young people if they need it. There are also local school and community neighbourhood groups that offer help. It is perfectly normal not to be ok all of the time during these challenging times, you are doing the best you can right now and there is no shame in seeking help.