Talking to your family about coronavirus
This is a confusing and uncertain time for everyone, especially young people. We all want to understand why our lives have suddenly been disrupted. Fortunately, there’s lots of information online to help you with those tricky conversations.
Keeping the kids entertained
This is an unusually long stretch of time to have the kids at home and you may be struggling to come up with new ideas to keep them entertained. You’re not alone! Check out some easy (and low cost) ideas below. Remember, it’s not about the amount of money you spend, but the quality of the time you spend together that makes the difference.
Use stuff you already have around the house
- Build a den or pillow fort.
- Make jewellery using pasta tubes, cereal hoops or jelly rings.
- Make a music shaker out of an old kitchen roll tube – seal one end, fill with dried rice and seal the other end.
- Try paint printing – cut a potato in half and dip it in paint to make a stamp.
- Mark out a road track on the floor using dressing gown ties or masking tape.
- Freeze small toys in ice-cube trays or plastic containers, then tip them out onto a tray and let kids break the ice apart to discover the ‘treasure’ (just make sure they don’t put them in their mouths!)
Challenge their creativity
- Challenge the kids to create their own version of their favourite board game, such as Snakes and Ladders or Monopoly based on your town.
- Try junk modelling using old bottles and other materials – this is a great way to encourage them to use their imagination and talk about the benefits of recycling/reusing too.
- Paint or draw pictures to stick up in the window – a great way to encourage neighbours who pass by too.
- Paint stones, seal with PVA glue and place around your local area for people to see when they’re out walking.
- Make paper aeroplanes and see whose flies the farthest.
- Have a dance or talent show, or get them to host their own version of a chat show like This Morning.
- Create a snow globe-esque happiness shaker – fill a clean jam jar with water, glitter and a tiny bit of PVA glue and secure the lid.
- Make a time capsule.
- Make salt dough (see ‘Useful links’ for simple recipe).
- Write a story. Tear a piece of paper into strips and write different places, characters names and actions on each, then mix them up. Get the kids to pick a few and come up with a story based on them. Go again with a new set!
If you have outside space
- Let the kids ‘paint’ with water on the walls, patio or fence.
- Have a picnic (could be a teddy bears’ picnic for younger children).
- Rearrange the garden furniture to make an obstacle course (this could work indoors too if you don’t mind moving the furniture around!)
- Challenge the kids to create their own Olympic Games and compete for the gold medal, e.g. first to fill a bucket of water, quickest lap around the garden.
- Do a scavenger hunt at home or during your daily walk – make a list of items to find, such as the smallest pebble, longest blade of grass or a colourful petal.
- Collect sticks and other items during your daily walk and use them to build a boat. Then fill a bucket, sink or bath with water to see if your creations float.
- Bury your time capsule in the garden.
- Go on a minibeast hunt – make a list of critters to find, such as a spider, snail, butterfly and worm.
Looking after yourself
In stressful times it can be easy to neglect our own needs, especially as a parent. It’s so important that adults take time for themselves too, doing something fun, relaxing or creative, and looking after our minds and bodies. Here are a few ideas.
Use the time to try something new
You might be faced with a lot of unexpected free time (if you’ve been furloughed, or the rest of your household are able to keep themselves busy) or you might be busier than you’ve ever been before. If you’re feeling up to a new challenge, here are some ideas (but remember, there’s no pressure to fill the time with new projects unless you want to!)
- Try knitting, crocheting or origami – this can be super relaxing too.
- Learn to cook a new recipe – you can look forward to sharing it with friends and family once lockdown is over.
- Watch YouTube tutorial videos – there’s all kinds of stuff, from dancing to customising clothes.
- Learn some phrases in a different language – nobody expects you to come out of lockdown speaking fluent Japanese, but this is a great time to make a start and there are lots of free resources online to help you.
- Practise your photography skills – most smartphones these days have high quality cameras, so see if you can get a great shot when you’re out and about.
- Watch a documentary about something new.
Make self-care a priority
- Find time to relax (maybe after the kids have gone to bed) – sit out in the garden if you have one, have a bath, meditate or pray.
- Try drawing or colouring – there are some great free apps you can use.
- Exercise – go out for a walk, run or cycle, or try a fun dance workout on YouTube.
- Listen to podcasts on something you enjoy.
- Write down how you feel in a diary or journal.
