Coping When Cooped Up With Kids

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Juggling trying to keep work going, worrying about financial issues or elderly/ vulnerable parents, AND trying to keep your kids busy and in good spirits? Plus homeschool them at the same time?

With the current coronavirus lockdown, parents are facing real challenges. How to cope?

1. Lower your expectations.

However you used to parent ‘before’ might not work in these very different circumstances. Don’t feel bad about your kids missing out on their activities, having a bit more screen time, or less of your attention when you are struggling to get work done at home or are a keyworker under pressure. It is not your fault and you cannot change it.

Put simply, you don’t have to be Mary Poppins. Just trying to manage is a good enough target right now.

2. Avoid comparisons with other parents.

Don’t benchmark yourself against all those ‘perfect parenting’ posts on social media showing glorious arts and crafts activities, and kids all looking deliriously happy and like they never squabble. They’re just a snapshot and might not reflect reality, plus every family’s circumstances are different at the moment.

3. Find new routines.

Our normal daily routines have been thrown into disarray. But children of all ages do find some sort of schedule comforting.

Look at how you could create new routines, whether it’s having that daily exercise at a particular time each morning, Skyping the grandparents in the evening during dinner, or setting up a timetable for their learning activities.

4. Create an ‘I’m bored’ activity list.

Brainstorm ideas for activities, including both online and off. Look for a mix of ones that are for you to do together as a family, and those your kids can tackle more independently.

If they’re too young to read but old enough to understand, print some photos of the activities.Take the list and stick it on the fridge. Next time you or the kids are getting bored have a look for ideas.

5. Try to offload elsewhere.

We’re all having tough moments. But ideally, keep calm and reasonably positive around your children.

If you’re worried or overwhelmed seek outlets other than your kids wherever possible. Is there a friend or relative you can call or message when things get too much?

6. Take time outs.

We’re all familiar with the idea of time outs as a way to manage young children’s behaviour.

But timeouts work for adults, too. They can be a useful way of defusing emotions when it’s getting too much, or we’re bickering with each other.

As long as your children are safe, take some time out to calm down in another room, stand outside the back door for some fresh air and a few minutes alone, or even go and sit in the car for a little while with some relaxing music on.

7. Try to find some fun every day.

A crazy kitchen disco where everyone picks their favourite tunes, watching silly comedies, playing daft games....whatever appeals, we need a bit of heart-warming fun more than ever to lift our moods.

Did you know that you can book online therapy for your child, or that you can do family therapy over the internet? And parenting issues are a common reason to seek individual counselling. Book an online talk therapist now.


Liat Hughes Joshi is a London-based journalist, author and commentator. She has written five parenting books including “How to Unplug Your Child” (Summersdale). Find her at @liathughesjoshi on Twitter and Instagram.

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