As NZ goes into lockdown for at least four weeks, to slow the curve of the spread of COVID-19 through our communities, there are many thoughts that are going through our heads…. Some panic based, some fear based, some curiosity, even some excitement perhaps…. These feelings may quickly change once the lockdown is in effect and here are a few tips to help you through.
Depending on the routine up until now with your little people this lockdown could affect you a little, or a lot…. For example – if you already home-school or are unschooling your children then the change in routine may be just around not seeing friends day to day in person and having normal activities cancelled, whereas if you are usually working full time and your little people are at preschool or school all day, then your adjustment to the lockdown may be a little harder; both for you and your little (or not so little) ones. We are all affected and will all be experiencing this the same way, yet differently.
Here are some thoughts that could help ease the adjustment to being in lockdown:
For the kids:
- Remember your little ones are having a hard time with this too and their ability to handle it with ease and grace will depend on how well their parents or caregivers are handling the change – that’s you. So be compassionate, kind and loving. They will act out every now and then in frustration, just as you may do, but again remember, be loving, caring and compassionate toward this.
- During the day, decide on whether you will have a routine or just be child led. I would recommend being child led and focusing on free play. Free play is therapeutic for children and gives them a chance to play out scenarios to process what is happening for them – that is play which is completely led by the child. A parent can also be involved, but without agenda. The child is the director in this play. It also gives the parent/caregiver an insight into how they are handling things. Play is also a great stress reliever both for parent and child, and is immersive, so try and refrain from interrupting your children’s play once they are immersed.
- If you like a routine as a parent, ensure you incorporate this for yourself e.g., your own routine for self-care and not a routine for your little ones. You can still set your alarm early and do all your morning routine – whatever that may be and try to go to bed around the same time every night. If you don’t have a self-care routine, now is the perfect time to create one – you may just need it.
- Still keep the standard routine of mealtimes, sleep times, bedtimes and bath times so you all have some consistency and a sense of normality. This can give children and adults alike a sense of stability when everything else is changing.
- If your children are struggling with lack of routine from not being at school then by all means get them to come up with a routine of their own… they may even like to draw or cut and paste pictures to remind them of what they have decided. They may only stick to this for a few days until they start to feel safe and comfortable with this new normal, so, don’t enforce it if they stop – trust that they know what they are doing.
- If your children are anxious about catching the virus teach them how to be cautious, not fearful. Teach them to be mindful of what they do now…. g., not touching any surface when we are out, staying 2 meters away from those not living with us, washing our hands regularly especially after/before touching our eyes, nose, mouth, etc…. You can help them create a chart to remind them OR sing a song to remind them (make one up). If they are very young assure them that you will be there to remind them so that they don’t need to remember and live up to it by being there.
- Allow your little ones to just ‘be’. This is a chance for them to rest, relax, de-stress, enjoy being a kid with no schedule….. They can still do all the ‘kid’ stuff e.g., building forts, making potions, playing unicorns/cowboys and Indians, etc… in your back yard or inside the house.
- If you have more than one child, prepare yourself to be the playmate if your other child needs time to do something else and see if you can get into the play, like you did when you were a kid.
- Try and spend one on one time with each child everyday and notice what happens.
- Embrace the mess! If you are not used to being home you will soon discover how quickly a mess can ensue. Mess = joy, learning, creativity, exploration, etc…. It really is a good thing. Try to clean up just once a day – maybe at afternoon tea time or before dinner or bed time and see if everyone will join in….
- If you still need to work from home, try and get a routine around this so everyone knows when your work time is and when you will be available for play.
- Depending on their age they may want to work on a project or a goal during this time. Work with them on this and support them as much as you can.
- Allow time each day for them to talk to their friends on the phone, face time, Skype, whatever. It is important that they maintain those friend connections.
- Ensure you highlight to them the importance of maintaining the integrity of your homes bubble, i.e., letting no one else, (other than those we are at home with) come into the 2 mt radius boundary for things like, swapping toys, books, etc… as this will potentially compromise everyone in the
- Have a few activities up your sleeve to help ease boredom, sooth relationship disturbances and to gain a connection.
- Limit the amount of news etc they are exposed to. This will often feed anxiety and fear around the virus. Instead focus on life and making the most of the situation.
