How to cope as a family in isolation

With extended lockdowns being a norm, working from home can be doubly hard with raised anxieties

How to cope as a family in isolation

While working from home can increase the risk of a productivity slump or cybersecurity issues, those on lockdown in busy households may experience heightened stress levels and endless distractions.

Working from home with children has led to amusing stories on social media – but the reality may be tougher than imagined.

HRD has compiled a list of practical tips for working parents to cope with juggling responsibilities during extended lockdowns, where schools are simultaneously closed in our battle against COVID-19.

But being forced to stay in 24/7 can affect children’s emotional well-being as much as working adults. We spoke to a workplace well-being expert for advice on getting yourself and your family through a lockdown in one piece.

Stay active
Inactivity means boredom and boredom means terrible moods, said David Price, CEO at Health Assured.

“Try to make sure you’re all moving and keeping active,” Price said. “If you can go outside for exercise as a household, take advantage of this.”

Depending on the age of your child, you can keep them occupied with crafts. Probably not appropriate for teenagers but activities like a paper aeroplane competition can get your children working hard, and maybe learning something about physics.

READ MORE: COVID-19: WHO offers physical and mental health advice

Manage anxiety
In such an unprecedented crisis, Price said it’s vital to make sure your children understand the gravity of the situation, but also important to ensure you don’t frighten them.

“Let them know that this is a serious time, and the whole world is in the same state, but don’t let them think they’re in immediate danger,” he said.

“You are likely anxious and that’s fine. It’s natural to have certain worries right now. But you should get on top of these worries, to remain healthy for those family members who need you.”

Some healthy habits that may help at this time include limiting news and social media exposure, talking to friends via video chat, and staying busy to keep the anxiety down.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Simple ways to save workers' mental health

Organise your work
Working from home with kids can be challenging even at the best of times. In times of crisis, it’s okay to feel under a lot of pressure juggling work and home commitments.

Now is the time to talk to your employer about the possibility of flexible hours, he said. If you’re all set up to work remotely, getting a little bit of that work done in the evening to free your afternoon hours for your family is a great idea. And it also means getting a little self-care time in, too.

“It’s vitally important to keep your own head above water, with mindfulness, meditation and some alone time,” he said.

READ MORE: Remote work: Will it really kill productivity?

Plan the days
Children tend to be used to a routine, with school taking up the bulk of their time. And as you’ve probably noticed from term holidays, they get a bit antsy when that routine suddenly isn’t there.

Try to make sure there’s a regularity to their days, suggested Price, to stop their minds wandering too much. Anyway they’re likely accessing schoolwork online now, so work out a schedule with them.

“You know your children best and know whether they need this schedule to be solid, or to have a little flexibility,” he said. “But ensure they have breaks, that they’re working toward well-defined goals and they have access to the resources they need.”

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