A parent's tips for managing family life in isolation
A mother-of-two shares her tips for managing family life in lockdown.
Get up and get dressed
This sounds like a simple one, but it’s really easy to stay in pyjamas and loungewear all day when you don’t have anywhere to go. I’m finding it really helpful to get up and get everyone dressed in the morning to give some structure to the day. I think this is particularly helpful for kids as it creates some routine, and I’d say the same about sticking to normal bath times and mealtimes if possible.
Go out for a walk
Of course you need to stick to social distancing guidelines here, but I’m finding that taking the kids out for a walk is really helping me to feel refreshed and to clear my head. It’s also good for children to see different scenery, as being cooped up inside the house at the moment is no doubt taking its toll on them too.
Take ten minutes to yourself
Try to find something that will occupy your children for a short while so that you can sit down with a drink and have a few minutes to yourself to clear your mind. If you live with someone else who’s able to look after the children for you, you could use this time to grab a bath or shower, go for a walk alone or just have a quick lie down to recharge your batteries.
Reset the expectations of yourself and those around you
If you are working from home during this period and trying to juggle work, childcare, home-schooling and keeping your house in order then please don’t expect too much of yourself! This is a very unusual situation – so don’t be afraid to explain to your employer that you need to manage your workload in a slightly different way to normal. Perhaps, for example, you can catch up on work in the evenings?
I have friends where both parents are working full-time from home, and they have found a shift pattern suits them well – so one parent logs on for two hours while the other occupies the kids, then they switch. Hopefully most employers will be supportive during this time and allow you to work flexibly to get your job done in the best way possible.
The same goes for chores
While there are some things that do need to be done such as washing and basic tidying up, does your home really need to be spotless when you can’t even invite anyone over?
Explain to your kids what's happening
Even though my daughter is only two-and-a-half, I’ve found it helpful to give her a basic explanation of what’s going on. She doesn’t understand why we can’t see friends and family, why she’s not going to pre-school and swimming lessons, or why we can’t pop out to the park or shops – but by telling her the basics about coronavirus, I’m at least able to give a reason for why things are a bit different at the moment. Obviously I’ve not gone into too much detail, but I’ve linked it to the importance of washing her hands to get rid of the germs and she sort of gets it now. You can adapt the explanation to suit your child’s age and understanding.
For tips on how you can go about having this conversation, take a look at our blog on talking to your child about coronavirus.
Keep in touch with friends and family
This is for your own sanity, as well as for your children to keep in contact with the outside world! I’ve found regular phone calls and video calls to friends and family have been really helpful in keeping us all entertained; we’ve even played an indoor scavenger hunt against each other and had a virtual family meal for my husband’s birthday! We’ve also made cards and written letters to grandparents which we’ve sent in the post to keep them smiling too.
Reset before bedtime
This is personal preference, but for me there’s nothing worse than getting up in the morning and being faced with a pile of washing-up from the night before, as well as needing to make breakfast for hungry kids! I prefer to ‘reset’ the house before I go to bed by washing up and spending five minutes tidying toys away so we can all start the next day on a positive note.
Focus on the positives
As we’re spending all day at home, I’m spending quality time with my children and doing activities I wouldn’t normally make time for because of my other commitments. My husband isn’t commuting to work at the moment, so he’s able to spend that travel time with us and help out with making dinner and putting our children to bed. I’m also trying to use this as a chance to slow down as I have a tendency to live life at 100mph. It’s quite nice going at a slower pace!
I haven’t done anything myself but I know lots of people who are using this as a chance to learn a new skill or work on a project they’ve been wanting to do for a while. Imagine the sense of achievement if you’ve ticked something off by the end of lockdown!
Where to find help
If you are a parent or carer and are worried about a child or young person's mental health, have a look at the for parents section of our website for tips, advice and suggestions on where you can get support.