By Laura Salitros, D.O. – Lee’s Summit Physicians Group
In our current society, we’ve set up our lives to never truly have to leave home. Now we are faced with a global pandemic.
In order to try to protect our most vulnerable populations and to prevent overwhelming our medical system, we have been asked to STAY HOME. This leaves a lot of us wondering how to navigate the weeks to come.
Take a deep breath.
The first step is to take a deep breath, give yourself some GRACE, and come up with a plan. Have your kids had unlimited screen time and crazy bedtimes for the past week or two? If so, it’s okay. But it’s time for us to find a new normal.
Tips for finding your new normal:
- Maintain a schedule. Have your kids wake up at the same time each day, take a shower, and get dressed. Keep a regular bedtime routine. Quality sleep is important for our physical and mental health.
- Continue to monitor screen time. Recommended screen time is none for kids less than 2 years of age, less than 1 hour for kids 2-5 years of age, and less than 2 hours for older kids and teens. Depending on resources you’re using for school, this may look a little bit different for now. Just remember that we still don’t want unlimited screen time even if a lot of it is educational material.
- Many parents have suddenly been thrust into the role of homeschool teacher while also trying to work from home. This can be overwhelming! The good news is that there are a lot of people out there to help.
- Check your emails from the school as well as the school website to find out whether your school has specific online resources or assignments for your child.
- Ask for help from seasoned homeschoolers! Many parents who homeschool have been graciously sharing resources online.
- Research education companies who have free or reduced-rate subscriptions while schools are shut down. There are also many authors who are doing live read-aloud events and artists who are doing live drawing lessons.
- Have a designated place for learning. Try to make sure that your kids are avoiding their bed to study. We want them to associate their bed with sleep.
- For kids and teens who will have online classes, make sure they pay attention to deadlines. They may also have online hour requirements to meet.
- Limit distractions. Turn off your phone or adjust notifications during designated study times.
- Get some exercise. Whether you try an online yoga class or get outside (appropriately distanced from other people) to play, run, ride bikes, or walk, we all need to make sure we get our bodies moving.
- Get some sunshine! When the rain stops, get outside to play and learn. Have a picnic, plant a garden, look for bugs, draw a picture on the driveway, or help an elderly neighbor take care of their lawn.
- Enjoy your time as a family! Play board games, make cookies, read books, do art projects, or pick up a new hobby.
- Get organized. You’re stuck at home, anyway. Go ahead and get your kids helping with spring cleaning – it’s a great time to organize all those closets!
- Stay connected. FaceTime your friends and family even when you can’t physically be with them.
- Look for increasing signs of depression and anxiety. Isolation, lack of physical activity, and increasing electronic use can be triggers. Call for help if you are seeing this.
This is an opportunity to learn.
While this global pandemic will present many challenges for individuals and families, it also presents us with an opportunity to learn. We can learn to slow down, to realize what is really important in our lives, to be creative, to grow together as families, and to come together as a community (while keeping our appropriate social distance from one another). Significant challenges can teach us what it means to be resilient.
I am optimistic that we can all come out on the other side of this as better people as long as we remember to be kind.
Finally, keep in mind that you are your child’s North Star. They look to you for comfort. They mirror your behavior. Stay calm and be positive as much as you can, and remember that we are all in this together.