4 Tips for Families During COVID-19

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused all of us to change routines in order to keep ourselves and loved ones safe and healthy. For parents, the challenge may be greater—juggling working from home with providing children’s educational and basic needs can cause stressful situations. The foundation of occupational therapy, promotes the engagement in daily activities to promote mental and physical well-being, which can help families adapt and thrive.

As we all adjust to a new ‘normal,’ due to the disruptions in our routine and daily life, we can feel a little overwhelmed, stressed, and out of sorts. Here are some of the strategies that may help you during this time.
Participate in meaningful activities. While screen time can be a valuable tool for educational purposes, remaining socially connected, and keeping in touch with family and friends, it is important to help children to build healthy habits and routines. Take some time to do things you enjoy as a family that do not involve screens. For younger children, take some time to play on the floor with them using toys they are interested in. For older children, try a family board game night or start a puzzle together.

Rely on familiar routines. Children thrive on consistency and clear expectations. While your day-to-day life might currently look different as a family, consider identifying or creating small, predictable routines throughout your day. For most families, it is not feasible to try to provide your children structure throughout their entire day, as many parents continue to work from home and frequently have other roles they are balancing. Rather, try to build a familiar, comforting routine around one daily activity, such as getting ready in the morning, mealtime, or the transition to bedtime. Consider asking your child to identify what is meaningful to them during these routines, such as reading a story, helping to prepare a meal, or cuddling on the couch before breakfast.

Take time for rest and sleep. Sleep is important for both mental and physical health. While it may be tempting to stay up late and let everyone sleep in, try to keep your family members’ bedtime and wake-up times similar from day to day. If you or your children are having trouble falling asleep, consider introducing a relaxing bedtime routine. It can be as simple as “bath, brush teeth, book, bed.” And remember, viewing screens before bedtime (even for “relaxing” shows) can make it harder to fall asleep.

Be gracious with yourself. It may be easy to feel guilty as a parent for the sudden increase in screen time or lack of structure throughout your day. It is important to acknowledge that this is a challenging time for everyone, and that each family is doing their best. Consider setting one achievable goal for the day such as going for a walk as a family, or providing words of encouragement to each child. Take time to think about what went well during your day and acknowledge moments of joy as you experience them.”

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