On Sunday, 15 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of national disaster as the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases increased to 51.  One of the measures put in place to prevent the virus from spreading on South African soil was to close all schools as from Wednesday, 18 March until ‘after Easter’.

Although parents only want what is best for their children, there were undoubtedly a lot of doting moms and dads who, upon hearing the news, aged by a good couple of years almost-instantly.  Not only does it become increasingly difficult to keep the children occupied when there are no playdates, no sleepovers, and no trips to the mall with friends, but siblings who are constantly fighting are enough to completely obliterate the patience of even the most resilient parent.

Electronic devices are a blessing and a curse

It may be very tempting to simply hand over a tablet or phone as soon as you hear the soul-destroying ‘I am bored’ tune. Unfortunately, while it may keep the children out of your hair, spending most part of the day in front of an electronic screen is not exactly great for their language and cognitive development.

Instead of using drastic measures to pry your children away from their beloved devices, rather ensure that they have a range of educational apps at their disposal that will keep their brains active.  E-Book apps such as AnyBooks and PlayTales boasts countless book titles to be enjoyed while both Google Play and the App Store are home to a myriad of education apps for children ranging between the ages of 3 and 18.

An electronic device can also help a child maintain some degree of social interaction which could make living in isolation slightly more bearable. While teenagers will automatically turn to Whatsapp, Facebook, and Skype to keep in touch with their friends, younger children may need some help in organizing an occasional video chat or voice-message conversation with a good friend from school.

Electronic devices can be useful

Back to basics

Despite living in an age where technology influences nearly all aspects of our lives, there are still a number of more ‘traditional’ pastimes that can keep children of all ages occupied during periods of isolation like the one we are currently experiencing.  Limit your children’s screen time by offering alternatives that are both engaging and age-appropriate.

Depending on your child’s age, the following activities can be considered:

  • Build puzzles and play board games
  • Make a batch of play-dough and set up a sculpting station
  • Bake cookies/muffins/bread
  • Have a dance-off
  • Have a treasure hunt
  • Do yoga
  • Declutter the house
  • Start a composting project
  • Upcycle unused items

Easy play-dough recipe

Now is also the perfect time to arm your children with a set of practical skills that can prove to be very valuable.

These skills include:

  • Learning to cook and bake
  • Learning how to change a car tire
  • Learning how to sew on a button or hem a skirt
  • Learning how to iron clothes
  • Learning how to draw up a budget
  • Learning how to tend to the garden

A schedule is your best friend

While no one is saying that it will be easy, it is important to remain as calm and focused as possible.  Drawing up a daily schedule for the children and yourself) may come in very handy.  Divide the day into relatively short, manageable periods that allow for both education and free play.

Many local schools have taken the initiative to upload lesson plans to Google Drive etc. that allows the children to keep up with the curriculum to a certain extent.  Die Wolkskool, a web-based platform for Afrikaans learners, teachers, and parents, has also made their resources available free-of-charge until 30 June 2020. If you do not have access to these resources, try to put some time aside to page through your children’s textbooks and formulate a simple study plan accordingly.

Apart from keeping the children busy, one of the biggest challenges a parent will undoubtedly face during this time is a child/children with a new-found, insatiable desire to eat, non-stop!  Whatever you do, do not give in to a child’s demand for a 24/7 supply of snacks. Instead, continue offering 3 balanced meals a day and set aside the allowed snacks for the day early in the morning. Explain to your child that this is their allowed snacks for the day and if they choose to eat it all within 10 minutes, they will have to go without anything until their next meal.

Source: Jennifer Hallstrom

Remember to be kind to yourself as well

The old saying ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ has never rung more true than now. We are living in extremely stressful times and as parents, we habitually cast our own well-being aside in order to focus solely on your families. Self-care takes a back seat as we work harder and longer to ensure that our children are fed, clothed, happy, and healthy.

Mom, dad you need to STOP, even if just for a few minutes a day. Take a breather. Sit down and have that cup of tea or coffee while it is still hot. Put your feet up and watch a movie. Take the long relaxing shower or bath you have been craving for days. What you are doing for your children IS enough. They will be OK if you take half an hour to yourself and do something that makes YOU happy.

Remember that, in order to be there for your children, you need to be there for yourself first. Take your supplements, wash your hands, and remember that together, you and your family can beat COVID-19!

Compiled by: Justine Bishop

Please submit your story to us HERE
For more positive and uplifting stories visit us at #ImStaying