- Keep in touch with friends and family – you could even go old-school and write a letter.
- Practise mindfulness. This is about taking some time away from everything and paying attention to the present moment. Make some notes, including what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, any physical sensations in your body and what’s going on around you. Doing this can help you feel calmer and understand yourself better.
- Don’t stay silent if you’re struggling – Samaritans have a free 24-hour helpline that you can call, or you can email or write to them.
If you're anxious, worried or overwhelmed
It’s normal for you to feel an extra level of anxiety or worry right now. Change and uncertainty can leave us feeling less secure. Here are some ways to cope with those feelings. If your anxiety becomes overwhelming, speak to your GP.
- Talk to someone you trust about what's making you anxious.
- Set aside a specific time to focus on your worries so you can reassure yourself you haven't forgotten to think about them.
- Write down your worries and keep them in a particular place.
- Make a note of what happens when you get anxious or have a panic attack. This could help you spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you, or notice early signs that they are beginning to happen.
- Make a note of what's going well. Living with anxiety can mean you think a lot about things that worry you or are hard to do. It's important to be kind to yourself and notice the good things too.
- Limit how much you watch the news or look at programmes/articles about the pandemic.
- Pray – you can ask God to help you deal with challenges and problems that you face. Ask for him to give you peace. Philippians 4:6-8 says, ‘Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.’
- For some people, the Government advice on hand-washing can cause stress, especially if you already feel anxious about cleanliness. Try planning something to do after you’ve washed your hands to take your mind off it.
- Finally, it’s worth remembering that often, the majority of what we worry about doesn’t actually happen.
What we eat affects how we feel as well as our physical health. By improving your diet, you may be able to improve your mood, have more energy, and think more clearly.
- If possible, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Try to include dairy or dairy alternatives every day.
- Eat beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other forms of protein.
- Have small amounts of oils and spreads and where possible choose unsaturated forms.
- Drink plenty of fluids – guidelines suggest at least six to eight glasses per day. Water is always best, but the good news is that tea counts too!
The Government guidelines say that we should aim to do some form of physical activity once a day. We aren’t all able to go for an early morning jog (if you can, go for it!) but we can still stay active by going for a walk, gardening, dancing at home or simply cleaning the house. Let Captain Tom Moore be your inspiration – in April he walked 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS! Many people find that physical activity also benefits their mental health. Choose an activity you enjoy and that will fit into your daily life.
Getting a good night's sleep
When everyday routines are disrupted, sleep can suffer. Try to keep a sleep routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.
Staying close to God
In uncertain and worrying times, it can help to remember that God has overcome some pretty big things and with him by our side, we can absolutely overcome this crisis. The Bible says, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). Pray – tell him about your concerns and your hopes. Listen to worship music. Find reassuring verses in the Bible. If you’re not a Christian and just want to find out a bit more, why not find an online Alpha course?
Prayer for peace during this time
Lord Jesus, increase our faith that we may believe in you. We ask that we would receive your perfect love that drives out all fear. Please give us hope that you will cause this storm to pass and bring us your peace and comfort. Amen.
Coping with grief and loss
Grief is most commonly associated with bereavement, but there are many types of loss that can trigger the same feelings. This could be the loss of a loved one, a pet, health, a relationship or friendship, or a job. You may even be grieving the loss of freedom and the lifestyle you’re used to in this time. Whatever the reason, there are practical steps you can take to deal with the grief you’re experiencing. Remember, no matter how impossible it may feel right now, you can and will get through this loss.
- Talk to someone you trust and tell them how you feel. You are not a burden – the people who love you will want to listen and support you.
- Talk to your GP or a counsellor if you need to.
- Talk to people who have been through the same thing. You might find it helpful to join a reputable online support group.
- Face your feelings rather than ignoring them – it’s normal to experience anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, sorrow and acceptance when you’re grieving, sometimes all in the space of the same day.
- Express your feelings in a tangible, creative way. Write about your loss in a diary or journal. Write a poem, paint or make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating good memories.
- Look after your physical health. Eat regular healthy meals, get enough sleep and stay active. Don’t use drugs or alcohol – these can mask the problem but they won’t ever resolve it.
- Draw comfort from God. Find a church service online – there are many happening at the moment.
- If you listen to music or watch TV, make sure it’s something that has good memories, comforts your soul and brings you joy.