Hello dear readers,
As my son and I go into self isolation due to my son’s medical risk, I thought it might be useful to share with others my ideas on how to cope with it. As a widow and a home worker I am used to spending long periods on my own, so am maybe more well equipped than others to cope, and some of these strategies have been key to me surviving the dark times after my husband’s death. Keeping the kids amused in different ways rather than just the telly should help maintain a happy (isolated) household (although TV is still definitely essential!)
This is so important, because as parents we put our kids needs before our own, but if we burn out we will be no good to anyone. Make sure you have some space & time to yourself each day doing something that helps you to unwind, switch off or escape. Having a relaxing bath, doing some meditation, getting lots of sleep, reading a good book, and maybe putting ear plugs in to block out everything else for a few minutes will go a long way in keeping you sane. Dads may want to escape to their ‘man cave’ or shed perhaps for a bit of time out.
Books, magazines & comics.
You can access your library online and download e-books, e-magazines, e-comics and digital audiobooks onto phones and tablets. E-books can also be downloaded from Amazon onto Kindles. Download digital audiobooks onto your phone or an old handset and kids will happily listen with headphones giving you precious peace and quiet!
Films & TV
Why not have a movie night? Dig out an old favourite DVD, stream or download one from the internet or order for delivery online. Get out the popcorn out and cuddle up – bliss! You could even host a watch party with Netflix or do your own by choosing to watch a film simultaneously with someone else you know. Parents can look forward to an evening treat of a boxset binge after the kids are in bed.
Board games and card games area great way to bring the family together for a bit of fun. There are also some online table games you can play with friends. Video games with online multi-player options are great for older kids so they can still play with their friends. Sticking to a screen time limit is good and this may be helped by pre-arranging a ‘digital playtime’ with their friends, which you may need to help with unless they have their own phones.
Combating boredom while being stuck inside for long periods of time will help reduce tensions. We use a family time jar with different activities in to be picked out a random when the dreaded words ‘I’m bored’ get uttered. There are so many things you could put in here from treasure hunts, hide and seek, colouring, jigsaws and crafting. Setting aside a regular time slot for playing with your kids, perhaps when you would usually home after work, will help give a structure to the days. There are more ideas here.
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Phone or video calling friends and family regularly and not relying on just social media will help us feel connected to the real world. Kids might want to chat to friends too or maybe email each other like pen-pals. If you live close enough to your neighbours to see their windows your kids could create a game involving poster messages or similar putting their inventiveness to the test. For people’s birthdays you could make cards together and photo, scan or post them (in a remote post box) or even sing a song and video it to send to them instead.
If you have a garden, getting outside as much as you can will help boost vitamin D levels and prevent cabin fever. If the weather is good try a lawn picnic, camping, den building or an assault course. Get the kids involved with planting spring bulbs and watching them grow will give you joy during the hard times in the coming months. A walk in a remote or un-busy place should be fairly safe too, if you keep your distance from other people or go out at night. A drive just to escape the house could also help and cycling and jogging would be low risk too if you avoid contact. Take the time to appreciate the peace and quiet on our streets, less pollution and listen to the birds sing. Remember to get everyone to wash hands their hands when they are back inside though as the virus can stay on hard surfaces for some time.
Why not take a virtual tour of a museum from the safety of self isolation? 12 famous museums have virtual tours including the British Museum, the Guggenheim and Musee D’Orsay and they are free too!
Getting regular exercise will really help you not only stay well and fight off any infection, but keep your spirits up due to the endorphins released. Yoga can be particularly beneficial as it is also calming. I highly recommend Yoga with Adrienne which is available free to watch on YouTube. Here are some other online suggestions. Keep the kids active too to burn off all the pent up energy from being stuck inside with ‘PE with Joe’ on YouTube.
Food & drink
Frozen and tinned fruit and veg will provide you with you with much needed nutrients if you can’t get out to stock up on fresh food. Eating healthily and avoiding too much alcohol will keep your immune system strong, but a glass or two of wine at the weekend could be a good way to mark time and have something to look forward to. Why not try baking bread or cakes with the kids too? If you have to go out for supplies try to use small local businesses as many of these will struggle to stay afloat and there will most likely be less people in them than the big supermarkets, but use masks and gloves where possible and wash or sanitize hands as soon as you get home.
If you end up doing everything for everyone resentment and tension will soon build up, so it might be an idea to divide up the chores and work as a family team. Kids learn good life skills and responsibility too from doing chores, so get them involved with clearing away meals, cooking, laundry and looking after pets.
This is an emergency situation, so although it’s tempting try not to bury your head in work. It will be important for kids to know that you are there for them and you will get through it together. They will need to be able to spend time with you so they can express their worries and feel reassured. It’s a good opportunity to slow down, rethink your priorities and consider your work/life balance. Setting specific times to work, in a separate room if possible, will let kids know when they can have family time and when to leave you alone.
Schools may well at some point set up online classrooms or homework, but there are also other ways to keep them learning. Some schools have subscriptions to apps like Times Table Rockstars and Reading Eggs and there are many maths websites, free scholastic and Twinkl learning resources and educational TV programmes like Horrible Histories and Number Jacks. Why not also engage in some other skills by teaching or learning together things like knitting or cooking? You can also download language and learning apps like Duolingo onto phones or laptops. You could also learn something yourself through an online short course with FutureLearn.
There are always jobs that we never get round to as we are so busy, so why not take the opportunity and tidy that cupboard, sort out that paperwork or write that email to an old friend. It will give you a sense of much needed purpose & achievement as well as being able to tick something off that never-ending ‘to do’ list.
If any of you are ill then quarantine should be set up in a isolated room and the patient should use a separate bathroom and towels if possible. Keep well people out of the room and wash hands for 20 seconds whenever you have been in it to prevent spreading the virus. Use a mask, apron and gloves if you have them and get the patient to ‘catch it kill it bin it’ with coughs and sneezes. Use separate crockery and cutlery, keep their fluids up and use paracetamol rather than ibuprofen based medicated to bring down the fever. Once they are well and after 7 days they can come out of quarantine and you will need to do a deep clean. Wash bed linen with laundry cleanser or at a high temperature and wipe sides down with a sanitising spray or wipes containing 60% alcohol.
Helping each other by supporting those in our communities will be how we get through this – together. Set up a Facebook or WhatsApp group for your street so people can check on elderly, vulnerable or isolated neighbours, leave provisions outside their door or just be there for a chat on the phone. Be grateful and thankful to those on the front line and doing the jobs that keep the country going, such as bin men and posties etc. Donate to homeless charities and food banks, as the most vulnerable people in our societies will be the ones most affected.
Having been through bereavement, I know this is the most important thing of all. Talk to each other and listen to your kids. Get them to write or draw about their worries. Keep the news away from them as much as you can and switch off yourself from it too when it gets too much. If someone you know gets ill or dies, be honest about it and try not to panic. There are professional services out there with free support too. Draw pictures or write letters and photograph and email or WhatsApp them to sick friends and relatives. Give yourself to time and space to grieve, even if you don’t lose loved ones, as we will all be surrounded by death and be traumatised by it to some extent. It’s normal to feel angry, sad and scared. Express those feelings in a safe way while also trying to remember good things. Be silly, listen to your favourite music and have a dance with your kids. Make the most of your time together as none of us know when it could be cut short.
I hope these help you all over the this difficult time. Please pass on any other ideas as I would love to hear them.
Stay well everyone.