Tips for caregivers during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order
Written by: Jenn Vanetten
As a parent or caregiver during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Washington State mandate, you may be confronting new challenges at home. You may be helping your child learn their math lessons, keeping them entertained with creative activities and helping them cope with the sudden changes in routine. Luckily, educators and professionals around the U.S. have been sharing free tools, activities and information to help!
Here are a few situations that you may relate to and some tips and resources.
Situation 1: Helping Children Understand and Rest
Arianna’s 5th birthday is next week. You began planning her birthday party before the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. She was excited about having her friends and family invited over for a party that included a bouncy house in the front yard. These plans have now been canceled and Arianna cries every day because she won’t have her party or get to see her friends and family.
How do you help your child understand and overcome difficult feelings during this time?
Make sure you recognize and validate any negative feelings about the situation. Let your child know that it is okay to be sad. Then, focus on the positives. For example, you get to spend more time as a family. Try to make more time for fun at home. If it’s fun for your child, it is probably going to be more fun for you!
Check out these resources for tips on talking to your child about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and help them cope with changes:
• National Association of School Psychologists on helping kids cope with changes
• National Public Radio on using comics with older children
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on stress and coping
• Child Mind Institute on talking to kids
Situation 2: Setting a Schedule & Helping Children Learn
Jasmine and Juan both work outside the home, but now they both are working from home. They have three children, Arial (age 3), Brandon (age 5) and Adrian (age 10). Arial usually attends childcare, Brandon normally attends preschool and Adrian is in elementary school. Adrian’s classes are now online, while Brandon and Arial are not engaged in school.
How do you and your partner balance two working schedules, monitor online classes and help all children stay engaged during the day?
Structure is key. A written daily schedule will provide your children with a sense of comfort and control and will allow you and your partner to “split shifts” (and get some work done). Some families may want to create their schedules day-by-day while others may prefer to stick to one daily routine. Which is the right way? Do what works best for you and your family! Just remember to be flexible and to collaborate with your kids during this process—even if it means scheduling an hour for “kids’ choice.”
Check out these links for more tips on creating a daily schedule with your family:
• How long should learning lessons be for children in different grades
• 8 tips on working at home with children
Situation 3: Keeping Children Entertained and Active
As a single parent, you stay at home with your 4-year old daughter and 7-year old son. After several weeks of staying at home, they have played every game in the house at least 20 times and have become tired of their toys. The easiest solution for keeping them busy is television and electronic devices, but you feel guilty about that
How do you keep your children engaged and active?
Try to make time for a fun family activity at least once a day! It is most important to ask your children what they want to do. Encourage them to be creative with their ideas. This can be a great opportunity to help them expand their creative minds. The internet can also be a great tool for finding new activities:
• Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a really cool website for access to age-appropriate activities for learning about science, math, arts, literacy, character, social skills and emotions
• PBS will e-mail you daily suggestions for games and activities for free
• The Seattle Times has ideas for easy activities with materials that are probably already in your house
• Imagine has a YouTube page with art, science, music and math activities along with guest author and artist videos. Subscribe to be alerted to new posts.
Check out these resources if you want more information about the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and how to keep you and your family healthy:
• CDC resources and guidelines
• Public Health recommendations
• Washington State Department of Health resources and recommendations for parents and caretakers