By Syrenthia Colino
Families everywhere are quarantined in their homes. Suddenly, we all find ourselves together 24/7 with not much else to do but spend time together. While your children may roll their eyes or give you the ever-loving ‘I’m bored’ every 20 minutes, this can be a great time to truly connect, have fun, and let loose of any expectations.
This is a time to focus on self-care for yourself as well as your family as a unit. It’s a time to get creative, have fun, and most of all find out what else is possible during this time. Sure, we could all sit here and complain about our circumstances and wish that we were back to our old lives, but that only brings us down further and that helps no one. In fact, stress, depression, and anxiety can weaken your immune system, putting you at further risk of getting infected.
You must take care of yourself so that you have the energy and stamina to engage with your family the ones that need you the most.
Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
Let’s face it – you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you want to be there for your loved ones, you need to take care of yourself. Yes, you are together 24/7 and it may feel like there’s no time, but there is – you just have to get creative.
Taking a few minutes here and there for yourself will do wonders for your mental and physical health. Plus, you’ll show your kids how important it is to take care of yourself. Remember, they are watching everything you do, so you might as well use this time to model self-care and let them follow in your footsteps.
Ways to Care for Yourself
- Get up and get ready in the morning. Sure, we could all live in our pajamas all day, but how does that make you feel? Instead, get up, shower, and get dressed as if it’s a ‘regular day’ and watch your perspective change.
- Exercise every day. Even if you take a 15-minute walk, take the time to exercise your body. You’ll get those endorphins pumping, which will naturally make you feel better and ready to help your kids.
- Start a hobby. What better time to try something new? YouTube is filled with free lessons for anything you can imagine. If you aren’t feeling creative, start a puzzle, take up Sudoku, or do crossword puzzles, just keep your mind busy.
- Connect with others. The lack of connection is probably one of the hardest things for caretakers today, but guess what? It’s easier than you think. FaceTime, Zoom (it’s free), and even Netflix Parties makes it easy to connect with your friends and family in new ways.
- Write in a journal. You must get your feelings out. If you’re feeling scared, sad, anxious, or anything else – you have to get it out. Journaling is a powerful way to put words to your feelings without scaring your loved ones. It also helps you think clearer, making room for more positive thoughts moving forward.
Activities for the Family
Once you care for yourself, you’ll have plenty of energy to engage with your family. This extended time inside together really calls for some creativity. Check out the top ways you can connect with your family below.
- Make mealtime fun. Say goodbye to the boring meals at the kitchen table and bring some excitement to your home. Have indoor picnics, create themed dinners (Disney dinners, Mexican dinners, breakfast for dinner, etc.) Let your kids see that it doesn’t have to be so serious!
- Have fun ‘contests.’ What’s something your kids love to do? If they’re artists, have a drawing contest. Do they love to cook? Have a baking contest. Draw on their skills and let them show their expertise, of course, beating you in anything that you try.
- Have a dance party. What better way to lift moods than to play loud music and dance together? Let your kids see you let loose. It will help them feel like it’s okay to be silly and have fun even during such unknown times.
- Listen to a celebrity read a story. If you go on any social media site and follow your favorite celebrities, you’re bound to find someone reading nighttime stories. Dolly Parton, Josh Gad, and Jennifer Garner are just a few of the celebrities taking part in this.
- Host a movie night. Make your kids feel like they’re in the theater. Make it a complete night with popcorn, movie theater candy, and the movie on your speakers so it sounds like you are at the movies. You can even make it fun by printing out ‘tickets’ and letting them pick their seats.
- Help them learn a new skill. Now is a great time to play on your child’s passions. What is something they love to do and would love to learn more about? Do some research together and build on it, whether it’s something basic like cooking or art or they have a passion for science, astronomy, sewing – the sky’s the limit and the internet is a wealth of information.
- Exercise together. Working out is the best way to boost everyone’s immune system. Make it fun rather than serious. If you can, take it outside in your yard or around the block (just keep your distance from others). Ride bikes, take a walk, have a race, jump rope, make a hopscotch board, or make an obstacle course and everyone does it including mom and dad!
The most important thing right now is to have fun and that includes everyone. You are the role models for your kids – they will mimic what you do and how you feel. If you want to set the tone in your house, take time for you and it will become easier to take care of your kids and deal with their ‘I’m bored’ comments with more ease and joy!