As a parent, are you wondering if you're doing enough?
These are confusing, uncertain and overwhelming times. As a parent, you've likely taken on unforeseen roles as teachers and therapists to one or more of your children, while adding in the layer of doing it all while confined at home.
Not to mention, many of you are also working from home.
The most common question we are hearing is: "Am I doing enough?"
Let's first appreciate that if your child feels safe and loved, you are doing enough.
Every moment of our lives and children's lives is an opportunity to learn. This is an opportunity to teach our children compassion, resilience and hope through our own actions and behaviors.
Here are some helpful tips to create fun and a sense of normalcy in these uncertain times.
• Use a daily schedule and have it posted for the whole family to see. Routines are important for children and adults. They highlight consistency and make the lives of our little ones more predictable in such unpredictable times (a sample schedule is below).
• Use this extra time to slow down and foster independence in self-help activities (utensil use during feeding, brushing teeth, dressing).
• Include your child in household chores when appropriate (i.e. cooking, laundry, cleaning).
• Make time to move. If the weather is nice, go out for a walk using appropriate social distancing. Have a good old-fashioned dance party, create an indoor obstacle course or try one of the many free virtual yoga programs.
• Sing. Make up songs, sing your favorite nursery rhymes or attend a virtual music class.
• Stimulate the tactile system through play. Dump dry goods (beans, rice, noodles) in a large pot, finger paint, color with chalk, make homemade Play-Doh.
• Foster language development. Narrate your play, think about incorporating new vocabulary during activities, use descriptive words while trying out new sensory experiences.
• Remember that anything can be an adventure: going on a walk/scavenger hunt, looking out the window or banging safe kitchen items together to see what sounds they make.
• If you do nothing else, read to your child every day.
Here is one example of a daily home schedule:
2. Free play
3. Learning activities
5. Arts and crafts
6. Movement activities
9. Nap/quiet time
10. Outdoor play/movement
11. Learning activities
14. Free Play
16. Free play/tech time
17. Bedtime routine
Remember, not every day may go as planned. That is expected. Start small. Create one daily enrichment experience for your child. If it goes poorly one day, it will go better the next.
During these trying times, if your child is feeling safe and loved, you are doing enough.
• Children's health is a continuing series. Kristin Lamb is an occupational therapist and Isabel Diaz is a developmental therapist, both at Advocate Children's Hospital.