Healthy Families During COVID-19

Healthy families during COVID-19

Talking to children

Children will pick up on the concerns and anxiety of the people around them, and this can be through listening to what is being discussed or observing what is happening at home and at their school, kindy or childcare.  Do not be afraid of speaking to children about COVID-19.  Use language that is suitable for the age group of the child, be calm in any discussions and reassure that you are here to help them.  Do not overwhelm them with too many facts or unnecessary information (e.g. death rates).  Let them know that you are there to answer any of their questions and discuss any of their concerns.  

You can explain how they can assist everyone to stay safe by washing their hands and young children love singing "Happy Birthday" twice! 

Due to the easing of restrictions, we can have a family dinner with up to 10 members of your family. For families who are larger try including other members with FaceTime or Zoom. 

    Opportunities during COVID-19 to maintain a healthy family

    • Connect

      • Find time each day to focus on the people who matter most to you.
      • Take time to reach out to someone in your family and check they are ok.
    • Organise

      • Maintain a routine.
      • Plan activities for children to keep them occupied during times when you need to be productive or attend meetings. This maybe craft activities or a movie.
      • Have a family dinner with extended family through FaceTime or Zoom. Everyone cooks a similar meal and sit down and eat it together.
      • Have a family movie night complete with pyjamas, popcorn and ice-creams. Laugh and chat about the movie.
    • Venture

      • Plan something different to do with your family to give them variety (which fits in with Government guidelines and restrictions).
    • Improve

      • Identify technology that will teach you and your family a new skill. Remember that this is a very unusual time and you may find that you are utilising more ‘screen time’ than you normally would. Just remind yourself and the children that this is only a temporary adjustment.
      • Practice gratitude at a meal with the children. Ask each child what was good about the day and how they felt. It gives them an opportunity to reflect on their day and share with their family.
    • Do

      • Try to get the adults and children outside for part of the day.
      • Go on a treasure hunt walk. Set things to find like a big dog, black cat, parrot or certain coloured flowers. Allow the children to tick off the list as they find them.
      • Sit and talk to the children about what is happening. Keep it simple, clear and age appropriate.
      • Reassure them that their hand washing and staying home is helping to make the family safe!

    If you are working from home with children

    Many parents and children are navigating a new reality at home together because of COVID-19.  Establishing routines is a key way to ease the burden and can assist children manage this time as well.  The Yale Child Study Centre, Yale Medicine, suggests the following tips:

    Most importantly be kind to yourself and your child.  Don’t expect the same level of productivity from yourself and your child as prior to the restrictions of COVID-19.  This doesn’t mean that we are not trying.  It means that we are learning and finding a way to survive and thrive during this time!

    • Create a schedule

      Sit down with your child/children each morning and make a schedule of what the day is going to look like. The goal is not to re-create the school day exactly, as that is impossible, but to build a new routine for doing schoolwork at home. For most ages, 30-minute blocks are best for specific academic tasks

    • Get up and move

      It might be going for a walk or doing some dancing together. Movement will assist in refreshing the parent as well as assisting the child!

    • Spend time with children

      Schedule time to be with the children. You may like to say that you will work for 45 minutes and then you will do a fun activity with them for 15 minutes

    • Embrace technology

      While it may not be possible to have grandparents to come over and look after the children is it possible that they can connect through technology. Can you set up a book reading time when grandparents can read a book or maybe you can arrange with friends to lead a craft making group for 30 minutes? 

    • Be mindful

      Be mindful in the way you speak to children about COVID 19. Children will respond to nonverbal language as well as what you are speaking. Keep the language age appropriate and explain how much work you and they are doing to stay well such as washing their hands, staying at home, eating healthy and other things you are doing. 

    • Watch for signs of stress

      Be on the lookout for signs of anxiety such as irritability or whining or even temper tantrums. This may be a sign that you need to take a breath and ask them what is on their mind. Encourage them to talk about their worries. Explain to them the importance of your work but stress that they are more important. Through the use of your schedule you can show the child when they can have play time with you but again stress you are always there if they are worried.

    • Be grateful

      Look for the silver linings and practice gratitude.  Ask them what was great about what they just did.  It might be about a movie they watched or some craft they did.  Encourage them to tell you about why it was so good and be excited with them.  Now it is your turn to share with them something great you achieved! Consider how you can build your flexibility!

    Further information

    Please contact the University’s Workplace Wellbeing Specialist (HR Branch), Ronda Bain