Ok so I’m not sure it’s possible to live like normal when you’re in quarantine. Nothing about this whole situation is normal. Especially here in Spain where we are pretty much on house arrest (you can read more about that here). When you have kids though it’s important to try to make life in lockdown as normal as possible.
I’ve been through the shocked, depressed, stressed and angry parts of being quarantined now, and am trying to accept that this is life for the forseeable future. We’ve now been in lockdown for a month and have at least another few weeks to go – this is the new normal.
If like me, you’ve been struggling to deal with being stuck at home for so long, you might be looking for ways to try and make life feel as normal as possible. Both for your own sanity and for the sake of the kids, who as we know pick up on any changes and stresses. So while it’s not exactly business as usual at the moment, here are my suggestions of ways to make life in lockdown as normal as possible for kids…
Get up at a normal time
I hate getting up early so one of the best parts of lockdown is not having to get up and ready for the school run. However, once you get into the habit of getting up late every day it’s really hard to break it. Before you know it, half the day has gone and whilst we don’t exactly have lots to do it’s not good for anyone’s energy levels or motivation.
If you’ve got small children this might not be a problem, but those of you with older kids like us have probably got out of the stage of getting jumped on at 6am. Set your alarm before you go to bed, even if it’s for an hour or 2 later than normal, and make sure the kids get out of bed at a reasonably normal time.
Lounging around in your pyjamas is lovely, but it doesn’t really make you feel very motivated to do anything. When I’m on the sofa in my PJs all I want to do is grab the duvet and watch a movie. On some days in lockdown this is the best thing to do, but if you have work to do or need to get the kids doing school work then getting dressed helps you all get into the right frame of mind to get down to it. Even if you do just put on sweatpants and a hoodie!
Have a routine
I think one of the top things that helps to make life in lockdown as normal as possible is having a routine. Kids love routines, it’s what they’re used to at school. Getting up, getting dressed and having breakfast as usual helps to add a bit of normality to these weird days. Your routine will depend on your children’s ages and whether you also have work or not, but we tend to find that school work in the morning, followed by lunch, and then ‘free time’ in the afternoon works well. If you’re feeling brave you could also add in a time that they are allowed to use screens, once their school work is done.
Get some fresh air
If you are allowed to go out, do it! Not everyone (those of us in Spain!) are lucky enough to be able to go for a walk or bike ride, so if you are able to make sure you take full advantage of it. If you can’t go out and about, try to make sure that you and the kids get outside into the garden or onto your balcony for at least an hour each day. It’s important to get fresh air, vitamin D, and also have a change of scenery.
You can play games, read outside, paint or draw, make an obstacle course for the kids, play with water, anything to just get them outdoors. If you don’t have a garden or balcony, at least open the doors and windows to let the fresh air in. Maybe you can set up a table, chair or play mat in front of the open window for them?
Easier said than done when you’re worried about work and finances, can’t hear yourself think, and have a kids complaining they’re bored and hungry constantly. Kids pick up on their parents conversations and moods, and they worry easily. If you let them know how stressed you are, it can affect their moods, sleep, and general behaviour. Try to keep talks about the more serious subjects until after they’ve gone to bed, and reassure them that everything will be ok. If you need some help staying positive, you might want to try some of these suggestions.
Hands up if you’ve been eating more rubbish than normal. Yep, me too! With kids not doing as much exercise as usual it’s important to try to stick to their normal diet. It’s easy to let kids grab biscuits and unhealthy snacks, they seem to be hungry every 5 minutes at the moment – how did they cope at school before? But you don’t want to start bad habits that will be hard to break in a few weeks or months time. Give them a list of snack options or put a selection of snacks in a lunchbox each morning so they can help themselves while you control what they can and can’t eat.
Stay in touch
One of the positives to come out of lockdown is that we’re talking to friends and relatives more than usual. And I mean talking, not texting or sending a WhatsApp message. It’s good for kids to be able to see friends and family still, especially those they’re used to spending time with often. We’ve done more video calls than ever before over the last month and it’s nice to see people’s faces at this horrible time. In normal life everyone’s so busy it can be really hard to find times that suit everyone for a catch up, but hopefully after things do go back to normal staying in touch will be something that continues.
On a normal day after school or at the weekend you probably wouldn’t just let the kids spend all day on their iPad or phone. It’s really easy to do that at the moment for an easy life, and I’ll freely admit that screen use has gone way up in our house over the last few weeks. It’s not what any of us want our kids to be doing all day though and the only way to avoid it is to provide lots of alternative suggestions for them to choose from. Write a list of ideas and stick it to the fridge or somewhere they can easily see it. Put everything into a box or a pile so they can find things to do. For example, you might have a stack of board games, another box of drawing supplies, and a box of Lego in the living room so it’s easily accessible.
Spend time together
We’ve all complained at some point that we don’t have enough time for ‘family time’ between school, work, after school clubs, rushing around, housework, cooking dinner, and everything else in day to day life. Well now we have all the time in the world and no excuse not to make the most of it. If you have older kids they probably want to play by themselves most of the time and don’t really need you to sit an entertain them as much. Try to make time to play a board game as a family or sit down to watch a movie together. It’s also the perfect opportunity to cook dinner together and sit down to eat as a family, something that many of us just don’t have time for usually.
Talk about your plans
This lockdown will end at some point and life will go back to what we’re used to. We might have had holidays, parties or days out cancelled but we’ll get to do it all again soon. Don’t be afraid to talk about the exciting things you’ll do when you can, we all need something to look forward to and knowing that better things are coming can help to make life in lockdown as normal as possible.
I hope you’re coping ok at the moment and have found some of these suggestions useful. What have you been doing to make life in lockdown as normal as possible for your kids?