If keeping your kids entertained seemed tough over a weekend, you’re probably in a full-blown panic right now at the prospect of the chaos that could ensue over the next 21 days. Fear not. There’s a pretty simple way to carve out some order. Put a routine in place, for your sanity (obviously) and to provide your kids with some reassuring structure. Most importantly, stick to it. Here are a few top tips to help you take control.
Work out a daily activity schedule
Kids thrive on routine. We know this. But they need you to help them stick to it. Have a family meeting and get everyone involved in coming up with a daily routine. Draw up a schedule to help you navigate each day. Break it down day by day, hour by hour. If the task seems overwhelming, make a plan for Week 1 first, then adjust it slightly for Week 2 (using lessons you’ve learned from Week 1) and so on. If you like, turn the brainstorming session into a morning’s activity: get the kids to write, draw, colour in, add glitter. Consider coming up with a theme for a day, and structuring activities in line with the topic, for example: water, the colour green, things that start with the letter ‘S’.
Keep it varied
Certain aspects of your routine should be regular, like a fixed time to get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast, lunch, a bath and dinner. But for the rest there should be variety. Maybe Monday is Monopoly night, on Tuesday you read out loud from a favourite book, Wednesday you allocate an X-Box or PSP marathon session, Thursday you bake together and on Friday you plan and execute a treasure hunt. When it comes time to tackle the schoolwork that needs to be completed by 16 April, get involved and maintain morale. Remember you’re not home schooling, this is crisis management. Make sure they tackle the work in manageable chunks, and be lenient. Change the homework ‘venue’ to a shady spot in the garden, let them watch a YouTube tutorial, introduce an ice cream break (reward for good behaviour, obviously).
Be firm but flexible
A routine won’t work if you don’t enforce it. Be kind but firm when it comes to the things that have to get done, and allow yourself to relax the rules a bit when it comes to the entertainment. If your kids are not feeling it for a boardgame, come up with an alternative, better yet, ask them what they would rather do and help them execute their idea.
Don’t neglect health and fitness
It would be so easy to fall into a pattern of lethargy and poor food choices over this time. Don’t you dare! There are creative ways of working a little exercise into each day, and it’s important to get those endorphins flowing to help maintain good cheer. Dig out that skipping rope and time the kids for a set of jumps. They will get a kick out of improving their skill over the lockdown period.
If you don’t have a big garden, set up a small obstacle course in the lounge, 3 loops around the coffee table, a single-leg hop around the couch, 15 sit ups in front of the TV cabinet, and so on. Turn it into a game and see who can complete the obstacle course in the fastest time.
Allow time for fun
It’s essential to keep your sense of humour intact over this trying time. So don’t forget to be silly. Have a pyjama day once a week, make everyone find one great joke every day to share over dinner, wear silly hats every Wednesday, maybe have an ‘upside down day’ when you run through your routine in reverse.
Encourage kids to keep a diary of their achievements over this unusual time. In a notebook of their making, or just on a sheaf of papers, they can list what they’ve done: made a dessert, planted flowers, learned how to knit. When life returns to normal, they will be able to look back on what theyd have accomplished with a sense of pride.
Be safe, bank from home
Although we all have to do our part and stay home during the lockdown, it doesn’t mean you can’t do your banking. Don’t forget you can use our banking app to pay your accounts, buy airtime or electricity and manage your debit orders.