The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now pretty much anywhere around the world. These are considered extremely daunting times given how quickly the Coronavirus has gone on to become a pandemic.
We as parents surely have a lot of concerns. How quickly the virus spread, the significant disruptions to the daily life of the family members with the school and work closures, a lot of information (and rumors) going around, and figuring out what we need to prepare during these times left us feeling overwhelmed with the situation.
And the scariest thing is, no one knows how bad it could get.
The best way to tackle the fear is to use this as an opportunity to talk about what matters most and how we work together as a family to figure out what to do. Our main focus right now is to do the following things: assess the known information, then plan and take all the action you can base on those facts.
These are a set of guidelines to help you prepare now for the potential widespread disruption of school and work.
Stay Updated and Stay Alert
Be sure to keep yourselves updated with the latest news regarding COVID-19. But be careful, there are a lot of myths, rumors, speculations, and misinformation about coronavirus being shared online. It is very important to know where to look for information and advice.
- You can refer to the CDC for the most up-to-date information about what is going on with coronavirus in the U.S.
- Internationally, visit the WHO page for worldwide updates of the disease.
- UNICEF has also launched a portal where you can find more information and guidance about COVID-19.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics established a new web page where you can find the latest clinical guidance, recommendations, information for parents and other resources.
- It’s also advisable to keep up to date on travel, education and other guidance provided by your local authorities for the latest recommendations and news.
Rumors and speculations about the virus will only add to your stress.
Create a Schedule for Everyone in the House
During these uncertain times, we often lose grip on what to do, especially when everyone has to be home all day. We shouldn’t treat it like a holiday, though. Everyone should continue with their daily tasks and responsibilities even with the situation change.
For the children, set up a schedule including periods of school work, playtime, chores, and daily activities. Don’t forget to let the kids share their ideas when creating routines. That way they are more acceptable to abide by the new schedule. Post this schedule in a prominent place in your home.
For the adults, if you and your partner have to work from home, figure out how to share childcare and housework responsibilities. You should begin proactively to talk about possible solutions and adjust the schedule to accommodate school and work closures.
If you and the kids have more free time, this is also the best time to focus on learning a new skill or hobby.
Stock Up Supplies
The US Department of Homeland Security recommends stocking up enough food and water for two weeks before a pandemic strikes. Here are the main things you should consider to stock up:
- Food staples and nonperishables. Focus on dry and canned goods that are easy to prepare.
- Household cleaners and hygienic products
- Common/daily and prescription medications (30-day supply is advisable)
- If you have small children, stock up diapers, milk, and wipes
Yes, stocking up items to prepare for a lockdown is important, but don’t hoard food and other essential items more than you need. We should thoughtfully purchase supplies and not ‘panic shop’ and unnecessarily purchase items out of fear. Panic buying just contributes to shortages — and more panic.
Let’s make sure others also have food to eat and cleaning supplies to clean themselves with.
Also, please don’t stockpile masks. Health care workers and those caring for sick people need them more than we do. Besides, the best way to protect healthy people against the virus is to wash hands regularly, instead of wearing a mask.
Remember, if others aren’t safe, it will put our family and communities at risk too.
Maintain Good Hygiene
While there is still a lot that we have to learn about COVID-19, we know the fact that it spread when people come in contact with people, surfaces, or air particles from a sneeze or cough carrying the virus. So now is the best time to practice and remind your kids of the importance of maintaining good hygiene.
Basic hygiene rules that need to be applied include:
- Wash hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds frequently.
- We shouldn’t touch our faces, nose, eyes, and mouth with dirty hands.
- Cover mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then dispose of used tissue immediately.
Yes, I shouted “Wash your hands, please!” every 5 minutes to the kids. But if it means my children are clean and it (hopefully) protects their health, then so be it.
On another note, if you have small kids (like me) in the house, you probably realize they put their hands in their mouths no matter what. Frequently washing their face and hands and cleaning surfaces and objects they might touch will help protect them from any infection.
