Staying At Home During Covid-19 Outbreak: How to Plan Activities with Your Kids, and Take 'Sanity Breaks'

The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
29 Mar 2020

Ms June Yong, who is in charge of editorial content at Focus on the Family Singapore, suggests discussing boundaries upfront.

She says: "Involve the children in thinking about what you can do as a family to manage space constraints, routines and screen time, and device use.

"For example, if one child needs to work on an e-assignment, can he use the shared desktop at a certain time while his sibling tackles her homework that does not require the computer?"

REHEARSE CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Talking about conflict before it erupts lays the ground for parents to reach for appropriate ways to react and gives the children a chance to raise their own concerns and needs, Ms Yong says.

Brainstorm solutions to deal with raised voices by thinking of places in the home where one can cool off, and pre-empt arguments by asking the kids to take turns when it comes to prized resources like digital devices.

TAKE 'SANITY BREAKS'
"It may be more helpful to think about trying to parent calmly for the bulk of each day, or to aim for at least three to five positive interactions with each child daily, rather than setting an impossible standard of perfection (of never losing your cool)," says Ms Yong.

"If you feel you're losing control, say it out loud: 'Mummy is feeling upset and would appreciate some space. Please give me 10 minutes to cool off in my room.'

"Stating our needs early can help our kids be aware of our feelings and conscious of their actions."

She recommends parents take "sanity breaks" by stealing away for 15 minutes of quiet when everyone else is preoccupied.

SET BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR SPOUSE
Ms Yong says: "Spouses need boundaries too. Some people need peace and quiet to work; others enjoy occasional banter or background music. It helps to state each other's needs and preferences."

Set realistic expectations regarding working from home, doing household chores and child-minding, and team up on tasks such as dad supervising the children's homework while mum is cooking.

PLAY FAMILY GAMES
Structure is good but do not get too hung up on keeping to a minute-by-minute schedule.

Ms Yong from Focus on the Family Singapore suggests building in time for school work, chores, exercise, play and breaks.

"Bear in mind that a young child may be able to sit through a task for only around 20 to 30 minutes."

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