Try creating a schedule and encourage your family to use it, to get the most out of every day. You could make a family plan and stick it on the fridge, or make use of an online version such as nirandfar.com/schedule-maker . There are various suggestions available on social media.
“I find it’s really helpful to get everyone up at the same time every day! It’s later than our ‘school normal’, but it helps us get started on schoolwork and stay on track.” – L
“We’re keeping our bedtime routine as normal, and trying to get out for exercise every day. Today we went to a postbox on scooters, and posted a letter to a friend – it was good motivation for them to do some writing too!” – J
As well as the lessons your child’s school is providing, you can investigate home schooling sites with live online lessons, such as outschool.com/ or ProdigyGame.com . They have various access levels for free and for subscriptions. Using technology to create rather than to passively consume can encourage creativity and problem solving, but a balanced mix of tech and non-tech activities is best.1
Anya Kamenetz, author of “The Art of Screen Time” and mother of two, recommends staying active at home by using www.gonoodle.com , which provides free at-home exercise programmes for children.2 Ideally, teens should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day: walking the dog, dancing, gardening—as long as they’re moving, it’s beneficial.3
Some well-known TV personalities are releasing regular exercise programmes as well such as this one.
“I’m trying hard to take the view that it’s good to keep going with the basics, BUT I’m not his teacher, he’s only little, this is a weird situation. We do what we can, and try to make some happy memories too.” – K
It’s a difficult time to be a teenager. Check online for advice about supporting your teenagers through their particular challenges of exam cancellations and lack of social contact while in family isolation. Childmind.org have written a particularly helpful article, here.
If you have younger children, stagger their bedtimes even more so you get to talk 1-2-1 at least once a day. Give your teenagers space to express their frustration and disappointment, and express your confidence in them to overcome all the challenges life is throwing at them this year.
Encourage them to keep up with the work they have been given by their school, to keep to a realistic study timetable to get through the work they’ve got with breaks to relax and reward themselves.
Suggest they use their extra time to think ahead and make plans for the future. Could they research a college course, apprenticeship or career to set themselves some new goals? Give them a project at home – plan and research redecorating their bedroom, clearing out the loft or reorganising the kitchen cupboards. Consider giving them more responsibility now they have less school work – if they’ve never done it before, ask them to plan and cook a family meal.
Care for the Family usually offer our DVD-based parenting course Parentalk as a free download to those who want to lead a course in their community. Through this time you can register to download the course for individual use. Perhaps you could ask a couple of other parents of teenagers you know to register, download and watch the content, and then discuss it over a video chat together?
Continue to help your whole family approach the situation in a positive way.
Over your family mealtime, or at the end of every day, encourage everyone to say something they are thankful for. Keep a list on a large piece of paper blu-tacked to the door (or written in marker pen onto a mirror) and insist they say something new every day – you might start with the obvious but soon you’ll have to think a bit deeper!
Maybe the children could colour pictures or write hopeful messages to put into cards and post to friends and family, or through the doors of local neighbours.
Encourage your children to talks about their dreams for the future in a hopeful way, rather than focusing on their immediate worries and imminent cancellations. Maybe you could plan a street party to celebrate when this is all over (even if you can’t set a date just yet!).
“I have started a diary of significant achievements as a weekly list of what we’ve got done – I was blown away when I did this the first week! I let my kids see me journal and practice self-care to encourage them to do the same and we also talk openly about how we are all feeling.” – S
Written for the Single Parent Support newsletter sent by Care for the Family during the COVID-19 crisis, March 2020.
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