Despite the uncertainty in the community, you can try to foster an environment that includes as much routine and predictability as possible. Below are some tips for managing children’s increased time at home.
1. Organize an all-involved validation of the situation
Validate both yours and your children’s experiences. Validation acknowledges how a person is feeling without agreeing or disagreeing. It shows children and adults that they are heard and helps them manage their emotions.
Acknowledge for your children that it may be frustrating, disappointing, and sad, that activities have been canceled or postponed. It also may be worrisome and stressful because none of us are sure when the return to more typical routines will happen. Let your children know that it is okay to have these feelings, and the family is going to do its best to make the most of these changes. Using “and” rather than “but” accepts both thoughts.
Like your children, you also deserve validation. These changes have likely turned your world upside down without sufficient time to prepare. You can feel exasperated and worried even when you’re trying to make the most of these experiences.
2. Plan their schedule, as if they were at the school, but make it fun
Although uncertainty is all over around, schools will certainly reopen at some point, perhaps sooner in some communities than in others. Sticking with a routine similar to the one practiced for typical school days will help make any return to school smoother, as well as give shape to each day.
Try to keep your children’s morning and bedtime routines the same as if they were preparing for school. Keeping meal times the same also can help. Create a daily schedule that is structured for your children. You can foster a sense of collaboration and control for them. For example, have a list of activities and let children choose when they happen.
Children like activities and, depending on their age, they have their favorites, such as choreography, drawings, and other artistic creations, sports competitions (like, who do more sit-ups?), or try their theatrical talent.
If more than one adult is at home, try to coordinate your schedules as best you can to work as a team by supervising your children’s programs when necessary.
3. Plan screen time
Encourage communication with other children, for example, classmates from your school. You can plan virtual play games for your kids with their friends, and FaceTime calls with family members during the after-school hours. Platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts allow kids to have virtual group hangouts, so there are still ways to stay connected to others while avoiding loneliness.
You should also plan time to connect with other parents online or by phone. Share and learn with them what activities have kept kids interested, or just to talk with them. Parents have so many experiences worth sharing! You will see that spending more time with your children is much better than you could have imagined! Remember that you are not alone; We are in this together, and we are doing our part as a community to support each other and stay as healthy as possible.