Are you tearing your hair out being stuck at home with little ones?
Are you wondering how on earth you can cope with this lockdown for another day let alone a few more weeks?
Believe me….You are not the only one.
This whole situation is obviously beyond crazy and we need to take one day at a time to get through.
Here are a few thoughts on practical things as Mums we can all do to help our children feel secure and rested and to help our sanity whilst we’re at it.
Our usual routines have been turned upside down but it is possible in these crazy times to create a new routine and stick to it. Setting a routine and structure offers many benefits, especially if your child is involved. Knowing the order of what will be happening each day gives children a sense of security and knowing what to expect next makes them feel confident and helps put their mind at ease. Think of some anchors that you can set for your day that you all enjoy doing. Do your best to try and stick to your routine, there’s a lot to be said for keeping things consistent and predictable but don’t beat yourself up if things don’t quite go to plan one day.
Children are likely to have lots of excess energy to burn off. Being stuck in the house all day, with no playground to run around in will mean that you may need to get creative with thinking of ways to tire them out. If you are able to, getting outside is a really good idea. Getting out in the sunlight early in the day will help maintain circadian rhythm and getting fresh air will help general wellbeing. A brisk walk or a bike ride will help use up some energy and may even help them sleep better. If it is not possible to get out one day, make use of the fantastic online exercise classes such as PE with Joe on YouTube which has helped bring physical activity into the daily routine in a fun and accessible way.
Skip the lie-ins!
Many of us are not having to get up early for work or to do the school run and it can be tempting to turn off the alarm and enjoy a lie-in. Even if your children are up early, it can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas and have a slow start to the day. However, predictability and structure are a huge comfort to our children so even if we don’t have to be up and out at a certain time, it’s still a good idea to keep everything on schedule.
Again, it is a good idea to be consistent with your mealtimes as well. A regular pattern to eating helps set our internal body clocks and so will help our children keep to their schedules. Try to keep an eye on what they are eating close to bedtime as well. Too much sugar at this time will leave them with too much energy to burn and they will find it difficult to get off to sleep. A banana and wholegrain bread would be a good snack for supper.
Have fun together
Try not to put too much pressure and expectation on yourself or your children. We do not need to spend every hour of our day doing schoolwork. Building relationships, enjoying shared activities and reassuring children are all equally important parts of the equation.
Being able to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress is half the battle. It’s not just us as parents who may be feeling stressed, in these tough times our children may be having their own stress response. So try to be aware of your own emotions and find a way to calm down that works for you. This might be through listing to music, breathing exercises, mindfulness or journalling. Feeling calm and grounded will put you in a stronger place to recognise your child’s stress and to find ways to support them. Try to help your child label their emotions so they can start to recognise and feel more comfortable with these feelings.
We all know too much screen time is not good for our children but without all our usual distractions of going out it may be necessary to up our screentime allowances slightly. There are loads of educational games to access and this might just mean the difference between a peaceful afternoon and a major meltdown. For slightly older children, we can help children to manage how long they are spending on screens each day. Allowing them to use WhatsApp or Facetime for example can help children stay in touch with their friends and could make a big difference to their quality of life. Please remember, screens emit a lot of blue night which can interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythm so make sure your children (and you) have screens turned off two hours before bedtime.