By Ana Garcia
Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of how important family is.
Families are pillars, and kids are looking to their parents for structure and guidance to help them deal with stress and navigate these uncertain times.
For example, children may have important questions regarding their safety and well-being. That’s why it’s key to give them an appropriate amount of information and be aware of the health concerns surrounding COVID-19.
Here are 11 ways to keep your kids safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Educate your kids about the coronavirus
It’s important that kids learn about the virus from you – not from friends and the Internet.
So, it’s your job to give them accurate information in a way they can understand and relate to. If your kids are teens, perhaps you can also encourage them to pay attention to real media sites, like the Washington Post, CNN and their local city newspaper.
2. Quell your kids’ anxiety
Remember: it’s important for your kids to be aware of the coronavirus symptoms and the ways in which the virus is spread. But, you also don’t want to instill fear in your children.
A good way to reduce fear is to introduce mindfulness activities for kids into your day.
3. Set a routine
A routine is important to create a sense of normalcy at home, even at a challenging time and especially when other routines – like waking up at a certain time or packing lunches for your kids – may no longer be necessary.
You can start by creating a place for your kids to do schoolwork, such as a playroom or the dining room table. You can also have family game nights to break up the monotony of the days and build in some structure.
But, try to balance structure with flexibility, especially if your kids are too overwhelmed by online homework and tasks around the house. Lastly, take 5 minutes a day to practice meditation as this will help you and the kids relax and destress.
4. Make sure you know where your kids are
Long gone are the days when kids spent their entire day playing outside with other kids. Now more than ever, parents need to know where their children are to keep them safe.
As we’re living through the COVID-19 pandemic, the best place for kids is at home. However, lockdown can be a hard situation to endure, especially if your kids crave social interaction with their peers. For tips on how to keep kids entertained at home, see this story.
5. Keep your home clean
Keeping your house clean can seem like a huge ordeal. It can also be the perfect way to teach your kids about the importance of cleanliness.
While young kids may not be able to help disinfect surfaces using bleach, you can ask them to pitch in with tasks like loading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, making their beds, and putting their toys in in a bin after they use them (so you can then sanitize them).
6. Wear masks in public
The importance of wearing masks in public is all over the news. Plus, if possible you are still safer staying home unless you must return to an office for work, or shop for groceries and medical supplies.
This is a good opportunity to develop a habit of putting on a mask when leaving the house. Yes, this takes some getting used to, but it will soon become a habit with some positive reinforcements.
Here’s another pro-tip: Try buying kids fun masks that they will enjoy wearing. You can now purchase all sorts of different colored masks – some with cool animation characters – on Etsy or via local sellers.
7. Keep practicing social distancing
Also known as physical distancing, social distancing guidelines call for maintaining at least 6 feet between you and other people. So, be ready to enforce this if you see other people encroaching on your space; and limit your children’s contact with others outside your household.
One more thing: Remind your kids that the coronavirus can be spread by people who don’t look or feel sick, so it’s essential to stay away from others when possible.
8. Wash your hands
Hygiene should be a top concern right now, especially when it comes to your children.
So, teach your kids to properly wash their hands regularly, especially if they have been outside the house or around other people, (20 seconds with water and soap).
Also, it’s a good idea to bathe young kids daily (and make sure older kids take daily showers!) Remind them that keeping their bodies and clothes clean is a way to practice self-care.
9. Stay social
Staying home doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all your kid’s friends and loved ones.
And staying social is important as there are many health benefits to positive connections with others, including a lower risk of anxiety. But how do we stay in contact – especially now? Here are a few good ways:
- Using Facetime, Zoom and Skype to catch-up with other kids from school. You can even arrange game and movie nights that they can enjoy remotely.
- Gathering in small groups outside with masks on – at least 6 feet apart (but only if quarantines have been lifted in your area).
- Sign your kids up for an online kids yoga class! Yoga helps kids destress and online children’s yoga classes give your kids a chance to connect with other kids and practice yoga in a live video chat setting.
The quarantine is no excuse to be inactive. Instead, encourage your kids to exercise and be prepared to join in! For example, you can take this opportunity to create a mini-bootcamp for your little ones! Or, try these fun ways to keep your children moving!
- Dancing to their favorite music
- Running (perfect if you have a yard)
- Create an obstacle course
- Take nature walks (just be sure to wear facemasks!)
11. Continue learning
Keeping kids mentally healthy, happy and curious is something we cannot let go while we’re going through the coronavirus pandemic.
With this said, it’s a great time to try new things and continue learning with your kids. For some ideas, try your hand at:
Stay Healthy, Stay Safe
You can’t put a price on health and safety. As COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future, we’ll all need to adapt to this new normal.
So, refer to this guide for tips on how to keep you and your kids safe and healthy. Also, when in doubt, practice mindfulness and yoga for kids!