Life at the moment is not straightforward. In the past few weeks, we’ve been through some unprecedented times. Between schools and the shops closing, everything can feel very surreal right now. It’s important to maintain a positive outlook though. The only way we are going to make it through is if we all work together and keep the momentum going.
With this in mind, we’ve got some practical tips to help you get through the next couple of weeks. These are things that you can do as a family and for yourself. During a time like this, it’s important to not only look after those you love but to look after yourself as well.
Tips on how to make the most of your time with your children
Maintain a Routine
Everything right now might seem a bit formless and it could be hard to tell one day from the next. This is why a routine makes sense now more than ever, especially for the kids. A couple of handy things to keep on a regular schedule are waking up, mealtimes and bedtimes. These can form a solid structure for the days and can not only help your kids out but give you help too.
Getting Regular Exercise and Fresh Air
While being a little restricted to once a day it’s important to make the most of it. Getting outside and getting some fresh air can do you the world of good. Spending time outdoors in nature can help to give a healthy sense of perspective. Being caught up at home in the 24-hour news cycle can weigh you down. Taking time to appreciate the beauty of nature can help make things seem a little less daunting. This is especially true now that we are coming into the summer months.
Make a Boredom Jar
Trying to come up with something new every day can be one of the biggest challenges of the whole quarantine. The idea behind a boredom jar is that if you have young kids, you can sit down them and write down as many activities as you can on small pieces of paper. These can be anything from a game of hide seek to a game of monopoly. You place all these pieces of paper in a jar. On the days that you can’t think of anything to do and the oh so familiar phrase of “I’m bored!” comes out, you get the kids to pick out an activity. By allowing the kids to pick the activity you are giving them the power to decide.
This is likely something you have seen up and down social media at the moment. Everyone seems to have been caught up in making their own particular batch of bread. There’s a good reason for this. Baking is a great way to pass the time and can be improved and changed with each loaf that comes out of the oven. One variety that seems to have captured people’s imaginations is sourdough. Baking sourdough bread is akin to having a pet in the house. The sourdough culture has to be maintained, nothing too taxing though! Getting hands-on with the dough, baking and the anticipation for kids can be plenty of excitement. Plus you’ll get a fresh loaf of bread for the house every time. Of course, this does depend on supplies available at the shops. They should be getting back to normal soon though.
Organising Virtual Play Dates
One of the more painful aspects of the lockdown is being separated from friends. This can be especially difficult for children who might find it hard to understand why they can’t call over to their friends. One way of approaching this problem is by organising regular virtual ‘play dates’. There are plenty of ways that you can organise a social video call with your child's friends.
Whether it’s through Zoom, Facebook Messenger or whatever platform you choose to use there are plenty of options. Depending on your setup you can use iPads, tablets or laptops to set the call up. For example whether it’s building lego or painting, it can be good to have an activity in mind for them before the call. These kinds of ‘play dates’ can be great ways to break up the week and make sure that the days aren’t all rolling into one.
Tips for looking after yourself during lockdown
Being on lockdown with children can seem like a full-time job on its own. Nevermind the fact that you might have plenty of other things to look after. Now more than ever it is important to make sure that you’re taking time to look after yourself. Even if it happens to be 10 minutes every day, making sure that you’re making the most of it can make a huge difference.
Limit Your Exposure to Social Media and the News
This might sound a bit counter-intuitive as you want to stay as informed as possible. Yet there is such a thing as too much news. Staying glued to the news for most of the day can have an impact on even the strongest person. The fact is that we find ourselves in a situation that is unfamiliar and has no real clear outcomes. Of course, there are going to be plans put in place but there has to be a certain amount of acceptance. At the moment there are things out of our control. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the news or official updates. Limiting the time you spend around these types of media is going to be key to not allowing it to weigh on you.
Take it Easy on Yourself
As we’ve mentioned before these are unprecedented times. It’s okay to be overwhelmed by it all. Feeling this way is more common than you might think. It can be even more challenging if you have little ones to look after. As parents, we can feel like we can’t have an off day. The important thing to remember is that there is plenty of support and help out there if you’re feeling the strain. Taking some time for yourself, even if it's 10 minutes a day can make a difference.
Respecting your Child’s Boundaries
As parents, we only want the best for our kids. That can mean we try and make sure that they have the best possible experience every day of the lockdown. They will need time to themselves though. This can be especially true if you happen to have teenagers. Enjoying the time you have with your kids can be important but it can also be important to let them have personal time to themselves.
Have your own personal goals
In making sure that our kids are looked after we can often forget about our own needs. Taking some time for ourselves is important but so is taking some time to think about projects and goals. Right now it might seem like the time between now and when the lockdown ends might be stretching out in front of you. It can be the perfect time to try out that skill or finally get into that hobby that’s been on your bucket list. Things like getting into yoga, running, D.I.Y. around the house can give you a great sense of achievement. Picking up something new every week can make the difference to your own mental health.
Stay in touch with Friends
If you’re starting to feel the boredom set in, chances are your friends are too. While virtual play dates for the kids can be important, your own version of that can be as important. It might seem like a small thing but checking in with friends can have a big impact on not only your own day but theirs too. You don’t even have to look at it from a mental wellbeing perspective either. These calls can be great for sharing tips and advice too.
We’re all in this Together
At times it can seem very bleak and it can be hard to face each day. It can seem tough to be cooped up like we are but it’s important to look at life as a glass half full. The quality time that we spend with our families could be something that we could cherish for years to come. We can get caught up in the cycle of the day to day grind. Always looking ahead instead of acknowledging what we have. Right now we have the opportunity to slow down and take stock of things. The reality is that the bad times are only temporary and that the good times will come again. At Smart, we are here to support you through this tough time for you and your family. With this in mind we’ve put together a planner to help you out over the next few weeks.
A Guide to our Weekly Planner
Being able to maintain a routine is key to a healthy body and a happy mind. As a result of the last few weeks being so turbulent, it can be more difficult than ever to maintain a routine. It can be very tempting to spend hours watching netflix or eating junk food. Having a weekly planner can help you and your family keep up the motivation to get things done.
Writing down a plan for each day can make it so much easier to keep track of your family's routine. You can set down specific times for meals, waking up and getting out for some fresh air.
Of course not everyone is perfect. That’s why we have included a section for notes. In this part of the planner you can include things that worked or you might need to change. This can even be something that you need to remember for a certain day.
Mood or Feelings
Looking after a family can be so hectic at times we can forget about looking after ourselves. With this section you can include an overall feeling or mood for the day. This is a simple way to keep track of how things are going. Right now some days are worse than others so it’s important to be aware of those tougher days. You can add in some space on the planner for me time on days that you’re not feeling the best.
Time can weigh pretty heavily right now, especially when all you might want to do is get things back to normal. Having goals in place, whether big or small could really make the difference. They can be big things like running a 5k or they can be small things like reading a chapter of your book. Being able to tick these off at the end of the week can give you a great sense of satisfaction.