This has been a wild few weeks navigating everything that is happening on a global scale. Routines have shifted, we are spending more time together at home, and for those with children of any age know this might be a little more challenging to keep a "normal" routine.
Anxiety and emotions are higher right now, we get that. Thankfully, there are ways to to decrease stress or anxiety while you are socially distancing at home and especially if you have children.
Children Ages 5-11:
At this age, children make very few choices on their own. With the sudden changes in routines, not being able to see friends or go to school, staying inside for extended hours, boredom, lack of adequate exercise, etc, can increase anxiety for almost anyone.
Create Easy Choices -
Asking your child, roommate, or partner an easy question like “What do you want for lunch? ” may be overwhelming right now. Instead, give them 2 options you know they would like that you have available. Be clear and concise, so there is little debate or a potential heated discussion. It's important they feel like they are making the decision and it will work for many parts of the day.
Create a Routine -
Be realistic with everyone's expectations and take the time to create a schedule and plan ahead. If you're dealing with a child at home during work hours, they will need a schedule, breaks, and reminders. Plan 3 or 4 realistic activities with them that you know they like and tell them early in the morning to set out the day ahead. Set out all materials needed before you start your day of work. Use alarms to keep everyone on track throughout the day. It's ok to set alarms for multiple people in the family to create a sense of normalcy.
Stay Positive -
Anyone during this stressful time, especially kids this age, love to receive praise or recognition. A positive mindset will help you focus on the good and not dwell on all the negativity that can increase anxiety. Time to be overly vocal and appreciate all the little things! Always take time to validate someone's feelings and acknowledge everyone will have ups and downs.
Teens Ages 12-18:
At this age, lack of their own freedom and social distancing might be very hard on them, or hard for any extroverts.
Let Them Be The Master -
There are things they can control during this strange time, remember that. Although you have rules within the household, let your teen, partner, spouse, or roommate make more of their own decisions than you normally would. Be clear about your expectations (what chores must be done, screen time rules, school or work time) but give them as much choice as possible about how to complete their responsibilities. Let your children, or anyone you're living with, know you trust them but then hold them accountable by verifying they completed their tasks. For the younger teens, this is a great time to teach that what they do effects the people around them and even teach something new!
FaceTime or Speak with Friends + Family -
Set up FaceTime “Dates” with co-workers, friends, and relatives. Teens are very individualized and their brains are at a stage of development where they do not naturally think about others’ needs. Show them we are all in this together and our collective sacrifice of social distancing can make a positive impact globally, stay social and connected to each other using technology during this time.
Social media can actually be a great tool in moderation during this time. People are coming together to connect, work out, learn and create, and help everyone stay connected to the world at large. Learn ways to help those in need; dropping off meals, writing letters to others, going on walks or bike rides with your family, tag us in your at home #sweatyselfie, etc.
With some extra time at home, focus on self care to Change Your Life. This can be anything as simple as taking a bath, lighting candles, using a face mask, painting your nails, reading a book, organizing and cleaning your space, or whatever it is that reduces stress levels. Make sure to fuel your body with nutrient rich food, hydrate, and catch up on sleep to enrich your body and mind to improve your overall health.