IS YOUR FAMILY HAVING A HARD TIME BEING TRAPPED AT HOME? TRY THIS. By April Hall, submitted by Kathy O’Neill RN, Parish Nurse
We’re taking significant measures to protect our physical health, but in these times of uncertainty, it’s also extremely important to take care of our mental health. We’re facing a situation where we are not in control and are seeing an extreme amount of change that impacts us and our families.
Chances are you’re at home managing much more than you even thought possible, requiring not only you, but everyone, to be flexible in all areas of their lives. Adding routines and structure to your days is one of the best ways to navigate these uncertain times. These tips may help:
- Consider using a schedule visible for all to see to help keep everyone on task and reduce anxiety about what will be happening next.
- Add exciting elements to your typical routine, like singing a favorite song while brushing teeth, watching home movie or baking cookies.
- Identify projects that need to be completed and assign family members jobs like prepping dinner or washing laundry. Choose activities that will require both group and independent work. This practice of keeping routines but adding special moments can help everyone at home stay positive.
- Another challenge that comes with being home is continuous access to social media and television, where constant updates are keeping us informed about what’s happening around us. But how much news is too much news?
- Monitor television and social media use to make sure children are getting accurate information.
- When speaking to children, it’s important to communicate what is happening and how this will directly affect their lives.
- Give them the opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions.
Remember to validate feelings and explain information that is necessary and digestible for the child to understand. For example: “There are lots of people who are sick right now. We need to wash our hands and give people personal space. Schools, restaurants and lots of our favorite places will be closed, and we do not know when they will open again. We can help others stay safe by following the rules.”
If you’re looking for structured or calming activities for your children, check out these virtual field trips, craft ideas and aquarium live feeds.
To sum it all up, the most important points for these next couple weeks or months are to:
- Monitor television and social media, but only to a degree!
- Listen to concerns, validate feelings and provide an appropriate amount of information
- Maintain a routine as much as possible, especially morning and bedtime
- Provide activities and work for children
April Hall is a behavior therapy specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital.