The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed life as we know it. This is true for children as much as parents. If your younger family members are struggling with the ongoing crisis, here are some tips to help guide them toward school-life balance.
A Unique Crisis
Before diving into specific recommendations, it’s important to point out the unique severity of the current crisis — particularly in the eyes of children. 2020 was marked by quarantines, social distancing, economic struggles, political turmoil, and financial crises.
As jobs were lost, stimulus checks were held up, and COVID-19 repeatedly surged around the globe, these issues often overlapped. Families dealt with the combination of losing loved ones and covering the consequential financial issues, all while trapped on the home-front.
These issues created a toxic environment for many households as parents scrambled to manage the ongoing damage. However, as they did so, one demographic was quickly pushed to the back burner: children.
As they watched from a distance, boys and girls everywhere were emotionally, physically, and mentally impacted by the catastrophe. They picked up on parental stress and often processed emotional struggles on their own. Trying to navigate the nuances of remote learning from home only added fuel to the fire.
The point of all of this is that, if you’re a parent, you can bet your child has been impacted by the last year. You can be assured that they’ll continue to be impacted going forward, as well. This is why it’s worth making an effort to safeguard their own emotions, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance with school and life on the homefront.
Helping Kids Cope with School and Life in a Pandemic
To help, here are six effective ways to help restore a sense of balance, peace, and purpose to your children’s lives.
1. Create Routines
Children crave structure. It’s in their DNA. If they’re forced to exist within the four walls of your home at all times, it’s easy to lose that sense of structure over time.
One of the best ways to combat this tendency toward apathy and disorder is to maintain family routines. As soon as your children wake up, these routines should begin, staring with activities such as:
- Making the bed.
- Getting dressed.
- Brushing their teeth.
- Eating breakfast.
From there, start school at a consistent time. Eat meals at predictable times as well. The more reasonable structure you can introduce into your family life, the more likely your kids will be able to thrive.
2. Set Boundaries
Boundaries are often naturally created by things like going to school and playing with friends. When you can never leave home, it’s easy to lose this sense of definition.
Much like routines, setting up artificial boundaries within your home is a great way to restore a sense of purpose for your children. Dedicate spaces specifically for school and play, especially if you’re also going back to school online while working. Schedule in school and homework hours and then encourage your children to disconnect when they aren’t “on the clock.” Also establish electronic and media-free bedrooms.
However you choose to do it, setting boundaries is another important aspect of maintaining that critical sense of structure, even during a quarantine.
3. Limit Screen Time
Screen time is another boundary consideration that is so important, it gets its own spot on the list. Between online school, extracurricular activities, communication with friends, and endless hours of boredom filled with television and games, it’s easy for kids to develop a tech hangover after a while.
Setting screen time limits is a good way to counteract this issue. It allows kids to still use their tech while also ensuring that they don’t spend too much time on their devices.
4. Provide Creative Activities
Limiting screen time and creating structure are both important. However, if you’re going to encourage less electronic usage in your home, it’s also a good idea to provide alternative options.
This can consist of anything non-tech-related. Painting, crafting, playing board games, and even simply talking should all be encouraged.
5. Help Them Exercise
Exercise is another critical factor to keep in the cards. Exercise is well known for its ability to pump up endorphins and help combat stress. When done outside, it also provides access to sunlight and fresh air.
Exercise is a healthy activity that cultivates both mental and physical health. It also forces your child to disconnect from the screens and enjoy their current environment for the moment.
6. Unplug as a Family
Finally, remember to take time to unplug as a family unit from time to time. Limiting screen time is a great way to individually find balance, but nothing beats spending uninterrupted time together as a family.
Schedule time at some point, such as after dinner, to get out a board game, build a fort, play hide and seek, or even simply talk together. This won’t just help your kids find balance, it will also keep your family lines of communication open and healthy.
Don’t Leave Your Children Behind
Kids may not be on the front lines of the pandemic, but they are impacted by it nevertheless.
Make sure that your kids are able to manage the stresses and strains, particularly when it comes to school-life balance. Use the above tips and suggestions to arm them with the coping tools that they need to maintain a sense of peace, purpose, and positivity, even in the midst of the ongoing storm.