March 28, 2020

This is an unprecedented time in our history. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the health of our loved ones, the businesses we rely upon, the health of the global economy, and the way we live our daily lives. As we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, we want you to know that we are here for you when all return to life as we know it.

We will be spending a lot of time at home in the next few weeks. Here’s our bumper guide of how to make the most of lockdown.

Now for the good news. They’ve all got tips on how to get through it.

Begin on the same page

I’d suggest at the very start the family sit down and devise a family plan. Have a discussion: what do you think will be the biggest challenges? What are the strengths that we each have as an individual family member that can help out? Discussing concerns and expectations about the quarantine, and what role each person can play to make it better, can be helpful.

Be truthful

It is important for parents to listen to and empathize with their children’s fears, speak truthfully about the situation in an age-appropriate manner and put it into context, the experts say.

Have conversations for facts and feelings. To allaying fears will also be allowing children a sense of control, such as over their personal hygiene.

For adults too, keeping a sense of perspective and sourcing information and advice from credible sources will help stave off anxiety.

Set up structure

Maintaining a routine will be important but it need not be strict. Routines are always helpful for people to see an endpoint. Don’t stay on screens all the time. It could be tempting for people to just sit in front of the telly for four weeks. The novelty of that will wear off quite quickly. We know that when people withdraw, or stop doing their normal activities, it can have a pretty profound effect on their mood.

Keep moving

Keeping physically active is critical to boosting mood. Frustration and boredom can come when kids are not getting the opportunities to be physically active. Creative exercise ideas, like setting up an obstacle course in the backyard (or even indoors), could occupy both parents and kids. Break up your day with some micro-exercises, such as jumping jacks, running up stairs or playing basketball and (indoors) soccer or cricket.

Get things done

Feeling as though something has been accomplished during an isolation period will be important for both children and their parents. It could include working from home, school assignments or setting sights on long-avoided chores, repairs or tasks. Families should consider things they can do together – like planning for a movie night, taking on a large project such as building something together, or even rearranging the furniture.

Give each other space

Try to think of things you can do by yourself and as a family. It can be hard for families who are used to all going off to their own activities being forced into this intense time. That’s why when you’re on family holiday you’ll sometimes see kids squabbling – they’re not used to being in the same space. Create spaces in the house, if possible, like little zones – ‘This is our game zone. This bean bag with a headset is our chill-out corner.’

While respecting time alone is important, it could also be a time for creating or reconnecting with family rituals. This might be as simple as a proper sit-down family meal, perhaps with a new recipe the kids have been involved in preparing.

Stay in touch

Another critical component of good mental state is feeling connected to others. This time, technology is our friend. Connecting and making time for friends on social media or over the phone will be critical for adults. Also important  is reciprocal social support – reaching out to others to make sure they are OK.

Learn from the experience

Get a new perspective. Gain a lot more respect for what doctors and nurses do.  Appreciate more what the police do.  Understand teachers and their patience, because it’s hard to teach kids. Let this time help you. Think, become a better parent. Become a better human being.  “Be kind”.