COVID-19 Family Challenges

Developing New Routines to Help Your Family During the Pandemic

covid-19-family routines

By Robyn Dos Santos

COVID-19 has drastically changed, and in some ways, taken away our daily family routines.  This can be very stressful.  In addition, due to the restrictions of social distancing, typical support from family, friends, and community has been dramatically reduced.  Routines help to build meaning in our lives and at this current, unprecedented time, families are challenged to build new, healthy routines within the guidelines proposed for safety.  We would like to offer some tips based on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), and UNICEF.

Developing New Routines

Structure each day to include what needs to be done (work, school, home care) as well as some free time. Including all family members in planning creates a sense of ownership.  Structure creates a sense of security to our days.

Include some time for fresh air (if allowed in your area to be outside) even if simply in your back yard. Continue to follow prescribed home routines to maintain wellness (daily stretching programs, breathing exercises).

Have each family member choose an activity for “free time”. It could be a board game, movie night, simple craft project, virtual “travel” to a place of interest.  Aim for 2 times a week.

Managing Stress

It is normal to feel stressed at a time such as this.  It is important to take care of yourself by managing stress.  Allow yourself to take a break and relax.  Make a list of 2-3 healthy activities that you can do at home that you enjoy and structure them into the week.  You deserve it!

Acknowledge that you can manage the amount of information about COVID-19 that you access. Be aware how you are affected by the barrage of information available; if it makes you feel empowered to make logical choices, fine.  If you feel overwhelmed, you may choose to manage exposure.  This reaction may change day to day as well. Remember, you are in charge.

Practice relaxation. A simple, 1-minute practice may help.  Sit quietly in a chair with feet on the ground, hands on thighs. Attend to your breath and the sensations in your body for one full minute.  Notice, without judging how you feel at this very moment.

Talking to children about COVID-19

Listen to your children’s questions and feelings.  You don’t need to know all the answers.  They are simply looking to you for support.  Be open and honest.  You are in this together.

Keeping Connected

Use of social media is more important now than ever. Teens really need to relate to their friends, and many families are using video applications to stay connected through virtual “storytime with grandparents”, virtual parties to celebrate events and regular check-ins can all help to feel connected to loved ones.

Using the regular postal service to send cards, pictures, and drawings.

Be Positive

At the end of each day, offer praise to each family member (include yourself) for something done well.  It could be practicing good hand hygiene, completing schoolwork, or getting along with siblings. Positive praise goes a long way in promoting change. 

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