Just 11 months ago, none of us could have predicted what would unfold in 2020. There is no doubt that this has been a strange and challenging year for most people. As a parent, you’ve probably had to juggle working and teaching during a period, which has been confusing for adults, let alone children. As we adjust to the challenges 2020 brings us, here are some tips to help you navigate the coming weeks and months.
Adopting new routines
Many children feel more comfortable when they have a routine. With school and nursery sessions disrupted earlier in the year, for many of us, it was difficult to adjust to new routines and to adopt a structured approach to daily life while based at home. Although schools and childcare facilities are open, for most of us, it’s not business as usual.
Millions of people are working from home, and at the moment, it’s not possible to get out and about as much as we’d like to. If your children are at home, or they’re going to nursery or school every day, try and implement a new routine, which helps them to get used to new patterns, and explain what is going on. It may be confusing to see people at home, rather than heading out to the office at the crack of dawn, and children are naturally inquisitive.
Talk about any changes to your daily routines and try and manage your schedules as a family to make the best of the situation. You might find that you have more time to spend together if you can implement working schedules that fit in with school hours, for example. Try and recreate routines that are as close as possible to those your children are already accustomed to. This will help them to transition faster with minimal disruption.
Whether you have young children, older kids or you’re working from home, it’s crucial to have some structure to your days. Many of us are used to doing the same thing, day in, day out. While it’s nice to have a bit of a break from time to time, it is beneficial for health and productivity to introduce structure. Get into the habit of getting up and going to bed at a similar time each day, have a morning routine and figure out a daily schedule that caters to the needs of each family member.
Spending quality time together
There have been disastrous effects of the Covid-19 crisis, but for many families, there have also been silver linings, not least the chance to spend more quality time together. Before the March lockdown, parents often felt that they were missing out by leaving early and arriving home late and devoting the majority of their waking hours to work. The lockdown provided an opportunity to stop, slow down and enjoy having more time together. With restrictions still in place, and most still working from home, take advantage of the opportunity to be together and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be super-productive every day. There’s nothing wrong with having a lazy Sunday watching movies or baking when it’s pouring down outside.
One of the most valuable lessons we have learned from the pandemic is the importance of human contact. Many of us have missed friends and family members over the last few months. Socialising is hugely beneficial for children and adults, and it’s helpful to find new ways to engage in contact and keep in touch with loved ones.
With classes cancelled for babies and toddlers, look into solutions like going to nursery and explore options like Jennys kindergarten services to provide social interaction and a change of scenery for kids and make use of virtual communications. You can organise group calls to catch up with relatives and hang out with friends from home and you can plan virtual events to celebrate birthdays or special occasions. Reaching out can boost mental health and wellbeing and prevent isolation and it gives children a sense of normality when it’s not possible to see friends and family in the flesh.
Fresh air and exercise
There are few things more important than looking after ourselves and each other at the moment. One of the best ways to protect your health and mental wellbeing is to exercise on a regular basis. You don’t have to become a gym bunny and upload millions of videos of intense home workouts to social media, but it’s beneficial to try and be as active as possible.
Go out for walks, take the kids out on their bikes and enjoy the open air. If you enjoy exercise, you can also get involved in an array of activities online, including virtual personal training, dance, spin and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes and yoga and Pilates sessions. Exercise helps to increase energy levels and it can also be a highly effective stress-buster.
We are all in a situation we’ve never faced before, and it can be daunting to listen to headlines, especially if you’re worried about losing your job, running a business or paying the bills. When times are tough, talking is more important than ever. Try and encourage your children to talk about how they feel and to ask questions, and don’t shy away from opening up if you’re struggling. Talk to your partner, call a friend, speak to your family or contact a charity that provides support and advice. If you feel very low, or your anxiety is reaching a point where it is impacting your day to day life, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your GP. You can also try self-help techniques, including meditation, taking time out for hobbies, creative activities, breathing exercises and physical activity.
Nothing about life seems normal at the moment, but humans are adaptable creatures. With many of us navigating new routines and adjusting to staying at home and limiting social contact, it’s important to prioritise health and wellbeing, to stay in touch with loved ones and to try and introduce regular exercise and structure to each day.