So here we are, still at home with school remaining out, all due COVID-19 and keeping each other healthy and safe. Yet, how do we keep our household happy and calm with everyone home and getting annoyed? We have tried lots of tips and tools to keep busy, entertained at home, and calm, though we still hear yelling from the living room, arguments about dinner, and anxieties turning to frustrations. The big tip is to continue to communicate with our children and learn what we could be doing for ourselves and those around us. Here is also a more expanded list to consider when you’re at home with all the kids:
Validate and call out your children’s (or own) fears. Be honest about how this situation is not great because they are away from friends, school, and other family. Ask how they are feeling and probe a little to get them to share. Remember the saying “feel to heal” or for all the Frozen fans out there “reveal don’t conceal”. You don’t have to fix your child’s feelings but just validate and allow them to share.
If you have an anxious child or children who are having a hard time grasping their “new normal”, assure them that you are all in it together as a family and they are safe. Limit the news on the television and give them short facts, so they are not overloaded but feel confident themselves and the ones they love will be fine.
Be sure to calm your own fears before talking to your child about theirs. Be able to communicate and model the attitude you want to see in them.
Have a schedule for the day. Create a chart or white board with what the day will look like. Your child is used to schedules with school and need one to feel the control of what comes next. Apart of this scheduling, is also getting up, showering, and getting dress. As much as we love our pajamas, it is hard to work seriously in them!
Assign tasks to do around the house. Write them down too! Try not to look at the tasks as chores but ways to keep the household moving and it will give your child accountability for their own time in the house.
Try to get outside at least once a day. Depending on where you live, this can look like walking around the block, playing in the backyard, or creating something fun in the driveway. The fresh air and movement will do everyone good physically and mentally.
Create time in the day for you all to have a break from each other and do separate activities. We are not used to being together 24/7, so by creating space we also create time for those frustrations to calm. It is also important for parents to find time alone for themselves. If you model this stress reliever, your kids will follow. They will be okay alone for awhile and it even promotes autonomy and self-sufficiency.
Allow siblings to lean on each other for help and support during this time. It can be a great source of bonding moments for siblings to work together. Let them fight it out and work it out, then also allow them to ask each other for help versus always coming to you.
Do something for the community outside your home. We your kids are thinking of someone else and helping beyond their own struggles, their anxieties will decrease, and sense of purpose will increase. Plus, you are helping someone who will appreciate it!
Think of something positive each day or share something that went well. Finding things to be grateful for will help your children focus on the positive.
Keep remembering as a parent, you are not alone. Also remember, your children are not alone in their questions, fears, and restlessness. We are learning how to get through this time together. If you are feeling overwhelmed being a new teacher at home, remember you just need to be the parent, they still have a teacher. If you feel like you are being too “scheduled” when normally on the weekend you relax, remember they are used to schedules during the week and thrive, etc. This period won’t last, and you will make it. Last suggestion…come up with a family motto or phrase that is encouraging or funny that reminds you all that your family is one and will get through this!