Parenting in Lockdown
It happened – we’re in lockdown! Even though many of us saw it coming, it hit me hard.
When the announcement came through, my mind raced with questions. What about the kids? What about my work? Am I essential? Do I need to cancel? Reschedule? On and on it went. I became stressed, worried, and confused. I finished work, put on my mask, (avoided the panic shopping), picked up the kids, and went home to start lockdown. Now what?
Many of us have been through lockdown before, but Canberra hasn’t had a lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic. Circumstances were very different then. This is also our first snap lockdown, and while it is currently for three weeks, we don’t know if it will be extended. All that uncertainty is hard.
We’re all facing our own challenges at home. Whether you're living with two kids under five in the suburbs, a lively teenager in an apartment, or managing changes to your normal shared care of children between homes. Feeling stressed and worried is all part of the process, but it's nothing that you can't manage with small yet effective actions.
There is so much information and so many ideas out there, and it can be overwhelming! I don’t want to add to the overwhelm, so I’m going to share three things I find most helpful for me and my family. This list of tips and tricks is the perfect way to start your self-caring lockdown. I hope it not only helps you get through the lockdown, but maybe even helps you have some fun along the way.
1. Limit the news
Taking in news 24/7 can be extremely overwhelming, especially in a stressful situation like lockdown. It’s tempting to check the numbers again, or listen to all the press statements, but we can easily overload ourselves with information all day. This can also be very stressful and confusing for our children, especially those who may not be old enough to fully understand what is going on. Try limiting yourself to checking in with the news once or twice a day to keep yourself updated rather than having a constant stream of information coming through.
Creating routine is such an easy and important way to help keep ourselves healthy and engaged, and it can minimise some of the impact of lockdown. Each family’s day is going to look different. Some will be working from home, others going to work. Some will be taking kids to school/daycare, while others will be trying to manage with everyone at home. Whatever your situation, what can we look for in a routine?
Get dressed: staying in our PJs is tempting (and comfy!) but getting dressed is really helpful, even if it’s into trackies.
Food: Try to keep a structure to mealtimes. Sticking to regular meals helps ensure everyone is getting enough to eat and also tends to increase our intake of nutritious foods. It also prevents hanger: the big feelings that erupt when we’re hungry. (This is a real issue in our home!)
Family connection: Family time is even more important during lockdown. Although we’re all at home together, it can be easy to slip into habits of isolating in separate rooms or doing our own things. Family meals are a great way of keeping the connection and conversations open, so try to aim for one family meal a day.
Get outside: Vitamin D is not only important for your physical health, but getting outside is extremely important to prevent you going stir crazy inside! Keep the family active and get your daily dose of outside oxygen.
Sleep: Try to keep to your normal sleep schedule. While it’s easy for bedtimes to slip, when we’re all sleep deprived everyone struggles and tensions rise.
Anyone who knows me know I’m a huge advocate for play, and lockdown is another time where fun and play are so important. We can make a routine here as well by ensuring there is time for play and fun each day, even adding a fun ritual each day of lockdown. Have a home “happy hour” with mocktails, a daily obstacle course or set up a gaming tournament. Play and fun are vital at any age and help release tension and build connection.
We're all going to have a new 'normal' for a while. It might not be easy at times, but we can build a little fun into it along the way. Today, my family had a nacho picnic on the lounge room floor while watching a movie together. What might you do?
For more helpful tips and ideas, check out these great infographics from UNICEF.
Educational and Developmental Psychologist
Mum and child at heart