COVID-19 Family Tips
The Fathering Project acknowledges we are all sharing similar feelings of anxiety about recent events and uncertainty about what lies ahead.
Our feelings as parents are amplified knowing we have children and families going through this as well.
It’s becoming apparent that facing a public crisis requiring social separation can make us feel powerless and isolated. There are, however, things you can do to support your family and local community during this time to reduce the impact of such feelings.
We have developed some tips to help you.
What you need to know
Ensure that you refer to accurate and up-to-date information from official sources, such as these:
Your children and Coronavirus COVID-19
As a parent, you will have been thinking a lot about your family and how they might be impacted, not only by the virus but by all the other changes taking place around you.
This is a time that is new to us all and although there is a lot to process, your children will be looking to you for reassurance.
- Talk to your children often and keep reassuring them.
- Reinforce to older children that by staying at home and keeping a distance from others we are helping to stop the virus from spreading.
- Encourage your children to talk by asking questions and listening to gauge how they are feeling.
- Watch for signs of distress or anxiety. It is reasonable for them to be concerned because we have never experienced anything like this before.
- Be aware of what children are tuning in to. They may be incidentally picking up more information than you realise.
- Shield younger children from television news, social media and conversations that may cause them anxiety.
- Avoid adult conversations around children. If you need to have conversations that might be stressful for children to hear make sure they are not with hearing distance or involved.
Talking to your kids about COVID-19
It is important to have conversations with your children about COVID-19. Between the constant stream of information through news, social media, other kids, and school announcements, they are probably more aware of what’s going on than you realise.
The most important thing to do is educate yourself first – see the links above for the most relevant and verified information.
Tips for talking to younger children:
- Stay calm and keep it simple and brief as too much information about might frighten them.
- Younger children need to feel safe and loved and will respond to your stress. Stay calm and positive with your messages;
- Acknowledge that some people are getting sick with a germ that might make them cough and sneeze. You don’t need to worry; we are doing lots of things to make sure we are well.
- Focus on the things you can all do – washing hands often.
Tips for talking to older children:
- When talking to older children, sit down and talk to them in a calm and reassuring way to ensure they are getting accurate information.
- Translate essential information for older children into terms they understand ahead of time, rather than needing to address misinformation and rumours coming from classmates or online sources.
- Find out what they already know. Let your children guide the discussion by addressing what they have heard, seen, their feelings, and their questions
- Keep checking in with your kids to see if they need reassurance, or if they have any new questions.
Families at home together
You may be faced with the challenge of restricting the movement of your family to your home with periods of possible confinement.
You may have to work from home, or experience interrupted or even suspended work. These can all be very stressful situations.
On the positive side, you may have a valuable opportunity to bond with your children and family.
Tips for families at home:
- Establish routines and agreements with your family members to help you get along and function successfully during this time.
- Book a regular family meeting time. Begin with an update on what is happening, and check in on each family member to see how they are coping.
- Make family agreements and establish rules or guidelines to maintain respect and cooperation as a family during this time.
- Create a family activity plan to organise your days. This will help everyone to settle into a routine to allow for working at home and kids learning at home.
Working from home
You may be required to work from home, without knowing how long the situation will last.
Additionally, your children might be home from school, and you may also need to take into account your partner’s need to work from home as well.
So now is a good time to make a plan.
Tips for working at home:
- Explain that you will have work to do on your own, and at the same time they will be doing things on their own as well.
- Set the children up first so they have everything they need to be engaged for the time you have planned.
- Let them know that you will be taking some breaks and during these breaks, they will have your attention and can do things together.
- You could go for a walk (if you’re not self-isolating), play a game, do some schoolwork or read a book together.
- If you have a partner working from home as well, you can take turns in scheduling work times and breaks.
- Be very positive and encouraging when they do the right thing and try to be independent without interrupting.
Learning at home
The most important thing to know is that your children’s education will be okay.
Don’t forget that as the first educator of your children, you are in partnership with the school in the education of your kids.
Tips for learning at home:
For younger children
- Remember play is crucial for learning and development, they can never have too much play.
- Roleplay is a powerful tool for early learning. Setting up a shop encourage language and vocabulary development, giving instructions, early mathematical concepts such as counting and sharing.
- Reading to your children is highly valuable
For school-aged children
- Establishing routines and expectations around their learning times and other daily activities
- Set up their learning area with everything they need in one spot.
- Create a space where you or another adult is able to monitor your child’s learning as much as possible according to your child’s stage of development
- Checking in with your child regularly to help them manage their schedule of work
- Monitoring how much time your child is spending online.
Wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
In your role as parent and caregiver, there are a number of things you can consider to look after the emotional wellbeing of your family.
Tips to maintain your wellbeing:
- Take care of yourself. Your children will be looking to you and how you are managing.
- Monitor media coverage and set limits; both for yourself and your children around what and how much you watch.
- Keep your family connected with friends and other family members, via video calls, text etc.
- Make time to talk and listen to your child; ask open questions.
- Tune into your children’s feelings; acknowledge and normalise their fears and reassure them.
- Reach out for support if you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling in any way.