Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, work and school have been cancelled or reconfigured for many. Children are home from school and a number of parents are encouraged to work from home as well. While this unprecedented “vacation” may be a welcome development for many, you may also be wondering at this point: how are we going to get through this, having our bored and restless children at home for the foreseeable future?
Parents, take this time to be with your children and enjoy their company. How many times in your life will you get the chance to be with your children like this? As much as they may drive you crazy at times, this is also a wonderful opportunity to create memories with them.
“Memories, you say? We might not even get through this crisis alive!”
Take this time to make your precious memories with your children! As much as anything could still happen (the pandemic may get worse, the numbers may change, etc.) you’d still want to make the most out of these moments, right?
So, let’s do it!
For parents with children aged 0-2, take this time to go to nearby parks or spaces where your very young children (i.e. toddlers) can move. Meet up with other families with kids of the same age for playmates – while still practicing social distancing. We and their yayas could go absolutely bananas if we force our children to stay indoors for the next month or so. We can try reaching out to friends that have a garden or space to move around in. Come up with fun activities for them. Work may take a backseat for now, and the memories you make at this time are fun and precious. If you can work from home, do so. Take breaks playing with your little ones.
Make sure you explain and implement some safety guidelines and rules – soaping of hands for 20 seconds, social distancing, why you’re not allowed to go out as much for the next month, etc. Explain COVID-19 to them, with age-appropriate terms and words like: “the doctors believe its best for us to stay indoors more, or just go to some friends’ homes so we do not get sick.” “The virus is so bad that we need to wash our hands often and stop going to public places like the mall, the kids’ gym or (some other places you frequent).” Explaining the what’s and why’s will increase the chances that our kids will cooperate.
For grade school kids and adolescents, you may want to ask them to write down 5 to 10 things they wish they could do. It is better to ask their preferences and then go over the list with each individual child and let each know which items are doable. Take this opportunity for them to think about and plan out their lives, now that they have the time. This may be more challenging than summer time since their movement is restricted due to the virus. Together, you may walk around your neighborhood and discover activities available for them or activities that they can start doing with neighbors.
Make your own list of acceptable activities as well. Try the ones below and feel free to add your own ideas. Show the kids your list and let them try 5 activities that they already enjoy or may try doing. If they say they are bored, show them the list. Make sure they have options and that they don’t get stuck on their screens. Giving them options and asking for their ideas will help in getting them to cooperate and shows that you acknowledge and respect their decision-making and fledgling independence.
Here’s a suggested list of activities:
a. Acting - charades
b. Aerobic Exercise
g. Bible Study / Reading
k. Computer Games
r. Model Building
t. Movies at home
u. Music (playing an instrument or listening)
w. Poetry composing
x. Reading books, magazines
These can be challenging times, especially having our children cooped up at home with us. So parents, make time to take care of yourself, too. Take 10 to 20 minute time-outs from your kids by listening to music or just closing your eyes. Make sure that papa and mama also have their date day or chat even just by walking around the neighborhood.
Listen to your children’s suggestions and negotiate. Say affirming lines like, ”That’s a good idea,” or “That one is doable, but the other one – we may not be able to do for now. I suggest we do (activity) for now. What do you think?” Avoid dictating. This only leads to a lot of power struggle, arguing, and less cooperation. The kids are probably also as upset as we are about the reduced freedom of movement.
Take time to sit down and chat about the opportunities of this situation. Share with each one, over dinner, the things that you are thankful for. Count your blessings and look on the bright side. We may not have some freedom of movement now but there are still many things to be grateful for, virus notwithstanding.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!
About The Expert
MA. ISABEL SISON DIONISIO, MA, Family, Relationship & Marriage Expert
Maribel, a Relationship and Parenting Consultant for over 25 years has co-authored books, like “Helping our Children do Well in School, Growing up Wired” and “I’ve been Dating…now what?”. She was a contributor and the Parenting Expert of Wyeth’s Nurture Network from 2010 to 2018. Maribel is a regular Parenting Expert for various TV and radio programs, like Radyo Singko’s Relasyon and ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda. Maribel served as a Judge for the Jollibee Family Values Award.
In 2008, she set-up AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples. She worked at the Center for Family Ministries and trained as an Imago Therapist of the Imago Relationships International, New York. Maribel and husband, Allan, are both graduates of the Family Ministry course, Ateneo de Manila. They prepare couples for marriage in the Discovery Weekend and are columnists for the Feast Magazine. They have co-authored two relationship books, Thinking of Marriage and Teen Crush. Allan and Maribel, happily married for 36 years, have 3 children, Rafael, David, and Angelica.
1McIntyre, Niamh, and Nicola Davis. “How Many Will Die of Coronavirus in the UK? A Closer Look at the Numbers.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/13/how-many-will-die-of-coronavirus-….
Recreational Enjoyment inventory by Willard Harley