This week, COVID-19, like a tsunami, finally smashed us, wiping away our ordinary routines and leaving us in a strange new state. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have multiplied every day, schools and many organizations have closed their doors indefinitely, and public health officials have urged everyone to stay home except for essential activities.
Some municipalities have also ordered citizens to shelter in place. Navigating this uncharted territory has specific challenges for parents. Whether you are on the front lines of this pandemic while your kids are home, you’re suddenly out of work with children to care for, or you can communicate with your kids underfoot, most of us are puzzled.
We’re balancing duties with limited or no childcare, taking on home-schooling responsibilities we never expected, and trying to follow disease-prevention steps we’re not sure we’re prepared to handle.
In group text chains, Facebook groups, and blogs, dads and moms are debating whether children should have play dates or see grandparents, what to do if anyone in the home gets a fever, how to limit germ transmission, and how we’re all supposed to stay safe and sane.
Why It Is Better to Stay Home
There are two primary reasons it’s important for families to stay home as much as possible today.
First, though coronavirus will definitely spread, we would like to slow it down, so hospitals are not inundated simultaneously. Second, we would like to defend the aging and other vulnerable residents with underlying health conditions from getting the virus because they’re more likely to develop severe illness.
Indeed, initial research shows that children often have fewer signs of COVID-19 caused in comparison with adults. However, that does not mean children are not at risk of receiving the virus or passing it. In reality, evidence indicates that children are as likely as adults to get the covid-19. But because kids may have no or few symptoms, we might not know it.
The best thing to do is to avoid unnecessary exposure to others, especially if you live with someone with a compromised immune system or grandparent. This way, you and your children won’t accidentally spread the covid-19 to them.
While several people are not able to work from home, some are working from home, and they have been able to make other adjustments. As an example, you canceled a forthcoming plane trip and celebrating your important occasions at home.
Just Say No to Playdates
Parents on media have been discussing whether children can get together at home in small groups or one-on-one. But the devastating consensus from public health experts is to call off play dates and any other non-required contact with people who don’t live in the same house with you.
“Given that it can take 5 to 14 days to develop Coronavirus symptoms, and since the average child will have mild to no symptoms, many children may be infectious without knowing they are infected,” says Steve Silvestro, M.D., a nurse at the Washington, D.C., area.
So if your daughter’s best friend seems right, that is healthy now, that is no guarantee she isn’t having the covid-19, and the same goes for your child.
Every infection is caused by a series of infections. “If you are hanging out with people and they are hanging out with different people, it is possible to see your primary and secondary circles begin to get bigger and bigger,” Silvestro states. “You might end up with the same number of exposures as in a complete classroom of children, which defeats the purpose of canceling school.”
Everything you can do, however, is to go out for fresh air and exercise. Play basketball or take walks. You may plan a bicycle ride with a friend as long as you stay at least 6 feet apart. Though skip the public playground gear, O’Leary says, as research shows, the coronavirus can survive on metal surfaces for days.
“We have said no playdates, which my children are not happy about,” States Traci Kantowski, who has two elementary-school-age kids in Wheaten, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. But she’s allowed to go on walks with her children and their friends provided that they stand a few feet apart. “A fun thing that our community is doing this week is everybody is creating shamrocks and leprechauns to hang in windows, and children are searching for them while out on walks and social distancing.”
Emily McClemens, a mother of 2 daughters in Orlando, Fla., says her family dropped its spring break tour this week but are spending a great time out and on family bike rides. “But I have seen several play dates in our area where children and parents are gathered,” she says. “I do not think people realize how serious this is.”
Practice Basic Germ Control
If you do leave home, use hand sanitizer after touching public surfaces, and avoid touching your face. When you return home, wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 minutes. Keeping hands clean is one of the measures you can take to avoid infection and to decrease the germs you bring home.
While you’re out, you could also think of wearing gloves. “The skin on my palms started cracking because of all the excess hand-washing and sanitizing, so I have been wearing gloves when I do need to go somewhere public,” states Donna Wolfe, a mother of two daughters in Olympia, Wash.” I take them off when I get back in the car.”
Silvestro, the pediatrician in the D.C. area, who is also the host of the “Child Repair Guide” podcast, states wearing gloves, may also offer an extra reminder to never touch your face. Though don’t purchase disposable latex gloves now as those may be in short supply for health personnel. Any kind of gloves will suffice here as long as you wash them after use.
Remember that it’s still important to wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after you blow your cough, nose, or sneeze, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When cleaning at home, you can lessen the spread of many pathogens by concentrating on common areas, particularly those that get a lot of “touch traffic.” These include sink faucets, light switches, doorknobs, kitchen counters, refrigerator door pulls, and toilet handles state the AAP’s O’Leary. If you have a toddler or baby who tends to mouth toys, clean those frequently, too.
