It’s been a month or so of this new reality. Social distancing and self-isolation has turned all our schedules upside down. And for parents of young kids, that means a whole lot of chaos and moods. However, there is a lot we can do to make sure our kids get a wholesome life experience even during this very surreal way of life.
In this article I will go through the essentials that I include in a typical week to make my kids enjoy and learn from our days of social distancing.
Follow a routine
Children behave best when they know what to expect. The predictability of a routine or a set timetable gives them comfort and causes less anxiety. Hence try to start the day the same way and end it with a solid bedtime routine. Encourage kids to follow a timetable. For example, keep more educational activities in the first half when their minds are fresh, and more physical activities in the second half when you need to tire them out for bed! Repetition of this basic schedule helps children understand what is required and reduces tantrums considerably.
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Since all of us are staying indoors and our activity levels have decreased quite a bit, avoiding junk and maintaining a healthy diet is essential. The healthier we eat, the more active and fresh we can be the whole day. Try your best to make majority food at home and keep all basic food groups covered throughout the day ranging from carbohydrates, meats, dairy, fats and starch to fruits and vegetables.
Let’s admit screen time for kids translates to some me time for us adults, which is essential for our mental health. It is unrealistic to expect parents to engage with kids all the time without social lives or play dates. So revise your old rules and take each day at a time.
It’s natural for children to want to jump around and create a mess whether that’s through arts and crafts or just free play. In these trying times don’t expect them to be robots. Let them create and imagine. In Pakistan, most houses have a garden so let them explore. And if you don’t have the great outdoors, create a space within the house which is safe for mess and fun.
I recommend some kind of physical exercise at home for all kids. It is the best way to get their bodies energised and fit. It also helps them get a good night’s sleep. YouTube channels are a great resource for this. Whether its cardio through dance, or yoga, be sure to spend at least 30 minutes exercising.
Read more – Coronavirus: Six tips to manage self-isolation anxiety
Even though in theory us parents are with our kids day and night these days, are we really spending quality time with them all day? The answer is no and it’s normal. To think that every hour of the day will be filled with family bonding is unreasonable. In actuality, working parents are juggling between work, homeschooling, and daily chores. And stay at home parents are doing a lot of different tasks too. So take 30 minutes to an hour away from chores, work, and your mobile phones and give quality time to your kids. Whether that’s through board games or reading books together – the point is to give your children your undivided attention and make memories.
Fresh air is a blessing now more than ever. Spending at least 15 to 30 minutes outdoors is known to increase happy hormones and relax anxious children and adults. So if you have a garden or any outdoor private safe space, use it! Go out for evening chai and snacks. And if you don’t, try to open your windows and sit by them for a little while to watch the blue skies. It will help your children feel better and appreciate a change in scenery.
Staying connected to God
One of the major advantages of being a Muslim is that we are reminded if the presence of a higher power at least 5 times a day. Use this opportunity to b teach your kids about Islam. Pray together if you can. Hope and faith are things that create positivity in all of us, so keep it alive as much as you can.
Staying connected to friends and family
Thanks to technology today, we can stay in touch with family and friends all over the world. Try to connect with your favourite people at least twice a week. This helps maintain relationships and helps children remember their old bonds. It creates a sense of sanity and reminds us that we are not in this alone.
The workload around the house has definitely increased for all of us since everyone is home all day and some of our temporary domestic help can also not come in. This means more food needs to be cooked, more laundry piles up, and in short more mess. In my opinion, these are all signs of life and laughter. So a family that uses and abuses the house together, should also clean and cook together. Encourage kids to help in all types of chores. This serves as an activity and helps pass the day in a productive way.
Lastly, despite all of the above, there may be things you can’t manage. Some days may not have all the engagement mentioned and kids may say they are bored. To this I always say…it’s okay. Let them get bored. Boredom is actually good! It encourages them to think for themselves and sharpens their minds in more ways than giving them a well thought out activity.
Zunaira is the author of a blog called From Dresses To Diapers. The part-time blogger and full-time mommy can be reached at her Instagram account.
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