Tips to help families cope during self-isolation due to COVID-19

This is an older post, there may be more recent information available. Please visit our COVID-19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, support, and tips. 

As Canadians are encouraged to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, families are facing the challenge of keeping children’s needs met while at home. 

As a Red Crosser and a mom, this scenario has made me pause to think about my own level of preparedness for this type of emergency and come up with some strategies to help my family cope.

We already have a stocked emergency kit with many essentials, including food, medication and personal hygiene items to sustain us for at least 72 hours. We prepared this kit with power outages, flooding or severe weather in mind.

A boy sitting on the floor playing with a puzzleI’m now adapting my emergency kit to keep my four-year-old son entertained, as well as meet his needs for physical activity and his overall comfort, while spending our days at home. 

Depending on children’s ages, needs and interests, it is helpful to stock up on items such as:
  • Diapers, formula, medication or other essentials for babies
  • Favourite snacks, fluids and non-perishable foods your children will enjoy
  • Craft supplies and projects
  • Books or other materials from your local library (including online resources)
  • Learning materials to help kids keep up with homework
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Small surprises that you can introduce over time (small toy, treats, new book)
I recognize the luxury of having a small backyard allows my family to continue spending time outdoors during this ti;e, as it doesn't involve being in close contact with others. This means we can play games outdoors and get some fresh air.

For those who do not have backyards or an outdoor space, there are more limited opportunities to spend time outdoors. Always follow the advice of public health officials when it comes to self-isolation.
We also replaced some of our usual group activities with family activities such as kitchen dance parties and yoga at home.

I’m loath to suggest more screen time, but spending this much time at home seems to be the one exception to that rule. It’s an opportunity to watch those family favourite movies and television shows on free streaming services from broadcasters or from streaming apps, or games the whole family can play on a tablet or video console. Video chat is also a great way to stay connected with loved ones, family and friends.

For both children and adults facing self-isolation, it’s important to maintain a sense of routine throughout the day, from regular meal times to bedtimes. For parents who need to work from home, it may mean taking turns working and parenting. Parents shouldn’t forget about their own needs. Meditation, yoga, and other forms of self-care will go a long way to ensuring your own wellbeing during this difficult time.

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