Overnight many of us have found ourselves thrown into a new world of lockdown, social distancing, and self-isolation. These changes can be disconcerting, frustrating and due to the nature of the lockdown, scary.
For children, it’s especially important to help them recognize the seriousness of the situation without frightening them, enabling them to understand why they can’t go to school or to the playground to see their friends.
Let’s face it, no matter how much we love our families, being thrust all together under one roof with little time for solitude requires, patience, understanding and the negotiating skills of an international peacekeeper.
So once we have given our kids a sense of why we’re in this current situation, how do we help them adapt to this new ‘normal’ and keep a harmonious household?
Keep ‘home’ school days to regular waking times and have a timetable that gives you all an idea of what is happening when. For example,
We have a schedule loosely based around school time, but this is open to change on a daily basis depending on when my husband and I have our own ‘online meetings.’
While this schedule will be helpful most days, there will be times when it needs to be thrown out of the window and chocolate may need to be eaten for breakfast. Remember that we are all in unchartered territory and sometimes whatever we have to do to get through a day without everyone melting down is okay.
Keeping in touch with friends is important for all of us, and children love being able to see and speak to their friends. My children’s classes have an online ‘play date’ arranged for 3:45 pm on school days. The number of children attending varies day to day but knowing they have a set time to see some of their friends is very reassuring.
Individual, one-to-one, play dates are also important to support and nurture close friendships. Pokemon cards and Star Wars might not sound like the most scintillating conversation to adults but to an 8-year-old, it may be the best chat they’ve had all day!
If you are not currently able to get outside there are many ways to be active inside.
Kids love to join in and copy you, I’m always amazed at how much my kids love joining in with my workout.
There are classes available on Pilates Anytime created specifically for kids.
Little Kids especially enjoy creating and telling a story around the exercises - our Mats have been desert islands, space ships, pirate ships, and jungles. Think how a simple ‘Cat’ exercise can become a roaring lion poised to chase you across the Savannah, or ‘Swimming’ can be a playful dolphin dashing through the waves with you, a Side Stretch is an elephants trunk reaching into a tree for some tasty branch, etc. Imagination is endless and part of the fun is creating your story while moving and having fun together.
Put your favorite music on and dance, though be prepared for your children to judge your moves!
Kids LOVE being timed, whether it’s 'How long does it take to get dressed?' 'Who can make their bed quickest?' 'How quickly can we tidy up the toys?'Use this to your advantage and get them helping and moving!
This also encourages teamwork not just competition – team working and helping each other towards a common challenge makes for a more cohesive and less competitive household.
A shared experience = a shared success.
Try a timed challenges
Change the focus and see how many sets of ten of each they can do in two minutes.
Great for hand/eye coordination All you need is a rolled-up sock or a scrunched-up paper ball/small ball/soft toy whatever you can find that you can throw. Two children’s hardback storybook can be the ‘rackets’ (swim floats can work just as well.)
You need a pair of socks. Begin with everyone having a pair of socks tucked into their waistband hanging down like tails. The aim of the game is to collect all the tails! The winner is the first one to grab the most tails.
You need a laundry basket/box, a rolled-up sock/softball/scrunched-up paper. Place your laundry basket a set distance away from you. Make a line by laying pencils or a ruler on the floor for everyone to stand behind. Take turns to throw your ‘ball’ into the basket.
You can increase the challenge by increasing the distance to the net or using a smaller net.
And when you’ve exercised, focus on…
Enjoy doing something together, whether it’s playing a game, cooking, going for a walk (if restrictions allow outdoor exercises), cuddling up on the sofa, reading a book out loud, or watching a movie.
When we’re all cooped up together it can be easy to forget that time relaxing together is different from just being around each other.
Try to have time every day where you are all apart and quiet from each other. Either reading, working or playing quietly. This does not need to be in separate rooms, simply sitting quietly together reading at opposite ends of a sofa will give you some space and time for yourself.
The most important thing in these new and uncertain times is that we find a way to peacefully coexist in our living spaces.
Have fun, enjoy being together in play and quiet time too.