PARSIPPANY — We are all adjusting to the new reality of COVID, and with most public places now closed, families are at home (or should be) around the clock.
Lots of parents are working from home and helping their kids adjust to distance learning. Other parents are out of work and have the added worry of lost wages. And of course, some parents are on the front lines, working to protect the community, care for the sick, and make sure food and other critical supplies are available.
No question, the uncertainties that come with the global pandemic are a lot to deal with. We all need to tap our resiliency, and develop plans not only to keep our families safe, but to promote calmness.
NewBridge Chief Operating Officer Michelle Borden, a licensed clinical social worker, and disaster response crisis counselor, offers this advice:
- When you start to have anxious thoughts, take a few long, deep belly breaths, letting your shoulders relax as you exhale. Even just a few minutes of this is calming. Encourage your children to do the same.
- Reassure your children that you are looking out for their health, and taking precautions to keep the family healthy. Talk to them about the brave medical and emergency response workers, and how leaders are taking steps to protect people.
- Answer their questions about the virus, providing age-appropriate explanations. The CDC provides guidance
- Set a daily routine for each child and the family as a whole. In addition to schoolwork requirements and chores, incorporate creative time, exercise, healthy meals and relaxation into the plan. Reward yourselves with a game nights and movie nights. (Take turns choosing!)
- School-age children will require varying amounts of help with distance learning, so encourage independence but monitor their progress.
- Get outside when possible. Take a walk around the block or go for a hike in the woods (but stay at least six feet away from other people), or play together in your yard, if that’s an option.
- Check social media pages for parents and your library’s website for links to lots of cool virtual experiences, like virtual tours of museums and zoos.
The whole family should keep a regular sleep schedule.
Children look to their parents for how to respond to situations. If parents remain calm and the family sticks to a healthy routine, this time will be much easier to get through. If you are in crisis, call NewBridge at (973) 316-9333. Look for more tips in the coming days. Together, we will get through this!