As we all adapt to a life at home, children have had to also make some huge sacrifices. For some they have not been able to end their time at school with their friends they have just spent the last 7, 12 or even the last 14 years with. They are having to be home schooled, some by their parents who, let’s be honest, didn’t sign up for! And they will be missing grandparents and other members of their family they don’t live with.
Their daily routine has been turned completely upside down. Bedtimes are probably later, staying in pyjamas most, if not all day, and we are probably hearing those dreaded phrases like “I’m bored!” or “What can I eat now?”
Many children’s anxieties have risen over the last few weeks as they are coming to terms with what is happening and the affects it is having on their day to day lives, as well as witnessing their parents’ own stress and anxiety increase. Our children, of course, want answers, many of which we do not know ourselves, but what we can do is help them feel safe and secure and to get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few tips to help:
Maintain a similar morning and night routine
Set your alarm in a morning and have things planned for the day. Bedtimes are no different so try not to get into the habit of saying “You can stay up a bit longer, you haven’t got school tomorrow” – because there will come a time again when they will be going back.
We are still fortunate that we are able to go out on a daily walk, cycle or run. Make the most of this and get some fresh air, It is important to get natural day light as it will help your child’s sleep pattern and burn off some excess energy.
It’s obviously important to do a little bit of school work, but break the say up with other activities – an afternoon walk, jigsaws, board games, for example. We know this isn’t possible for everyone, some of us are still trying to do a full-time job whilst at home, but we all need a break from our desk too.
At bedtime, read them a story and share and appreciate that time together.
When you’re about to go on a Zoom call or you’ve got a report that needs to be written, allowing the children to sit on their tablets, phones, or games consoles, this is by far the easy option. If possible, try and limit this time. Some children will be doing online schooling so will already be spending a considerable amount of time in front of a screen – admittedly not as exciting as perhaps Fortnite but still necessary.
Offer comfort and support
As we have mentioned, they will have their own anxieties around this unprecedented situation. It may be necessary to reduce anxieties and keep the news to a minimum. If you need to see what’s happening, perhaps catch up later. They may already have little understanding of the current situation, and the news and social media may fuel their anxieties as well as your own.