Updated: Apr 27
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, the life of millions of people around the world is adversely affected. With many countries opting for a complete lockdown our kids are also bearing the brunt of staying locked up in the house all the time. The current scenario has taken a toll on their physical health as well as emotional and mental well being.
With our own stress to managing the house with no regular income pouring in for some, limited availability of food and utility stock, and the uncertainty of the situation to end, we feel drained all the time.
So, it is important to take care of yourself before you tend to a cranky, irritated and angry child. Here are a few measures to ensure that you stay healthy and fit to deal with your kid’s emotional outburst.
Take Care of Yourself
Follow a routine: Everyone is at home so it is difficult to start and end the day as before. But if you are the one in the family who is doing major household chores like cooking, cleaning, laundry, then it is advisable to follow your old routine. Staying in a routine relaxes the mind and helps us prepare for unforeseen situations. Waking up early can play to your advantage. You can complete most of the tasks while other members are asleep. This extra morning time will also help you to plan the day.
If you are not an early riser then plan the next day a night before, especially the meals menu as it is time-consuming.
List Your Priorities: While you plan your day list down your priorities. It will sort out your mind’s battle to rush to finish all tasks in a day. There are things that can be done the next day. And there are others that can be delegated. Be wise enough to know that and smart enough to implement. If you are single-handedly doing all the chores then don’t forget to pat yourself for finishing even half of the things on the list for the day.
Meditate/Exercise: If little things make you anxious or you feel emotionally low, it is best to meditate. All you have to do is set a time for yourself every day for 20 minutes. Put on some soothing music, sit or lie down, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Meditation is therapeutic. Make it a habit to meditate even after the lockdown is over.
Yoga or aerobics is yet another way to relieve stress. There are a lot of YouTube channels you can follow for simple yoga poses or learn aerobics. The point is to stay healthy and fit.
Eat Well and Timely: When your stomach is full you won’t get edgy. Make sure not to skip breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day. Include healthy food in your diet like, oats, suji, poha, fruits, eggs. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
Schedule your Work From Home Time: When everyone’s at home, and also working from home, not managing your time is the sure-shot recipe for disaster. Talk to other family members and let them know what time of the day you will be unavailable. Also, make sure that every member of the house takes on some responsibility for house chores. Those ways you are assured that the work will be carried even in your absence.
Time-Out: Whenever you feel overwhelmed or disturbed, it is good to take a break. Take a time-out from housework doing only the essentials. Pamper yourself with your favourite book and coffee or binge-watch your Netflix series. Don’t shy away from telling others how you feel. We all are entitled to some ‘me’ time.
Talk to Your Friends: There is always that one friend who will be readily available for you at any time of the day or night. Count on them to pull you back to senses when nothing seems to go the way it should.
The times are trying and it is okay to feel sad, upset, or even cry at times. But if you get someone to listen to your rant or a shoulder to cry on, the pain becomes bearable. You can also be one such friend to someone who needs a little push. Surviving in a lockdown is not easy for anyone but a little compassion goes a long way.
Sleep Well: Catch up on your sleep whenever you need to. Even the best of best needs to be well-rested before taking on another new day. So, don’t compromise on your sleep.
Now that you are physically, emotionally and mentally sorted it’s time to understand the little humans in the house. Children are born with their own understanding of the world around them. As they grow old they learn to decipher feelings and emotions. But they may still not be equipped to express their feelings.
Anger, frustration, tantrums, throwing things, nail-biting, thumb-sucking are a few ways they show their fears or emotions.
Staying in the house without attending school, without meeting their friends, missing their playtime, birthday parties, outings and now vacations too is too much baggage on small shoulders. They might not have dreamt even in their wildest dreams they would have to go through times like such.
Two words of advice – Be Patient.
As a parent, it is common to shout at our children, scold them, and ground them for their mistakes. It is still in vogue to teach them good behaviour but with a slight twist in the old ways. Understand that they are as much in shock as we are. But we have our coping mechanisms up and running; they are still learning.
Understanding Your Child
Every child will react differently to situations like the one we are facing today. Some kids will take less time to settle while with others you have to start over again each day. But in neither case, it would be easier.
