Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Tips For Surviving Lockdown with Your Kids

It’s true that children are resilient and highly adaptable creatures, but that doesn’t mean COVID-19 lockdowns haven’t taken their toll on kids and parents. Chances are, everyone is feeling more than a little spent these days. But guess what? One of the best things you can do for everyone in your family right now is stepping back from the pressure, take a deep breath, and try these tips to help recalibrate your pandemic mindset.

Revamp bedtime

During lockdown, it can be tempting to get lax with bedtime routines. After all, it’s hard to stick to a sleep schedule when your school/daycare/workdays have been put through the blender. But it’s never too late to reinstate a solid bedtime routine. It’s key to the whole family’s health, bringing improved moods, more energy, less daytime sleepiness, and even a stronger immune system.

To get you there, dim the lights. turn off all screens and turn on some soothing white noise an hour before heads hit the pillow. At the same time, add something relaxing to the mix, like reading together while snuggled in bed or a calming bath. Try to say “night-night” at roughly the same time each evening.

Parents: Repeat the same routine for yourself, perhaps swapping storytime for your own relaxation ritual, like a lavender bath or writing in a gratitude journal. Whether you’re a toddler or a grown-up, setting familiar, predictable, and reassuring sleep cues will help you relax and get ready for a good night’s rest.

Prune your to-dos

Did you know that feeling stressed and overwhelmed are classic red flags that you’re trying to do too much? If that rings several bells, take notice of your daily agenda, and find ways to scale back. For instance, maybe let the laundry—and the dishes—pile up a bit higher than usual. Schedule a few super-easy evening meals into the mix, like breakfast for dinner; sandwiches; or premade soup.

Once you start reducing some of your so-called essential household duties, you’ll find that you have more time to focus on yourself. Use that added time to home in on some much-needed self-care. That could be a 5-minute meditation, a power walk before the kids wake up, sitting with a cup of tea and a book, or anything that helps to fill your reserves with renewed energy and light. Once you start making room for yourself, you’ll notice that you’ll finally have room for other things, too, most notably, those you love.

Ditch the “shoulds”

Being so deep into this pandemic, there might be some things you think you should be better at by now like you should be making more home-cooked meals; you should brainstorm more creative activities for your children, or you should scale back on screens. If you’re drowning in a sea of shoulds, now’s the time to stop.

Instead, shift your attention to creating a loose daily schedule that can help retain a sense of normalcy, without the rigidity that’s causing a stressful should overload. Maybe you prioritize eating meals together at a consistent time daily, rather than making sure each meal is homemade. Schedule after-lunch free play for your tot, instead of digging deep for the motivation to do ABC flashcards. During the toddler years, play is more important to their development than academics, anyway! And please remember, these are not normal times, so normal rules of parenting simply don’t apply. Right now, flexibility and offering yourself grace are the hallmarks of savvy parenting.

Find support

While lockdown has temporarily halted in-person interactions, that doesn’t mean you should go without your “village.” Seeking social support—even if it’s virtual—will shore up your resilience, providing a helpful buffer against the blues. That means it might be time to revisit a favourite text chain of your mum friends or dust off that old Zoom account and set up a fresh, recurring meet-up with pals. If nothing else, simply make sure you connect with someone outside of your home for a few minutes each day. Maybe create a rotating list of people you want to send check-in text messages or emails to. Finally, support may be found inside your house, too. If you have a partner, revisit your parenting duties list to ensure they’re divided as evenly as possible. And give each other breaks—even short ones—to recharge and feel supported.

Dr. Harvey Karp is one of America’s most trusted pediatricians and child development experts. He is on the faculty of the USC School of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Karp practised pediatrics in Los Angeles for over 25 years. His landmark discoveries and unique ability to translate complex science into effective techniques to empower parents have revolutionized our understanding of the needs of young children. He is the founder and CEO of Happiest Baby, a smart-tech and parenting solutions company.  

Dr. Karp has devoted his life to helping families raise healthy and happy children. His highly innovative and celebrated books/videos, The Happiest Baby on the Block, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep have been translated into dozens of languages and have made him one of the world’s most renowned baby and sleep experts. Dr. Karp’s breakthrough discoveries —the calming reflex, the 5 S’s and Toddler-ese — have benefited millions of parents and are taught by thousands of specially trained educators in over 20 nations. No wonder, the NY Times applauded his landmark ideas by saying, “Roll over, Dr. Spock!”  

For over 20 years, Dr. Karp has been a tireless advocate and a national leader in the promotion of children’s rights to a healthy and safe environment. His work in protecting children has directly led to state and national laws protecting children. Dr. Karp has served as a spokesman on environmental issues for the NRDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the California Department of Health, and is a founding board member of Healthy Child Healthy World. He is a board member of EWG, whose mission is to protect our nation’s public health and the environment.