Wow. Just…wow. These past few weeks have been a rollercoaster for us all. Between the scariness of the virus, the social isolation, the added responsibility of homeschooling, the uncertainty of the economy, and the emotional and mental toll of it all combined, I feel like I’ve been going through the 5 stages of grief for the past month.
This whole situation is beyond unprecedented and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get through it. But with so many of you sharing that your littles aren’t sleeping as well as usual, I decided to put together some helpful tips for you to attempt to maintain a semblance of normalcy for everyone’s sake.
It’s not a surprise to anyone that babies and young children love consistency and thrive on predictability. Many adults are this way as well (which is why the current uncertainty is so jarring to us.) As much as possible, try to maintain a daily schedule that loosely resembles “normal” for your family. From morning wakeups to meal timing to movie night Fridays, having this predictability provides your child with a roadmap that puts their mind at ease and gives them confidence. Even though you’re likely going to have to make some adjustments like skipping Tuesday’s music class or not spending Saturdays at the park, minimizing the changes can be helpful for everyone.
Just Embrace Screen Time
Recent data has shown that screen time is up between 40-180% and while that number might make you recoil in horror, I’m giving you permission to embrace it rather than feel guilty about it. I’m sure you had every intention of using this time to make sourdough bread or teach your child a new language, but if a little extra iPad time is the difference between a peaceful afternoon and a mutual meltdown, I’d pick the screen every day.
The only caveat to be aware of is that screens emit a lot of blue light which can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin which aids in sleep. Don’t fret about letting your kiddos indulge in extra screen time as needed throughout the day but aim to have all electronics off at least 1-2 hours before bedtime to minimize sleep disturbances. (By the way, this goes for you, too!)
Get Creative & Physical
With everyone being housebound, your kids are likely going to have a ton of excess energy. With caution-taped playgrounds and games of tag with the neighbors off-limits, you’re going to need to get creative to help your kids tire themselves out. Have your little ones help you rearrange the living room and get them pushing some heavy furniture around. Use painters’ tape, toys, and household objects to make an indoor obstacle course. Transport back to your childhood and build an epic fort…the possibilities are endless.
If you follow me on Instagram and have a fun activity you’re trying, send me some pictures or tag me in your stories. I’d love to share your ideas.
Assuming you live in a place where you’re able to get outside and still maintain a safe distance from other people, DO THAT. Sunlight will help maintain the body’s circadian rhythm, and even a bike ride or walk around the block will help to reduce the feelings of confinement and keep everyone from going stir crazy. Plus, outside time (bonus if it includes physical activity) is a nice counterbalance to the uptick in screen time.
As you undoubtedly know, kids are very perceptive, and they most certainly are aware that something serious is happening. Babies are young children aren’t cognitively able to comprehend or emotionally deal with the current situation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not impacting them in a big way. I know it’s not easy given the circumstances, but try your best to minimize your stress levels. Whether that means taking 10 minutes out of your day to do something for yourself or avoiding CNN like it’s the plague (or COVID-19…) try to protect your mental health as much as possible.
There is no playbook for a time like this. There is no example for us to follow. We’re all just trying to navigate these extraordinary times to the best of our ability while keeping ourselves and our children somewhat sane and halfway functional. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings but try your best to focus on the good stuff, the funny memes, and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. We’re all in this together and we will be collectively stronger on the other side.
And if your sleep situation is only adding to your stress and overwhelm, let me help! With options for quick troubleshooting calls or total sleep overhauls, we’ll work together to make sure you’re getting the rest you need at a time like this.