In quarantine with kids? Here's how you can preserve yourself


Here are a few of our most effective family tips.

By Dina Butti, parenting blogger

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Published: Thu 16 Apr 2020, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Apr 2020, 11:14 AM

How to stay sane while quarantining at home with kids - not exactly a book you can pick up off the shelves, huh? That's why it's up to each of us to create our own 'how to stay sane' manual. Mine combines a bunch of tips I read from psychologists, advice from my own mother and some guidance from my gut instinct.
Like most families, our household consists of a whole host of strong personalities living under one roof, including an emotional four year old and a two year old who's really found his voice through his tantrums. With that said, here are a few of our most effective family tips:

Whilst the days are often repetitive, the mood in our house is not. One day we'll feel like the luckiest people on earth and dance through our chores, the next will leave us feeling like a sack of potatoes that can barely roll off the couch. We try really hard to follow our emotional cues because the reality is that the ups and downs are inevitable.
When we've got a good day, we whip out a 'to do list' of things to accomplish while motivated. So far, we've done a massive spring cleaning, created an art space and made our own games. On days when we're less upbeat, we do our best to get through our daily schedules and are more generous with TV time. After all, optimism isn't about being perky 24/7, it's about having faith that the next day will be better. It usually is.
We are certainly not the most organized bunch, but creating a schedule has turned out to be the only way we can ensure that we each get our own time to focus on work, complete the boys' home schooling, get some alone time and squeeze in a workout. Splitting these shifts means it's a bit more intense when we've got both boys on our hands, but it also means that my husband and I don't see each other for chunks of the day and look forward to our time together at night.
Don't forget to include any household help you have in this schedule to ensure they also get downtime midday and, if possible, some physical activity. Our nanny has surprised us with her killer workouts!

Homeschooling can often feel like a punishment for parents and it's not made easier by having kids with the world's shortest attention spans. A few things that have worked for us is having a less distracting designated study space, breaking up lessons with breaks every 20 minutes, healthy snacks for when energy dips, and getting creative with rewards for lessons well done. Also for parents with younger kids, a friendly reminder that stickers can do wonders!
On days neither of us can focus, however, we change up the lessons by learning to do something new at home. My four year old just learned to do the dishes, put batteries in his own toys and did his first voiceover, while my two year old is actually pretty good at vacuuming, puzzles and cleaning up his messes with wipes.

Sometimes it can feel impossible to avoid the gut wrenching stories and fear inducing articles, but whilst it's important to remain informed, it's just as important to preserve our mental wellbeing. I'm easily affected by the news and always remind myself how much of our moods and conversations the kids actually pick up on.
Putting on upbeat music instantly changes the energy in our home. We're adamant on only consuming content thats positive - those classic family comedies on Netflix are golden. And as most people are already doing, connecting with loved ones is essential. We're especially fans of our virtual playdates and Zoom movie nights with friends.

If there's one skill we need to master during this time, it's forgiveness. There are going to be mood swings, bad days and even rougher nights. Let's face it, anxiety brings out the worst in everyone! But there's also the little things. It's okay not to be productive every day - it's surviving all of this and coming out sane that's key. Sure it's ideal to workout and eat well, but try not to let a couple extra kilos get you down as long as you're feeling healthy. And lastly, I constantly have to remind myself the kids are quarantined too. Sometimes I have to bite my lip not to yell every five seconds and despite my patience tank running on zero, I'm trying to give even more cuddles and loving than ever before.

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