Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been plunged into unsettling and uncertain times, with every day bringing a new measure from the government, to protect ourselves and those we love against coronavirus. It’s really important we stick to the government’s advice, to help slow the spread of the virus, protect ourselves and the vulnerable, and reduce strain on the NHS. However, we understand that these measures are not without their challenges – particularly for families with school aged children.
With many parents working from home and children off school, it’s tempting to plonk them in front of the TV with a packet of crisps so that you can get on with some work – or just moments peace! But with this situation facing us for the foreseeable future, that could be a slippery slope! It’s important to establish a routine to keep up our healthy habits (or create new ones!) in order to look after our, and our children’s, minds and bodies.
Firstly it’s really important for children understand what’s going on. Taking the time to explain the situation to them seriously and safely will help them to a) understand why they can’t go outside, or see their friends/grandparents, b) encourage them to practice infection prevention guidelines (ie: washing their hands!) and c) set straight any playground myths and ease any anxieties.
These awesome online resources from The Curiosity Box will help you to explain the coronavirus situation to your family in a simple and child-friendly way. There are various explainer videos and interactive games to answer any questions your child may have.
If your child is anxious or frightened about the pandemic and the measures we’re all taking, it’s really important to frame the situation in a positive light. Here are a few silver linings you could mention:
As experts in behaviour change, we know that to create a new habit we need to make it interesting and fun. We have heard from the government that washing your hands thoroughly and regularly is vital to help keep the coronavirus at bay, so here are some ways to create consistent handwashing habits in your household:
Encourage your children stay as socially connected as possible by giving them the chance to interact with friends and family online. There are many different platforms children can use to stay in touch such as FaceTime, Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom, Google Hangouts – so connect with other mums and dads to find out which platform will work best, and set up an online playdate. The children could even play games such a charades, two truth one lie, 21 questions etc.
Writing letters or postcards is a fantastic way for children to communicate, as it give them a chance to practice their writing skills whilst staying in touch with others. Why not get them to write a letter to a friend or grandparent asking them to be their pen pal.
Children aged 5 – 18 should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day to stay healthy – and just because we’re in a lock down doesn’t mean we can’t keep moving!
Boris has been clear that we are allowed outside for exercise once per day, so long as we not displaying any symptoms, and we stay a minimum of 2 metres distance away from other people. So go out for a walk, run, cycle, or play some ball games in the local park (if it’s not busy!).
There’s also plenty of active fun you can have indoors – no matter how small the space! Joe Wicks is holding live PE classes on YouTube every morning at 9am, over 800,000 children have been joining in from home! We’ll be posting tons of ideas and videos for you in the coming weeks too – stay tuned!
During all our BeeZee Bodies sessions we always talk about how important it is to have a routine, and how this can help us to stay on track. This is just as important for both children and adults during this challenging time of isolation.
Make a timetable and try to stick to it, this will help with planning meal times, snacking, activity time, school work and bedtime. We currently have our team working on some daily timetables for you to help!
Snacking can be a real issue when boredom sets in, so plan snack times into your schedule and try to stick to it.
Another useful tip is “if it’s not in the cupboards, it can’t be eaten”. Cut down on the amount of snacks and treats you buy so that you won’t be tempted to eat them knowing they are in the cupboard.
We advise snacks to be small (100 calories or under) and healthy, and limited to 2 snacks per day. Here are some healthy snacks we recommend:
Being stuck inside for long periods of time can heighten tensions and lead to arguments between siblings, parents and other family members. If you have young children, a sticker chart may help you to use positive reinforcement for good behaviour – for example sharing toys or helping you tidy up.
A good tip for all families is to set some lockdown house rules. Sit everyone down and make sure that everyone agrees to them and signs at the bottom, then pin them up on the wall for everyone to see.
Many children over this time period will squabble over items (such as the X-Box!) so it might be worth making a rota to ensure everybody gets a fair turn.
But it’s not just for the kids – don’t forget to carve out some “me time” for yourself too. Trying to take on the role of chef, teacher, parent and entertainer 24/7 is going to take its toll – and you have to look after yourself to be able to look after your family.
Ensure you build this into your family’s daily routine and make sure the rest of the family are aware and respectful of your protected time.
Leading by example is usually the best way to get your children on board with healthy habits. Let the children see you do some home workouts of your own so they’re inspired to join in or get moving in their own way.
The same goes for snacking and meals; if your children see you snacking on unhealthy things or eating between meal times they are more likely to ask for some too!
For more information about lockdown and the rules and any Coronavirus question see the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Please remember to follow the rules to slow the spread and help our NHS.