Ever wondered how to cope with children during this period? My story is not so different from yours.
I came back from work on a Friday, did my normal weekend chores amidst the stress of having all the children at home.
Shortly afterwards, I heard the news that there was a new boss in town known as COVID-19 a.k.a. ‘Corona Virus’.
Talking about children, (chuckles) I mean three boys and a girl all aged between 4 – 12 years. If you are from Africa, I can almost hear you say that’s not so much mama, relax, some folks have six. Well, I think mine is different.
The boys have energy meant for a battalion in the war front and more inquisitive than any scientist in history.
The girl, the first, always feels she can stand in for mummy but ends up worsening the situation.
My dear reader, I do not want to bore you with so much story of what happens in my home but the truth is – I was not mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically prepared for the life I was compelled to live in the coming weeks.
Hubby can be helpful with the children, but the moment the world war starts, my dear husband remembers he needs time alone in our room to handle some official business to provide for the family. This, thus, leaves to me to cope with children alone.
The nanny was a big help, but she had to leave as a result of the crisis.
Now, I hope you can understand how I felt when the announcement was made that the state where I live in with my family was among the three states in Nigeria to be on total lock-down.
Thanks to COVID-19.
The story above is what many families all over the world can relate with. We never saw the end of the first quarter, and the beginning of the next quarter of the year 2020 turning out this way.
We are all required to stay home all day, cope with children during this period, and still maintain our mental health.
Even as I write, I write from home.
While it may seem negative, I implore my readers to see the compulsory holiday in a positive light. There are positives to this situation and ways to cope. I’ll be talking from experience.
Below are some tips to help.
De-Stress Yourself As A Parent
Children are so observant and will usually replicate the behavior of their parents. When parents are stressed out with any challenge it affects children psychologically, and otherwise.
If the parents are tensed and acts in anger, the child will react similarly very often. Acting under stress will make us not to seize the moment. You have to assure yourself that this global challenge will soon come to an end. Make a promise to make the best out of it as a family.
There are various ways to de-stress oneself, and it all depends on what works for you.
For me, I find time to dance, yes dance, and listen to music while at it. I also love to cook, so I take out time to cook a favorite meal and enjoy it with a bottle of chilled wine.
Find what works for you and stick to it.
Family Round Table
As parents, we often feel we have to protect our children from any kind of harm. Due to this feeling, we parents believe children should not be privy to certain information.
The truth, notwithstanding, is that the whole family needs to know all about the virus and their role in keeping the family safe. It is also okay for family members to talk about fears and hopes.
Draw a Plan
The family needs a plan to guide daily activities. The plan needs to be drawn up with the input of all family members. It will be help establish healthy routines that will benefit both parents and children, and possibly reduce friction in executing these activities.
Planning together also gives each family member a sense of responsibility and self-worth, hence, ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling.
Moreover, being organized will reduce stress level to the barest minimum and the daily routines may turn to habits that can glue the family together even after the crisis.
The ability to work together as one family may be a uniting force and will make it easier to manage a challenge that might come up later as everyone feels he or she was part of the decision making process.
Develop Activities That Build Intimacy
In July 2013, I took some children from Nigeria to Ghana for an Edutainment program. On one of the days, during our ‘creating lasting memories session’, I asked each child to share their best memory of the time spent with their family. One of the children, aged 8 years, told us the best time with her family was every Saturday. Every Saturday, her father was is in charge of the kitchen. I was taken aback and asked why was Daddy’s time so special even when Mummy cooks every other day.
In her words “Aunty Uche, mummy’s cooking is to feed the family but when daddy is in the kitchen, the whole family will be there and are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. It is a very enjoyable time for me and my siblings”. I was so touched and I learnt the importance of family time together and how much it impacts on their psycho-social well-being.
You can choose such activities that your own family will enjoy, but please create activities that brings family together. Activities may be competitive too. This allows for observation of an individual’s level of sportsmanship and team spirit.
We are not ignorant of the peculiarities and uniqueness of individual families. You can contact us here to help develop a program that will be specific to handle your family needs by sending us a message.
Share The House Chores
There is an African proverb that says “a goat owned by the community often die of hunger”. Same goes in a situation where there is no delegation of chores and activities in a family.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to see family members work or take responsibilities without prompts. It is important to give each member something to do within the family. Cope with children by sharing chores.
Create Room For Exercises
Staying at home may deny you the daily benefits of an active life – family exercise is the way out. The benefits of exercise can never be overemphasized as it cuts across the physical, emotional, psycho-social and biological health of every individual. It is a time for strengthening the body, soul and spirit.
Family exercise also teaches discipline, reinforces positive behaviors, improves ones esteem, bonding and improves nonverbal and verbal communication among family members.
Reinforce Your Spiritual Life
A family that prays together stays together.
Our ever-busy struggle for survival has denied many families the beauty and benefits of having time together with God. Prayer is the key to opening many doors of physical breakthrough. It transforms our lives, helping us to draw strength that sustains our daily living.
There are many aspects of our spiritual life we can strengthen together as one family. Cope with children by building your spiritual life as a family.
Starting and ending your day as a family with God will beautify your day.
Bible study transforms the mind
Meditation transforms our emotions
Fasting transforms our will
Giving transforms our purpose.
As a Christian writing from personal experience, the above is for the Christian faith. However, no matter the religion you practice, ensure to stay in touch with the higher authority at all times.
Reach Out To The Needy Around You
Take a peek through your window.
There are always people that you can touch their lives. Many families cannot afford a meal in this period. Kindly extend the little you have with them.
Giving has many psychological benefits that are tied to mortality rate and it is also an opportunity to teach our children the act of selflessness.
Giving helps teach children the beauty of sharing.
Mealtime is the perfect time to teach your children skills and manners.
At the table, you can help them learn valuable manners such as complimenting the food, how to avoid unpleasant topics at the table, amongst others.
It is important to emphasize hygiene by insisting they wash hands and keep their faces clean always.
At mealtime, you will have the opportunity to teach children contentment and appreciation.
When families eat together, they can be united in their effort to eat better.
Parents can keep track of what their children eat or drink, and notice harmful behavioral tendencies early enough.
Gathered around the table, family members feel relaxed and they have the time and opportunity to possibly open up on issues that are bothering them and there is this feeling of oneness and love.
Always Check Out For Your Loved Ones
Many of our loved ones are not living with us and we cannot go to visit them during this period. Always keep a tab on them through audio and video calls. Being aware that they are doing well will reduce the stress and tension built during this period.
Teach the children to check on their friends and classmate too, it will teach them how to look out for people that matters in their life.
Talk To Your Children About Childhood Memories
Children love to hear parents reminisce about their childhood experiences and their family members too.
Bring up topics that connect to your most treasured values.
Plus Much More
Watch movies that are inspirational together and allow everyone to tell what they learnt, but do not allow them to spend all their days in front of the screen.
Reduce screen time and increase shared responsibility and activities that have intellectual and psychological benefits.
Just being together has its power and magic. The feeling of being more settled and bonded comes naturally from shared experiences.
Learn to compliment and correct instead of outright condemnation. This will help to minimize faults and expand strengths. It will also remove fear, isolation, friction and quarrels.
No human does well under a hostile environment and self-doubt.
Compliment the small wins.
Encourage the efforts.
Correct mistakes with love.
Cope with children together.
And have a beautiful time together.
Thank you for reading to the end.