6 Strategies for Parents to Keep Calm and Carry On During COVID-19

During stressful times, children need parents to be at their best. That can be especially challenging right now, amid school closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Connecticut Children’s pediatrician Rebecca Moles, MD, joins the blog with strategies to help.

Take great breaks.

The best breaks involve movement! Get up, move around, go outside, have a snack, toss a ball, make a paper airplane, fold the laundry, have a pillow fight. Remember: Your child is used to structured activity at school with social interaction. This is not the time to tell your child “go play outside” without providing some suggested activity. Plant seeds (indoors or out) and mark the progress daily in a journal. Take the break with your child; you will find that your focused work time is more productive, too. Make sure “break” isn’t your child trading one screen for another. (Read screen time guidelines for teens, big kids, preschoolers, babies and toddlers.)

Maintain connections with loved ones.

While social distancing requires physical separation from others, stay close by FaceTime, phone calls, texting photos, or making cards and projects and putting them in the mail.

Teach your child to value community.

Follow the guidelines in your area for social distancing. Volunteer to drop off food or supplies to an elderly neighbor or family with very young children. Share great ideas for keeping children busy and entertained with other parents. If your child has questions about COVID-19, get help answering.

> Want help getting your family through COVID-19? Check out our School Closure Kit

Create celebrations or events to look forward to.

All of us are disappointed by the cancellation of fun upcoming events, from school band concerts to birthday parties to major vacations. Create excitement and anticipation by planning fun events at home. The planning of and preparation for an event is often more fun than the actual event. These events need not be elaborate or cost a lot of money. Have a costume party: get out old Halloween costumes or other dress-up supplies and have a fashion show (invite another family over FaceTime or similar platform). Declare next Friday “polite night” and get out your best entertaining supplies, wear your fanciest clothes and use excellent manners. The next week, have Pirate Night or ‘80s Night and dress accordingly. When you have a good idea, share with other friends and family so they can try it at their own home.

Give yourself a time out.

If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, hungry, or are reaching your limit in some way, remove yourself from the situation. Assure that your child is safe, then take a few moments to yourself to calm down. Take a shower. Walk outside. Vacuum. Lie on your bed in the dark. Call a friend. Watch a silly video. Recharge, forgive yourself, wash your hands and start again.

View this as a gift and allow yourself to slow down.

The days are long, and the years are short. While several districts are closed “indefinitely,” remember that this pandemic will pass. Your child’s childhood will be over more quickly than you realize.

Learn more about coronavirus >>

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