I didn’t want to write this post. I feel like many people are taking advantage of the COVID-19/coronavirus to hawk things or make money (re-selling hand sanitizer anyone?), spread misinformation or cause unnecessary panic.
However, several close friends and family members have mentioned that their children are feeling anxious about the pandemic and they don’t know what to say or how to help their kids feel better and more calm – not to mention: what to do for three weeks while their children are off school (or out of daycare as the case may be). Here in Ontario, the government has mandated an extra two-week school closure in addition to the traditional March Break (beginning this weekend/Monday).
While, I’m not a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist, I have written a lot about mental health, learning disabilities, anxiety and depression – both for this blog and for organizations, magazines and web sites. We can’t completely shield our children from panic or tragedy, but we can try and make sense of it for them.
For starters, depending on the age of your children, you might want to explain the science of how viruses spread and how we can ALL do our part by:
- Washing our hands frequently and with soap (a lot of kids forget the soap part or the drying off part)
- Not touching our faces (so difficult – especially with colds or allergies)
- Keeping away from others as much as possible (again, tough for kids who are mostly social animals and want to give hugs and high-fives)
- Eating healthy foods and drinks (there are lots of ways to inject fruits, veggies, fibre and probiotics into our diets)
- Getting plenty of fresh air and exercise (more on that below)
- Getting enough sleep (always important!)
I’ve pre-warned my tween/teen children that none of us is going to spend the next three weeks just staring at devices. We can read actual books, play games and cards and utilise this opportunity to clean and de-clutter our spaces — which is also a great way to improve mental health!
And, since we’re doing the “silver lining” thing: For me, this is just another excuse to get outside for a hike or a walk or a bike ride. (Anyone who reads this blog or knows me personally, knows that I am a hiking/fresh air fanatic!). As social distancing and no non-essential travel are being advised, local hiking, trekking and biking is the perfect activity.
Here are a few blog posts that can help motivate you and your kids to get some exercise and fresh air during the COVID-19 school closure and throughout the spring and summer:
What are you doing to keep yourself and your family sane during this unprecedented time in history? Are you able to stay calm and enjoy a hiatus of sorts or is the closing of schools and limited travel putting additional stress on your family? Feel free to write to me or comment below.
Yours in parenting peace,