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Tips for “New Family Life" with COVID-19

When in “lockdown” we are experiencing a situation that the vast majority of people are not normally in. Parents are trying to work from home. Children's school work needs to be completed. Children need to be kept busy so as not to drive everyone else crazy. Food needs to be prepared. The house needs to be cleaned. Life must go on!

On top of that there are financial consideration. Fear and uncertainty of the situation. Fear of the loss of work.

Fear when going out to buy essential items, and worrying if you are bringing Covid-19 back home to your family.

The news channels seem to only focus on Covid-19 and the rest of the world’s news no longer matters.

Sport channels which are regularly of great pleasure are quiet, as sport events have been cancelled.

Life as we know it, in many countries around the world has changed drastically over the last few weeks.

As parents, I think we should reflect on the situation as objectively as possible, and try to engage your children in tasks they may not normally do.

For example:

A routine, try to create a routine. You as the parent may be trying to work. Create a routine that everyone knows what it is.

  1. If you are religious, what about beginning the day with a family prayer time and have a quick catch up of how the day before when.

  2. Have meals together, sit down and chat during the meal.

  3. What about a family exercise session, do fun activities.

Cleaning the house, get everyone involved.

Even little children can assist with tidying up, doing some dusting or sweeping. Perhaps create a roster of who is going to do what. Mom and Dad should not be the only people tidying up.

Work time, create a work area. If there are 2 parents at home, perhaps you take turns working near to where the children are doing their schoolwork, so your partner can have some work time on her / his own, and one supports the children.

Do some physical activities, both individually and as a family. Since we are confined to homes, and many don’t have gardens, we need to move and keep building muscle mass. Exercise is important. Try dancing, or do-this-do-that games. Keep moving.

What we eat, because we are at home and not doing much, we get bored and therefore may be eating more than we normally do. Buy healthier snacks and meals, rather than items which are heavily processed, or have much artificial colourants and preservatives in them. Think carefully about what you are eating, and why you have bought those items.

Cooking and baking, perhaps get the children involved in preparing the meals, and if they are old enough to read, let them create some of the meals. One is to give them purpose for the day. If they are following a recipe, it assists in building reading and maths measurement skills.

If they are creating their own meal, you are building creative thinking skills. You could limit the amount of ingredients allowed to make the meal, thereby introducing more problem solving skills.

Working with your hands, children could be building items with the waste packaging items, such as the polystyrene trays could be turned into vehicles, and lids could become the wheels.

Encourage the children to create their own board games, and play with family members, or if you have board games play those in the evening before bed once you have finished work.

Limit the amount of TV or screen time, get the children to do other things.

Talk to each other, don;t just walk past.

What about getting the children to keep a journal or diary, and record what has been happening in the home.

Tell jokes, share jokes, laugh. Find things to laugh about. Try to keep the atmosphere in the home light-hearted.

Don’t get too stressed about the school work. If you think the school’s timelines for the work your child has been given are unreasonable, tell them. Give the teacher and the school leadership about how it is going.

As parents, take time out each day for yourself. Even if it is only when you are in the bathroom.

Give your children responsibility for a task.

Try to positively encourage your children, who are also having to adjust and cope in this unusual environment, and reinforce positive behavior.

Make contact with family and friends. Set up regular chat, if possible video chats with family members via video conferencing of some sorts. Even set up “cousin-time” for younger children to chat to their cousins. Do the same with your friends, have an adult evening chat or a “family braai” via video conferencing. Or a girls / boys night out with friends. Use the technology to engage in one-to-one, face-to-face conversations, and not just via social media.

Work-life-balance should be considered now more than ever!

Even in all the craziness, try to stay positive.

We will get through this. We will have learnt a lot. The learnings will benefit us all going forward.

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