10 ways to help your family during these challenging times
Compiled by Rachel Carlson, Parent Educator at Andover Preschool and Family Place
Parent educators can provide helpful advice and ideas for families with children at all ages and stages of life. As families work to establish new routines in these unprecedented times, consider ten ways to support your family:
- Stick to a daily routine. Your new daily schedule may be different from what your family is used to but keep as many routines in place as you can (i.e. mealtimes, bedtimes, etc.). Routines help children feel a sense of security when other things in their lives have changed.
- Get outside. There are many scientific benefits of being outside, including boosts in energy, mood, and immunity. Plus, we can all benefit from more Vitamin D this time of year.
- Exercise. Aside from all the well-known benefits of physical exercise, exercise is a natural remedy to anxiety/stress and even promotes better sleep. Go for a family walk, run laps around your house, or create an indoor obstacle course.
- Limit news and conversations about the virus with your children. Answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner and acknowledge their feelings, but don’t dwell on the news of the virus. Reassure children that there are lots of helpers working hard to keep everyone safe.
- Connect with friends/family daily. “Social distancing” doesn’t have to mean social isolation, especially in this digital age. Call or Facetime family and friends and encourage children to engage.
- Set aside time for creativity. Studies have found that art can help people process stress. Set out art supplies and join your children in the fun. Take digital photos of kids’ artwork and text them to friends and relatives to help brighten their day.
- Take breaks from each other. Everyone in the family can benefit from a designated quiet time in the day, and spending time alone can help you regroup as a parent. Also, look for ways to break up groups in the family. Children often need time apart from siblings during extended periods together. Parents can rotate one-on-one time with each child as they enjoy favorite activities together, such as board games or hiking a new trail.
- Indulge in new, fun activities that you might not allow at other times. Camp out in the family room, have a “Yes Day,” paint a family mural inside the garage. Be creative and think outside the box!
- Take care of yourself. Parents cannot continue to meet children’s needs if they are neglecting their own needs. Make time to do something you enjoy. Self-care is important, too!
- Start a daily gratitude tradition. Write in a gratitude journal before bed. Make “I’m thankful for…” statements a part of your child’s bedtime routine. Share highlights and lowlights around the dinner table, celebrating the day’s highlights and teaching perspective on the lows. When we focus attention on the things we are thankful for, even during challenging times, we can improve our own outlook and help our children feel safe and cared for.
Licensed parent educators are happy to share parenting tips or point families in the right direction of resources available. Anoka-Hennepin Community Education provides Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) resources for families with children ages birth to grade three, year-round. Subscribe to receive more updates and resources via email from ECFE.