Clean surfaces regularly with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe; this includes counters, table-tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets & toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.
We also need to be psychologically prepared for the possibility that life will be very different for a period of time. Yes, the fear is insurmountable. Coronavirus paranoia, if you’re experiencing some, isn’t silly or unreasonable. It’s part of the totally normal process of coming to grips with a significant problem. After accepting this, it would be easier to come up with possible solutions to tackle your fear.
There are few things you can do to deal with stress and stay calm during the outbreak:
- Use these times to decompress with a book, doing some yoga, do your favorite hobby, or however you prefer to relax.
- Concentrate on yourself and staying calm by exercising deep breathing and meditation.
- Slow down or even cut down your to-do list. Reassign some chores. Add extra time for daily stress relief instead.
- Remember to do self-care.
- Skip the news overload.
- Check-in with support groups that can offer you real comfort.
- Try to think about the positive sides during this self-quarantine period. You can spend more quality family time together, get to stay in jammies all day, or think about how much money you’re saving by not eating out!
Pandemics are scary topics to be discussed, especially with children. We want to make sure that we give information about the coronavirus in a simple way and age-appropriate. When the kids started to get worried about what they have seen on TV, I followed this guide.
- Validate. Let them know it’s okay to worry.
- Normalize. Remind them they are not alone in their worries.
- Teach coping strategies. So that they learn how to navigate their emotions.
- Maintain a sense of safety. They will be safe with us as they handle their big feelings.
So you might say, “I hear that you are worried (validate). These times can be scary for everyone (normalize). Nurses and doctors are working hard right now to ensure that people that get sick be healthy again (teach coping strategies). Right now can we wash our hands together so the virus wouldn’t want to come near us? (maintain a sense of safety)”.
We also need to keep in mind that our kids feed off our emotions. When we get overly scared or worried they will notice it too. So try to keep calm, stay positive and be rational during these times.
Offer Support and Keep on Communicating With Local Communities
Stay in touch with your family and friends, either by phone or video call. On the plus side, regularly communicating with people around you will feed you additional information on what’s happening in your local communities.
Offering up support in any way you can (while still taking precautions for yourself and your family) also goes a long way. These are great examples:
- Mohamed Tarrabin, wrote a post on a local Facebook group in Alta, Canada, offering to help seniors pick up groceries, medicine, or other essentials.
- Toronto resident Amara Possian, wrote a quick note offering help and pointing people towards resources, which she dropped into her neighbors’ mailboxes.
- Fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at St. Anthony’s Home and School in Columbus, Nebraska, made get well soon cards for people affected by the coronavirus.
- After coronavirus canceled their daughter’s bat mitzvah party, a family in New York turned the food into meal deliveries for people in quarantine.
- A fitness instructor in Spain went up to the roof so the people in the apartments around could see him and gave people a free workout session. Lots of people participated at their open windows!
The health crisis demonstrates the importance of helping others looking out for people in need, and the efficacy of small actions can have a big impact to protect others.
Take Care of your health
COVID19 is a disease, meaning you need to maintain your health so your body can handle the virus should you contract it. While at home, make sure you eat right and get rest properly. Now might be a fun time to binge-watch your favorite series and splurge on junk food. But it will better if you and your family eat right and sleep right to keep yourself healthy.
Plan a healthy, well balanced, and energy-boosting meals and snacks for your family. Also, make sure that you and the kids have enough rest.
Follow the authorities
Our local authorities want to keep us safe, so we should follow their advice. If there is a local lockdown in your area, please follow the curfew and other requirements so our authorities can focus on giving us supplies and treating the ones who are sick.
Social distancing, a term that is now advisable by the government, refers to any measures to reduce human contact. So canceling travel plans, big family events, working from home, and stay home can help make the virus outbreak unfold more slowly, which means saving lives.
Taking real steps to mitigate the effects of this outbreak will have on you or your family isn’t a silly thing to do. It’s a responsible one. Stay safe, stay alert, self-quarantine, follow the authorities, and, again, wash your hands.