Parenting and supporting your family during the coronavirus crisis

As the coronavirus crisis has escalated over the past months, everyday life has changed for millions of people across the country and around the world. As parents cope with reduced work hours, the loss of their job, or are asked to work from home with child care centers shut down, families are facing some significant changes.

Here are some guidelines on how you can best care for and support your family during this challenging time:

Keep a routine
Developing a sense of normalcy can do a lot to lesson the stress that these uncertain times can cause. Routines can help children feel safe and secure. Create a daily schedule with your family setting aside time for parents to work, children to learn and time to play together or relax. Be sure to reserve time to connect with one another, as supporting each other is important in difficult times. Schedule times for naps and make sure you’re keeping a regular sleep schedule so that everyone is well-rested.

Get creative with your time
Being isolated at home helps decrease and slow the spread of COVID-19. But being at home all day can also be, well, boring. For kids used to playdates, birthday parties and all other kinds of activities, it can be especially frustrating. But your family can still have fun! Let your kids use some of that unlimited energy to build a fort, learn arts and crafts, play pretend, exercise or whatever their imaginative minds think up. If they miss their friends or relatives, help them write and mail a letter or help them use Skype or FaceTime so they don’t feel as isolated.

Screen time
While balancing screen time is important, children will likely be spending more time watching TV or on tablets when parents have so much on their plates. Try to guide your children toward content appropriate for their age and development. Common Sense Media has plenty of recommendations for fun, child-centered content.

Learning at home
Many preschools, daycare and childcare centers across the country have been shut down indefinitely. For parents working from home, the additional and important task of their child’s learning and development can add a lot of stress. But there are lots of resources providing lesson plans for learning at home. Check out our weekly lesson plans from Head Start/Early Head Start that include daily schedules and lots of fun activities! Also, don’t forget to read aloud with your young child! Reading aloud with them is essential for healthy brain development and a great way to spend time together.

Taking care of yourself
The current situation is uncertain, but it’s important that parents lead the way in reducing stress. Make sure you make time for yourself. Your mental and physical health is still very important in addition to all the extra energy you might be putting into parenting right now. If you have a schedule for your family, put in a block of time where you can exercise, pursue a hobby or just take a nice, long nap.

Click here for up-to-date information from the CDC about COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe and healthy.

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care.  Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article.  You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance.  Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.