According to a 2018 study, U.S. families used to spend 37 minutes of quality time together per day.1 That was before COVID-19. Today’s lockdown means no school, no going to the office, and no escape from each other. Add anxiety about finances, employment, and what's happening in the news, and it's no surprise that many families are suffering from the lockdown blues.
Even with the lifting of some restrictions, a return to the full freedoms we were accustomed to just a few months ago seems a way off. With parents potentially working from home for another few months, and with the school summer break in full swing, families will be spending a lot more time together.
We’ve compiled some tips on how to help make lockdown less of a strain.
1. Get outside
Make the most of summer. If you are fortunate enough that your home includes some outside space, use it. Encourage the kids to embrace the great outdoors by getting them into the backyard. You could even combine outdoor fun with educational activities such as identifying bugs. Or you can channel their energy into useful chores like tidying the yard or sweeping up leaves. Speaking of chores…
2. Do the chores
If you’re struggling to find time to do all the household chores, try getting the kids to help out. Depending on their age, why not ask them to wash the car or take the dog for a walk? A little monetary incentive may be required, but they’ll get their reward in more than dollars – they’ll feel a sense of achievement and get a free lesson in money management. Get some great tips on teaching your kids about money in “Five top tips to get your kids money-smart in 2020.”
3. Life skills for teenagers
Teenagers are having a hard time with COVID-19. They're missing out on spending time with their friends and missing many of the fun things associated with the end of the school year. To fill their time, they could take an online course to gain a new life skill – anything from car maintenance to investing – which will look good on their resumé when they apply for college or employment.
4. Get baking
When it comes to younger children, home-schooling never stops. While baking may seem like playtime, it's also great way to teach numerous skills. Weighing out ingredients is a practical math lesson. You can also teach kids the importance of healthy eating – baking doesn’t need to be all about sugar and chocolate. Or use alternative ingredients like rice flour (gluten-free) or carob chips in place of chocolate. Kids crave creativity, so baking enables them to make something they’ll be proud of. And you can eat it too!
5. Reach out to your extended family
By now you're probably up-to-speed with platforms like Zoom to communicate with your extended family members. You can bring extra cheer to aunts, uncles and grandparents with a homemade card or gift. Encourage the kids to get crafting on a personalized creation. Extended family members can reciprocate and send some cheer to you too – maybe you could ask older relatives to share some pictures of the family over the generations on your next Zoom?
6. Beat the blues for two
For those partnered with kids, rather than just focusing on kids all the time, it's important to find quality time for you to enjoy your partner’s company. You may not be able to visit your favorite restaurant, but keep the tradition of date night alive with dinner for two at home. Why not leave the kids with a movie and a pizza and make a special effort to recreate your first date night? Enjoy a candlelit conversation over dinner – even if it’s only takeout.
1 “Visit Anaheim Study on Families & Quality Time.” March 20, 2018. Accessed 3 June 2020. https://visitanaheim.org/va-news/visit-anaheim-study-reveals-american-families-spend-the-most-quality-time-together-while-on-vacation
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