What To Do If Your Child Looks Sick
Research in the outbreak overseas has found that children are not as likely as adults to experience the most acute manifestations of the covid-19 for reasons that scientists are still figuring out. In the majority of children who have contracted the virus, the symptoms–such as cough, fever, and gastrointestinal upset–have been moderate and can be treated at home.
There is, though, new research from China that discovered that a small percentage of kids with the coronavirus, especially infants and toddlers, became severely ill.
“If your child starts to look sick, call your doctor for advice,” O’Leary says. “But do not go to the doctor unless you are advised to since we do not wish to overwhelm our health care system. It might or might not be covid-19, and in most areas of the nation, they are not going to have the ability to check your child at this time anyhow.”
Even without a confirmed diagnosis, your doctor is likely to imply that you treat your child’s symptoms with rest, over-the-counter medication, and liquids—as you would for the flu. If symptoms worsen, contact your doctor, O’Leary says.
If your child has an existing condition, such as asthma; and autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes; or a history of heart, lung, or kidney disease, “track them carefully, and, if covid-19 symptoms are found, maintain close contact with your doctor,” Silvestro states.
If anybody in your home, or your child, is having and ill difficulty breathing, get medical help immediately.
Lynel Katz, Westfield, N.J., with three, is not currently taking any chances. “We are staying in,” she says. “We have stocked up on all medication and have extra insulin in the refrigerator.”
Separate Symptomatic Family Members
If anyone in your home is feeling ill, keep that person in a separate room as much as possible. While this might be hard, if children share a bedroom or particularly in close quarters, do everything you can to make the distance around that family member. Family members who are ill should also wear a face mask when around others, if one is available, according to the CDC.
“Additionally wash and disinfect all things they use, and provide dedicated items if at all possible,” states Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., a professor of biology at Simmons University in Boston and an expert in community and home hygiene. “Avoid sharing towels, wash hands frequently, and disinfect all touched surfaces at the house on at least a daily basis and perhaps more frequently.”
You may never know whether your sick relative gets the covid-19, but for right now, “behave as though they have it,” Silvestro states. “I am not usually one to drum up anxiety, but since this virus is sneaky and easily spread, we must essentially act as anyone could have it.”
How to Boost Your Mental Health
While parents are concerned about their families, their financing, communities, and more, the AAP emphasizes that we all can benefit from activities that keep us calm and connected to others.
Bake with the children, go for a run, talk on the telephone with your very best friend, and encourage your children to join online with theirs.
We recommend making a family routine because the structure can help adults and children feel a sense of safety during stressful times. This may include time for work, studying, a break for lunch and a stroll, and an evening family board game.
For Margo DeAngelo, in New York, the natural act of cooking Shrimp scampi for dinner this week gave her and her daughter some relaxation. “Having something halfway nice on the table makes me feel like normalcy is not totally lost,” she says.
Tammy Spiewak, a certified yoga teacher, just set up Livestream yoga and meditation sessions for families at an affordable price. “I saw how parents were scrambling to determine what to do with their children at home, and I knew I could provide an action that lowers stress and helps people feel better emotionally and physically,” Spiewak states. “I have felt how important it is for the parents to participate, too, because frankly, the parents want it as much or more than the children.”
Yoga is a great way to spend some time together as a family. By integrating the breathwork, mindfulness, and physical advantages of yoga, you can tap into the fun, creative soul of your loved ones.
Yoga has many benefits for adults and children alike, providing a basis for body awareness and mindfulness in addition to a physical outlet for directing energy. It is discovered that doing yoga for a family is a terrific way to give kids the tools to manage the ups and downs of life, connect to their own body, and tune into their emotional and psychological state regularly.
If you determine to try a family class, the great news is that several places give family yoga classes. However, they aren’t always at the time of day that fits your schedule, or they are only provided for a short period. That’s when you will need to find ways to integrate what you’ve learned in the studio into practice at home. With a few preparations and an open mind, there are lots of fun ways to include family yoga.
1) Create Space
The first step for yoga practice is to locate a space free from distractions with space for everybody to move.
2) Find a DVD or Online Class
Want to embark on your exploration but not sure how to begin? There is an assortment of choices available to establish and maintain an at-home yoga routine. It is possible to borrow a DVD from the community library, buy your own DVD from gaiam.com or a local shop, or learn more about the wide variety of audio and video courses online. Gaiam makes it simple with a range of yoga DVDs, or Gaiam’s Yoga Studio App so that you don’t need to go it alone.
We continue and breathe giggles and get creative in generating presents. Bear in mind they’ll have their own tastes and that this is a voyage of discovery to your kids.
Like everything, it takes time to begin something new, and when adding children to the mixture, flexibility is crucial. Give yourself and space and time to explore the breathing exercises and poses yoga provides, and remember to embrace the creativity and fun that evolves, building a deeper bond and belief for all involved.