There are certain steps you can take to ensure that your child opens up about his feelings with you. Spoil them with love and hugs frequently, more so when they deserve it the least. Their grumpiness is a cry for help. Help them by just being there and listening without judging or advising. Let them know you understand.
What Can You Do To Help Your Child
Follow a Routine: Children love to follow a routine. It helps them know what to expect next. They don’t get overwhelmed. But any sudden change in their daily activities agitates them. And when there’s not much they can do staying at home, it is rather essential to keep them in a routine.
All schools are running virtual classes now. So from 8 am to 12.30 pm is spent studying and learning online. Rest of the day can be planned accordingly depending upon the activities you have in mind to keep them engaged.
Make a Timetable: Sit with your child and frame a timetable. Agree on a time they will spend to study and finish their homework every day. Schedule their meal and snacks break too. It will reduce your kitchen visits as well.
Mention their playtime and daily screen time. This will help you stay out of the nagging time of ‘please, please, please Mumma’, ‘one more time Mumma’, ‘five more minutes, please Mumma’. And of course, sleep time should also come in the timetable with a mention in bold letters. Friday and Saturday kids can get access to sleep late at night with a condition of showing good behaviour throughout the week.
Sharing Household Chores: It is a good idea to delegate age-appropriate household chores to children also. Do not be gender-biased when distributing the chores. Teach both, your son and daughter to sweep, mop, wash utensils, do laundry, fold clothes, and no fire cooking recipes.
Make work-time a fun-time. Kids love to help and more so when there are points or rewards involved. Give them 10 points for doing their chores in time and 5 bonus points for doing every extra chore or helping their sibling. Sit back and see their enthusiasm take over.
Online Activity Class: With the lockdown extended, Facebook is booming with a lot of free online activity classes. A lot of people have come forward to share their drawing and craft skills by organizing a special online class for children.
We all know how difficult it is for the little ones to cope up living indoors all day. Art classes help them to learn a new craft and brings a little joy to their otherwise stressed mind.
Make them their Favourite Meal: Eating healthy is essential for our kids to strengthen their immune system. But you can treat them one meal a day with their favourite food or snack. A full stomach makes less noise.
Family/Friends Video Calls: If you are in a nuclear set-up, it is natural for kids to miss their grandparents, aunt and uncles and cousins. Form a habit of family video calling once a day or once in two days. This will help you all stay connected. Children love to know about the people they are in the habit of meeting regularly.
Explain to them that though we have to stay in lockdown for another few weeks but it is not the end of the world. They can still meet their friends and other family members through video calls. This will reassure them that better days will be back soon.
Listen When They Talk: Sometimes kids come up with weird stories that are hard to believe. Lend them an ear when they come to you. Leave your phone, take a break from work, sit down with your child and pay heed. When they fear something or are going through a meltdown all they seek is your attention. Be with them – physically, emotionally and mentally.
We all feel better after talking to our friends or loved ones. It’s no different for children. They want to be reminded that this too shall pass and their life will be back to normal again.
Play Board Games With Kids: Depending upon the age of your child play games with them. There are a lot of board game options as going to the park is not a choice anymore. If your child is still young for board games invent new games with the available material at home. You can play car race, dollhouse – tea party, puppet fight, treasure hunt or bowling (with steel or plastic glasses and a ball).
The point is to distract them from falling back in the trap of an emotional burst out.
Turn Friday Nights into Movie Nights: Friday marks the start of the weekend. So with malls shut down and nowhere to go, we can still plan our Friday nights as movie nights at home. Have 2 slips of each family member’s favourite movies and put them in a bowl. Every week take turns for a lucky draw and watch that movie together. Fill your share of popcorns and drinks, chill and enjoy.
This is a good exercise to bond as a family and teach kids to respect other members choices also.
Howsoever you may opt to spend time with your child don’t overdo your role as a parent. Know when to be pushy and when to let go. You will do your child a favour by making her/him independent. The sooner the better.
From time to time talk to your children about the pandemic in a way that does not scare them. Explain to them the reasons for staying in a lockdown.
In spite of every effort you make to calm your child things might still not go as smoothly as they sound. But keep on it. Your child looks up to you to in the times of chaos. Teach them the right mechanisms.
Suggested Read: How To Survive A Lockdown Without Losing Your Mind