5 Ways to make the Covid19 lockdown positive for kids

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was true for Dickens, and it’s also true for many of us who are now in the midst of stay-at-home orders. Keeping the covid19 lockdown into a positive experience for kids is one way to make it a positive for ourselves too.

When all of this clears up, and we “get back to normal” and in the years to come, how will your children remember it? Will they (and you) think back on this season as the best of times or the worst?

I am personally committed to making this time one that they remember as a positive one. That we came together as a family and built up relationships with each other and extended relatives and friends while we also learned to be better versions of ourselves too.

But how do we do that? Here are 5 things we’re doing that are helping make this the “best of times” when everything else is so different than normal.

1. Appreciate this time of LESS.

Many of the daily battles we have with our kids over what they wear, doing their hair, what they eat, how much screen time they get and getting them to finish their homework before we run them to their various activities is mostly gone.

There is so much more TIME to do things, because we have less of a schedule. Less (or none really) driving them to activities, less (or none really) homework. There is so much LESS competing for our attention that we’re able to focus on the things that really matter.

There will likely never be another time in your children’s lives that you have the opportunity to do so much less and spend so much time with them. Embrace it. Roll with it. Enjoy it for the precious gift it is. Then get your kids on board with this mindset. Show them; tell them how great it is, and they’ll believe you!

2. Keep a schedule

Kids are used to having a schedule. It’s been proven by lots of studies and pediatricians are happy to tell you, kids thrive on schedule. But, their schedule has been torn away and it can be very disorienting for them.

That’s why keeping some routine is critical for everyone’s mental health right now. It doesn’t have to be a strict schedule, down to the minute or strictly enforced–actually, it shouldn’t be–but create at least and outline for each day so they know when they’re expected to do things.

For example:
8-9: breakfast and get dressed/brush teeth
9-11: school work
11-12: recess/phys ed (have them play active games, go outside, etc)
12-1: lunch (if possible, have them help make it)
1-3: screen time
3-4: play games, play with toys, creative play
4-5:30: crafts, learn a new skill practice music or lessons they’re missing
5:30-Bedtime: dinner, family time, stories etc.

Obviously, you’ll need to find a schedule that works for your family, but you can use this as a jumping off point if needed.
By doing this in our house, it’s reduced the wandering around aimlessly zombie looks, whining, choruses of “I’m bored” and preserved my sanity.

By keeping a basic schedule, you’ll create order out of chaos, which is calming and less emotional. By reminding your kids of all the things they CAN do now because they have more time, they’ll also think of it as a positive.

3. Let them feel their emotions

This is a REALLY emotional time for kids. Like I said before, their whole routine has been upended, they don’t get to see their friends, go to their activities, and have to stay inside most of the time. If you’re struggling–chances are it’s worse for your kids.

But, kids don’t express their emotions the same way adults do. Depending on their age they act out, throw tantrums, talk back, give attitude, glare at everyone all day for everything (one of mine might have done that), or any number of undesirable behaviors. Many kids may be extra clingy and need extra hugs, or just need to touch you a lot.

The way YOU react determines a large part of the outcome. Don’t let them bring you down. I KNOW patience is hard; you’re stressed too! But just take a deep breath if you need to. Give them space, give them a hug, give them grace. Be as gentle and understanding as you can because having a temper tantrum of your own isn’t the way to go. When the fire of hot emotions is flamed, everyone will get burned.

If you need a time out yourself, take it if possible. Do deep breaths if you can’t leave the area.

4. Create fun family memories

This is your chance to spend more time with your kids. If you’re also working from home, it may be in the evenings, but without a commute, there’s extra time you didn’t have before! If you do just 1 thing a day, that’s enough!

There is nothing more important that you can give kids than your time. They crave it, especially right now. Set aside time every day–or a minimum of once a week–to just be together and have fun.
Play a game the kids choose
Invent a new one
Bake something
Learn a new skill together
Have a dance party
Create a homemade instrument band
Learn about your ancestors
Create a scavenger hunt around your house and yard
The possibilities are endless. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something to create a memory every day.

5. Connect with others

While everyone is basically at home, with not a whole lot to do, it’s the perfect opportunity to connect with people that you probably don’t very often. We’ve been using Facebook’s Messenger Kids app that has allowed our kids to chat with only people that we approve, like their aunts and uncles, cousins and friends from school. Other ways to communicate include FaceTime, Zoom, or even good, old fashioned phone calls.

It’s been amazing to see them catching up with friends they miss, talking to cousins and family they rarely get to see and strengthening bonds that probably wouldn’t be otherwise.

Their moods have been better, they’re learning to type on a screen (actually a skill that I was hoping to avoid for a few more years, but desperate times….) and they’re not so isolated, so when this is over, they’ll have built and retained relationships that will make the transition back easier.

What we do today will shape the way we and our kids remember the spring of 2020 in the future. And by doing these five things, you’ll foster an environment where your kids will look back and remember this as one of the best times in their lives.

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