Reset the family over the holidays after months of COVID chaos
The world has changed over the past three months. It has brought huge challenges for both children and families and like adults, kids have coped in different ways. Some have found the changes stressful while others are oblivious to the impact COVID-19 has had on society.
The pandemic has challenged us all with juggling homeschooling, work and the general household as well as missing friends and loved ones. But it has also helped with reconnecting with one another, being around our kids more and we have a new appreciation of our child’s teachers.
Clinical psychologist Anissa Mouti said on top of changes to daily routines and the challenges of home learning, there have been other new norms for kids to process.
New rules have become part of the everyday routine including “social distancing”, “handwashing” and “temperature checks”. This is the new normal!
These rules are here to stay so we need to get use to them and help kids understand that they need to take them seriously, particularly given the recent spike in Victoria.
These winter school holidays are the perfect time to take a breath from the last few months and come out on the other side stronger.
We have adjusted to the changes, now let’s use these holidays as a time to reflect and slowly get back to “normal routine” with continued caution.
Keep doing things that you would have done prior to the pandemic. For example, keep a basic routine and with flexibility. Schedule in some activities and down days. Be realistic and don’t overdo it. Re-book events that you would have in the past if they are open. Keep up with seeing family members and friends whether it is via Zoom, Facetime, or in person. Take kids out every now and then so that they are getting used to getting out of the house. Do it in steps … we call this the stepladder approach. That is, start small and work up the ladder so they get comfortable again.
When preparing for term 3, we should continue with getting used to the new normal. Keep up with washing hands, using hand sanitiser, coughing into your arm, social distancing rules, staying home if you have a runny nose and possibly getting tested. Keep your kids informed of what’s going on but don’t overload them with information. Answer their questions using age-appropriate language.
Acknowledge and normalise their feelings. Tell them “yes it sucks that ….. isn’t on these school holidays”. We want them to know that they are not the only ones thinking that way. Encourage a positive future outlook such as “we will get through this”.
Kids are resilient. They have managed a whole term of uncertainty with online learning and then a quick transition back to school. Let’s use this time to embrace their achievements. And give yourself credit for getting through the term.
Tips for school holidays post COVID-19
- Keep a basic routine and with flexibility.
- Schedule in some activities and down days.
- Be realistic and don’t overdo it.
- Be consistent where you can, particularly with rules around mealtimes, screens and bedtime.
- Holiday activities
- Get the kids to help you plan some activities that they want to do over the holidays.
- Look into holiday activities as some events are coming back, or now that we are a “tech-savvy” society, look for those online social events for kids.
- Enjoy the outdoors
- Make sure the kids are getting their dose of vitamin D! With social distancing of course.
- Join screen time
- Minecraft, Roblox are common household terms. If your kids are playing these games, you are better off joining them. This builds social skills, relationships and it is easier to monitor and control their screen time.
- Get used to the new normal
- Keep practicing social distancing, temperature checks and hand hygiene as they are here to stay.
- Family “power” hour
- Try and set up one family night once a week, even if it is for an hour on a Friday night and spend some time together. This could be a game, a movie or Lego.
- Community Spirit
- Encourage a sense of helping the community and support local businesses given that overseas holidays are off the list.
- Check-in with your neighbours with your kids
- Awareness of what is going on
- Keep news to a need to basis and don’t talk too much about it.
- Answer questions as they come up in a matter of fact age-appropriate way
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings, don’t dismiss them.
- Talk about things you are looking forward to.
- Seek support
- You don’t have to entertain the kids the whole time.
- You don’t have to do everything!!!
- But if it is all too much for you, remember:
- It is ok if you need some space for yourself.
- It is ok to ask for help. Whether it is from a neighbour, family member or even professional help, there is someone there for you!
Anissa Mouti is a Clinical Psychologist at Total Health Care, Bondi Junction (Total Health Care is a multidisciplinary practice of psychologists, psychiatrists, paediatricians and social workers working with children, adolescents, families and adults)