The COVID-19 pandemic is putting stress on every aspect of life, and not even children can escape that. Parents want to help, yet sorting what’s an effective stress reliever from what’s not can be yet another task on a seemingly endless list. Here’s how to protect both the mental and physical health of your family during the pandemic.
Protecting Physical Health
First and foremost, follow all state and federal guidelines and requests. Wearing masks, limiting your trips where you interact with others, washing hands thoroughly, using hand sanitizer where soap and water aren’t available, and respecting social distancing guidelines of staying six feet away or more are the best way for all of us to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
That said, you’re not expected to stay indoors all day every day, simply at least six feet away from others. Develop outdoor activities your family can do together, or if you have access to a backyard or a local park not too far from the house, make sure kids have unstructured time outside to get some fresh air and sunlight. When doing errands, consider walking or taking a bike, if you can do so while wearing a mask.
Work on exercise plans that your family can stick to. Older kids can make use of exercise machines, for example, or the family can do an exercise video together every day. Kids can skip rope, practice on a basketball hoop in the driveway, and use solo sports to stay energetic. Younger kids may need gentler exercise to keep from being injured.
Create a healthy meal plan. While takeout a night or two a week can be fun, in the long term, making food when possible will both allow for variety and ensure everyone sticks to a supportive diet.
Protecting Digital Health
Put limits both on screen time and what screen time should be used for, and that should apply to the entire family. It’s not a good idea for an adult or a child to spend time endlessly reloading statistics websites or news sites looking for the next bit of bad news. Use parental controls to put time limits on when devices can be used and when certain sites can be accessed.
Stick to your schedules, including when screens can be used. Even if you don’t have a commute, you should get up at the same time and your kids should do the same. Sticking to those schedules gives everyone a sense of continuity. Just as importantly, make the schedules looser and more flexible on the weekends, so your family can unwind.
That said, honesty and transparency are important. Work with your family to strike a balance between staying informed about the wider world and disengaging from it when it gets to be too much. “Only good news” isn’t a good policy, however, it may feel so at the time.
Consider telehealth support if you or someone in your family is struggling with mental health during the pandemic. Mental health services have increasingly become available online and are available for both adults and kids.
Parental controls can help you manage the family issues around the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, try it for free.