- Limit your talk about the virus and your concerns about it around your little ones – they hear everything and it can easily be taken out of context and be fuel for anxiety.
- Bring the concept of resilience into your household – write up motivational quotes on your mirror or stick them to the walls and doors. Try changing them each day to keep your little ones motivated and positive.
- Here is a great indoor activity list from ‘Big Life Journal’ – great list of things kids of all ages can do at home and indoors. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U26PKLsQ-FpPrx3OUzDDkLqK27-fbDhG/view?usp=sharing
For you – the Parent/Adult
- Try to factor in time for yourself each day without your family. This may mean you get up earlier than others in your home. You may have a special, dedicated area in your home that people can use if they need some space, etc…
- Ensure health and safety boundaries are set in stone until restrictions are lifted.
- Make time for connection with others outside your bubble (your home) on a regular basis – again via phone, video call, etc…
- Lead by example.
- Keep your cool – your children’s responses will depend on your responses and the way you are feeling about the situation. If you are feeling angry, frustrated, confused, etc… then say so and allow that energy to release from your body rather than holding onto it.
- Act mindfully. Do something you enjoy or do something that needs doing….
- Embark on a self-care routine if you don’t have one already. If you did and this involved the gym or doing things that are currently restricted, then improvise….. or try something new….
- Notice the stages of grief –
Shock – Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news
Denial – Trying to avoid the inevitable
Anger – Frustrated outpouring of bottled up emotions
Bargaining – Seeing in vain for a way out
Depression —Final realization of the inevitable
Testing – Seeking realistic solutions
Acceptance – Finally finding the way forward
(7 stages of Grief modified from the Kubler-Ross model)
These may arise within yourself, your children, your partner or others in your home/friends/family circle. Noticing where you and your children are at in the cycle can help in finding ways to respond and connect. People will move through this in their own time and no one persons experience will be the same.
- Know when to seek help – if it all feels too overwhelming and you are tempted to break your bubble, then call for he Call a trusted friend or call the following helplines that are available during this time:
1737 – free call or text anytime for support from a trained counselor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or free text 4357 (HELP)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
- Limit the amount of news/Facebook feeds you follow – unless they are positive and focused on love and kindness
- Slow it down – often we are busy and don’t give ourselves the chance to slow down and notice what is going on around us…. Give yourself this time now. Notice the sun and the breeze on your skin, the smells, the colours, the tastes.
- Be present – your kids will love you being present with them, and it will feel great for you too – give it a try – put down the cell phone or other device, and just notice, watch, and enjoy the time with your little ones.
- Practice gratitude – say several things daily that you are grateful for. You could even make this a family practice around the dinner table and make it an opportunity to learn more about each other.
- Be resourceful – try to limit your exposure as much as possible by finding new ways to create things using what you have at home – whether it be crafting or building or cooking dinner or
- Get your finances sorted – apply for loan holidays ASAP, minimise expenditure etc… to relieve that worry.
- Ensure medications etc are ordered with plenty of time before they are needed.
- Get active – find ways to be active every day, in nature if you can, even if it is just outside your front door – three breaths of fresh air are a game changer.
- Learn something new – a new cooking method, a new tune on the guitar, a new language, a new way of being, etc….
- Love – find ways to show others you love and care about them – being there for them for support (if you are able), feeding others and yourself with hope and faith, instead of fear.
- Give yourself loose realistic goals each week (if you are goal driven).
- Get projects done that have been waiting for ‘a free day’.
- Give yourself love, kindness and care as well. You are in this too and it will be affecting you in some way.
- Feed love based thoughts, not fear based thoughts
- Have theme days if you are into that enjoying other cultures, or being creative
- Notice your thoughts
- Look for ways of earth rejuvenation during the lockdown – does the air smell cleaner, are the waterways looking clearer, are there more/new wildlife around that you haven’t seen before or for a while….?
- Problem Solve ways you could be more mindful of pollution and your carbon/rubbish footprint on our earth…
- Enjoy the time reconnecting with your family and friends without the busy background of normal life.
- Breathe – this too shall pass.
To assist in accepting and making the most of this situation there will be a quick meditation loaded each day for free – Access them here at Mind over Matter Nelson on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mindovermatternelson/ or search “Mind over Matter Nelson”