1. Have a conversation
While the kids might be excited to be off school, on the flip side, being in home isolation can be frightening, particularly for young children. The first thing you can do is have a conversation. According to NSW Health, “it’s important to talk to your children using age-appropriate language.” The idea is to inform them with the information they need to know, not scare them.
And don’t reserve the ‘family talk’ for the littlies. People of all ages are feeling the brunt of these uncertain times – and this can cause anxiety, panic and fear. Additionally, if family members are at risk of mental illness or vulnerabilities such as depression or anxiety, be extra sensitive and alert to how they are coping.
You can find accurate, up to date information at Department of Health - COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
2. Create a routine
Life as we know it has been turned on its head. No bustling school drops, catching trains to work, packing lunches or after school activities. Studies show kids benefit from structure and routine, so create a new routine and keep as many of the ‘old routine’ elements as you can. For example, you can be in home-isolation as still get up, get dressed, have breakfast, do school work (perhaps reading, or online Mathletics, Reading Eggs or Skoolbo).
Ensure regular breaks and body movement – kids should get up and move every 30 minutes to give eyes a break from the screen and reduce the risk of pro-longed seated sprains, strains and injuries. If you have a back yard, stop for lunch, get outside and embrace nature. Studies show spending time in nature has health and mental wellbeing benefits, and improves focus and concentration when work resumes.
You can also ask your child’s school to supply lesson information and homework by email.
If you have little ones, it will be trickier. Depending on their level of independence, you can try to set them up for self-guided play with puzzles, outdoor play and exploration, Play Doh, building and construction or other craft projects etc.
3. Reassure yourself
Yes, you need to be strong and resilient for the family, but it’s important you look after your health and mental wellbeing, too. QLD Health has a fantastic array of daily activities that can be done from home to help look after your physical and mental wellbeing. You can practice them with your family, too. From building projects, to mind challenging puzzles and fun games, lawn exercise, mindfulness and guided meditation and more.
Your health is just as important as other family members. Remember, isolation won’t be forever.
4. Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media
The ‘social distancing’ rules should really be called ‘physical distancing’, because that’s what they are – staying a safe 1.5 metre distance from others. In fact, staying socially connected is more important than ever. Research shows that those with a strong sense of connectedness reap both physical and mental wellbeing benefits, including a sense of place, belonging, and resilience.
5. Exercise regularly at home
Exercise is essential to healthy physical and mental wellbeing. Ever heard of ‘runners high’? That’s the release of those feel-good chemicals triggered when we exercise. And staying healthy both in body and in mind is essential during these unprecedented times.
The official Department of Health guidelines recommend a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily for young people aged 5-17. For adults, it's recommended:
- (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
- PLUS do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
If you are new to exercise, start slowly – all those 5 minutes increments count - and slowly build your way up.
Choose activities that the whole family can do, including a mix of stretches and cardio or heart pumping activities. Check your streaming services or catch-up TV for exercise classes, dancing, floor exercises or yoga guided classes. Or do some brisk walks around the backyard, take a spin on the bikes, get rollerblading, do skipping, sit-ups, star jumps…
6. Get groceries delivered
Whilst the current status is supermarkets and essential services are still open for business, and Coles and Woolworths have increased supplies to prevent empty shelves and toilet paper crises, the less contact you – and the children – have with others the better.
Order groceries online and medicines (including prescription medicines) online or by telephone, or ask your family, friends or other members of the household to pick up essentials for you.