Here are tips from Child Mind Institute’s clinicians to help calm fears, manage stress and keep the peace.
Keep routines in place: The experts all agree that setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you’re all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress.
Be creative about new activities–and exercise: Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise (without contact with other kids or things touched by other kids, like playground equipment). Take a daily family walk or bike ride or do yoga — great ways to let kids burn off energy and make sure everyone is staying active.
Manage your own anxiety: It’s completely understandable to be anxious right now (how could we not be?) but how we manage that anxiety has a big impact on our kids. Keeping your worries in check will help your whole family navigate this uncertain situation as easily as possible.
Limit consumption of news: Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts.
Stay in touch virtually: Keep your support network strong, even when you’re only able to call or text friends and family. Let kids use social media (within reason) and Skype or FaceTime to stay connected to peers even if they aren’t usually allowed to do so.
Make plans: Making plans helps you visualize the near future. Even better, assign kids tasks that will help them feel that they are part of the plan and making a valuable contribution to the family.
Keep it positive: For example, “It’s so cool to have everyone home together. We’re going to have good time! Remember, though, we’ll still be doing work and sticking to a regular schedule.”
Keep kids in the loop–but keep it simple: Unless kids ask specifically, there’s no reason to volunteer information that might worry them.
Ask for–and accept–help: If you have a partner at home, agree that you’ll trade off when it comes to childcare. Especially if one or both of you are working from home and have younger children. That way everyone gets a break and some breathing room. Everyone who can pitch in, should. Give kids age appropriate jobs. Working as a team will help your whole family stay busy and make sure no one person is overwhelmed.