Updated: Mar 24
While the government and doctors are telling us to look out for fevers, and trouble breathing many have forgotten to mention one side effect of the spread of the COVID-19 virus; anxiety. The uncertainty of childcare, your next paycheck, groceries and what you and your children will do all day if you are quarantined is overwhelming, to say the least. We at PA Parent and Family Alliance know that this is probably having an impact on you and your family's mental health and we want to let you in on some tips to help alleviate anxiety, as well as show you resources that can benefit you, your family, and your children during these trying times.
1. How to preserve your mental health:
There is no denying that events happening across the entire world are scary, to say the least. While it is important that you and your loved ones stay informed on what is going on it is also essential that you check in with yourself and how all of this information is making you feel. It seems like every person on social media has "the most reliable source," and "the most pertinent breaking news." With news coming at you from all angles right now try and limit how much time you spend taking that information in. It can be very tempting to continue to scroll through social media searching for new and more hopeful information. For the sake of you and your mental health; turn it off.
Grab a board game, throw on a movie, sit down to a family dinner. Do something that distracts you from the constant information and if you happen to find yourself with more family time at home use that "no screen" time into creating good memories with your children. One of the biggest times a day that we scroll on our phones is right before bed. At times like this practice mindfulness and try and continue to limit your phone usage. Before bed read a book or settle in with a good TV show rather than mindlessly scrolling. This is a good tip for practicing sound sleep in general but during this time it can help you unwind from all of the stress.
Other than limiting your screen time there are a number of ways to practice self-care right now. If you are somebody who finds solace in exercise go to an open space in your house and try an "at home" workout. By continuing as much normalcy os possible and carving out time for your health can help keep your anxiety levels down. Click here for a link to some free online youtubers that post at-home workouts. Meditation is another good way for you and your children to practice self-care and mindfulness right now. Limiting caffeine always helps to combat anxiety as well as maintaining a normal meal and sleep schedule. During this time your kids will look to you to see whether or not you are scared. It is always good to be open and honest with your children but also to help them cope with their own anxiety and show them that everything is going to be okay.
2. What to do with your children if you are quarantined
Everybody loves family time, but two weeks of nobody leaving your house is enough to make any parent lose their mind. Children, especially children with social, emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges, thrive on structure. School gives them a wake-up time and a set schedule, by trying to maintain a similar schedule during their time off school you can help them cope with all of the uncertainty that is happening around them. Below is a schedule that a fellow mom created and shared on Facebook to keep her children on track during this extra time at home. She incorporates the kind of activities your children would be doing if they were at school (i.e. exercise, creative time, learning time). By using this as a template or creating your own that fits your family, it could drastically help your children thrive during this time, while also giving you the peace of mind knowing that you don't have to figure out what to do with them the entire time.
This mom has multiple chunks of the day labeled as "Academic Time," if you are not someone in the education field you might be struggling to know what kind of lessons and activities will help your child and will be on par with what they are learning in school right now. Thankfully a number of companies and online resources have recognized the fact that parents may find themselves home with school-aged children right now and have made their services free and accessible. It is important that children use their brains in productive ways during these times at home.
Children don't just focus on academics when they are at school. They get to dance, sing, paint, draw, and run around. The extracurricular parts of school are arguably just as important for your child's development as the educational parts. For music and dancing, and a little humor for our current situation, maybe check out Actress Rita Wilson's crowdsourced quarantine playlist. Get your kids up and moving to shake and jive some of that energy out. Take your children on an at-home world tour by trying out some of these free online museum tours of some of the world's most famous museums.
Companies across the world are making an effort to work with the government to do what's right to stop the spread of the virus. From closing their doors to opening up services for free like the educational resources they are doing their part to help the country get through this. Click here to read about how Comcast has made wifi free and more accessible during all of this extra at-home time.
3. Show your kids how to be "helpers"
We hear that the virus does not generally have serious impacts on young and healthy people. We hope that you and your family fall into this category and that that fact helps to alleviate your anxiety. While this may be good news for you it is not for people who have compromised immune symptoms or are older Teach your children that by practicing good hygiene and social distancing they can be "helpers." Show them this video or even conduct this little science experiment to show your children how important soap can be.
4. Take care of you!
First thing's first; breathe. If you feel like you're alone, know that social distancing only refers to in-person contact. Pick up the phone and call your parents, your neighbors, your best friend or anyone who you will be able to share your anxieties with. Reach out to our Community Family Support Partners (CFSP's) for answers to your questions or connect with us via our social media pages for an outlet of positivity, strength, and people who understand the thoughts swirling around in your head and are here to listen. Share what you're doing to keep your family healthy and happy with us on social media.
The one thing we know is in times of dire emergencies human beings rise to the challenge to support one another. Check out how our Italian friends are keeping up their spirits. Remember, we're going to get through this and we'll be with you every step of the way!