Family time is quality time, but it can be overwhelming when you’re cooped up with them indefinitely. Since the mandatory coronavirus lockdowns have been in effect across the world, working parents have had to become substitute teachers and personal chefs for their children on top of finishing their deliverables that pay the bills. Who knew working from home would be this exhausting? To help you adjust, here are some tips to help your children, teens, and yourself get through the quarantine.
Homeschooling children is a full-time job. Add that to your endless workload and incessant emails, and you're lucky if you get a full eight hours of sleep. Stay on top of your to-do list and your kid’s with these teacher’s helpers.
Children: Scholastic Learn at Home offers daily education projects and lessons for children from pre-K through 9th grade. If you have a backyard, go outside with them and take Seek by iNaturalist, an app that identifies nearby flora and fauna. When they’re bored with earth, they can look to the stars with NASA Space Place, which has games, crafts, and activities for aspiring astronauts.
Teens: Odds are, your child’s school board has already set up online classes for them. However, for ambitious teens who want an academic edge when the quarantine is lifted, Khan Academy offers education tools tailored to your child’s needs, as well as SAT and AP test prep.
You: Your children aren’t the only ones who have homework assignments. From webinars on privacy to CLE classes on ethics, stay updated on the in-house industry’s latest news with ACC Online Education.
Virtual field trips
Those cheap flights are tempting, but put away your passport until the quarantine has been lifted. In the meantime, flatten the curve with these virtual field trips that you can take from staying home.
Children: Adventures in Familyhood has a comprehensive list of virtual tours of zoos, aquariums, and safaris from all over the world, with animals ranging from snow leopards in Australia's Zoo Victoria to elephants in the wild with the safariLIVE web cam in South Africa.
You: If you need a break from work (or your kids), go on a digital vacation. You might not be able to go farther than your doctor’s office, but you can take a virtual tour of England, Yellowstone National Park, or Pompeii without arming yourself with a medical mask or hand sanitizer.
Being cooped inside all day is mind-numbing for adults, and it’s even worse for rambunctious kids who usually have an hour a day designated to recess or gym class. Here's how to stay active when pent up in your house.
Children: If you have a backyard, set up a fitness circuit course. Many of these exercises can be made with equipment you already own, from the classic (e.g., hula hoops and basketballs) to the repurposed (e.g., shoeboxes and water bottles).
For an indoor routine, sign your child up for online fitness programs like GoNoodle, which 14 million children use per month.
Teens: Sports and extracurriculars have likely been canceled with the quarantine. Keep your kids moving with Les Mill's Born to Move. This online program offers workouts for kids ages two to 16, with exercises divided by age group.
You: Since your gym is (hopefully) closed during the pandemic, you’ll have to make one at home. Thankfully, YouTube has curated dozens of at-home exercise videos for you to avoid staying sedentary during the quarantine. The #StayHome channel also has tutorials for baking, crafting, and meditating.
Your kids might not be able to hang out with their friends in real life, but there’s no reason they can’t chat with them online. Here's how they can socialize responsibly.
Children: If your child is too young to have a social media account, set up a virtual playdate on Messenger Kids. This secure app lets children text and video chat with their friends while you monitor their messages and manage their contact list. For storytime with Nana, Caribu lets relatives read stories and color books with your toddler, whether your family’s down the street or across the country. In light of the coronavirus lockdown, AT&T is funding free access on Caribu until May 24, 2020.
Teens: Older children can start a chat on FaceTime or a dance party on Instagram live. For more competitive kids, there are TikTok lipsync battles. The youth-centric app has been a creative outlet during the quarantine, inspiring celebrities like Justin Bieber to accept lip-synching challenges.
You: Work check-ins via Zoom help are a start, but it’s nice to socialize outside of a professional setting (even if your home office is your dinner table). Schedule a brunch or happy hour date with your friends via Skype, Facebook, or FaceTime. There’s also Netflix Party, which syncs your friend’s feed with yours so you simultaneously can watch The Office for the tenth time. Don’t have Netflix? TwoSeven is an easy-to-install web extension that helps friends under lockdown come together to watch Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services.
This is an unprecedented time filled with unknowns. When will the lockdown end? Will the pandemic affect my community? How can I prevent my family from getting the virus? When will things be normal again? Not having answers to these questions can be nerve-wracking for anyone regardless of age. Thankfully, there are ways to help you and your family cope with these uncertainties.
First, make sure that your children have the correct information and understand the importance of social distancing (and washing hands!). However, keep it simple and don’t go into too many details to calm their anxieties. If they do become scared or start acting out, be patient. Above all, staying positive is essential, as children mirror their caregivers’ emotions.
Your older children will be more aware of what's going on, as they’ll have easier access to the news. Remind them that it’s OK to be anxious, especially right now. Encourage them to vent their worries in their journal or to reach out to you, their friends, or a professional for emotional support.
As your family’s caregiver, you must take care of yourself. Start with mindfulness or wellness techniques to soothe your worries, or download a meditation app like Headspace. If your anxiety or depression are so severe that it affects your daily living, you’re not alone. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 45 percent of US citizens said the pandemic affected their health, while 19 percent said it had a “major impact.”
Fortunately, therapy has become more acceptable and accessible. It’s easier than ever to seek professional help with Moodpath and TalkSpace, apps that help you monitor your mental health and pair you with a licensed therapist. Likewise, Online Counseling is a global directory that pairs you with a counselor while staying in self-isolation.
The distress and emotional trauma from the coronavirus have prompted severely impacted countries to offer mental health services as a free service. In Italy, one of the coronavirus hotspots with nearly 14,000 reported deaths, the government is offering free psychological services to its citizens. Hong Kong, already reeling from the psychological strain of the protests, opened a mental health hotline in January. So far, it has received 25,000 calls.
These are trying times. If you or a family member are grappling with depression or, worse, suicidal thoughts, call one of these global suicide hotline resources.
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or not, reach out to your friends and loved ones — and make sure your children do the same. We might be social distancing, but we’ll need each other to get through this together.