By Waheeda Essop (OT)
Covid19 has impacted all of us this year…from the esteemed businessman to the local GP. It has changed the lives of old and young and managed to bring our world to a shattering halt!
Having had to physically distance, change our routines and discard our ‘norms’…we are now in dire need of a BREAK!
However, with Covid19 still prevalent and our dreadful financial state, going away may not be the luxury everyone can afford. But a STAYcation is definitely needed for all for us to refocus, regroup and restart! This is especially challenging with kids…so here are some helpful guidelines to make staying home as fun as possible.
Yes, we experts keep talking about this!!
But a routine is especially important for kids as it offers them structure and reduces anxiety by knowing what’s coming next. The routine does not have to be an hour-by-hour gruelling schedule…but rather an outline of morning, afternoon and evening activities. Remember to include definite time limits on screens, some sessions for physical activity and snack time (which they can attempt to make themselves of course).
THE LONG-TERM PROJECT
We all have something we would like to do or make “if only I had time”…now’s your chance. Whether it is that 2000-piece puzzle, a garden chair or complicated art project, use this time to get it done! It also serves as ‘fillers’ for free time before another task or activity.
We all need to eat, so performing daily cooking or baking activities is part of our norm. Why not use this as an opportunity for kids to partake in kitchen tasks. They could be responsible for snack time treats or even attempt preparing a meal, depending on their age. You could, depending on your work hours, allocate a meal or 2 for them to prepare on their own! Be sure to educate them on kitchen safety. Younger kids will need adult supervision. As parents we will be tempted to step in but I ask that you be patient and give them this platform…they will definitely surprise you!
Children need fresh air, physical activity and outside play. So even if it means taking their game outside or reading while spread out on the grass…let it be outdoors!! Engaging in physical activity not only promotes healthy little bodies, it allows kids to get rid of excess energy (we know they have tons of this!!). And without the formal learning input they get on school days, physical activity allows children to keep their brain attuned and better focussed!
If you have time off, take your children on small day trips. Depending on your budget, this could be a trip to the zoo or a park for a picnic. Try to schedule these into their week planner…this will get kids excited and looking forward to something. Most of the big cities have numerous programs or events for kids in the holidays so have a look at what’s out there so you can plan accordingly.
LIMIT SCREEN TIME
It’s so tempting to give in to the kid’s favourite babysitter. Be cautious…excessive screen time may result in irritable, restless and angry kids that will likely end up fighting with their sibling! Screen time has a continuous-fun element that results in a low tolerance threshold for children and a lack of interest in ‘usual’ or “expected” tasks. With excessive screen time kids may not be motivated to partake in other activities and, as parents, you may be stuck with whiny cranky kids!
Gardening offers children an on-going leisure activity, instilling values of care and commitment. It stimulates children in fields of fine motor development, planning, tactile stimulations and whilst giving them fresh air and sunshine. If you do not have the space or a large garden, consider pot plants, a small herb garden or even an indoor garden. Gardening also has the added benefit of delayed gratification…where children don’t see an immediate result. This offers them endurance skills that are useful in other mundane or tedious tasks.
THE DREADED CLEAN-UP
Sorting out clothing, schoolbooks and toys area is an absolute drag!! This should not be the sole responsibility of parents to sort. Get the kids involved from start to finish. Depending on your time…you can do an all-out session and finish these chores at one go, maybe at the beginning of the hols. Alternatively they can be staggered, focussing on a room/area at a time, squeezing in some fun activities in between! You can also make this time into a game or competition to see who finishes first or has the most toys suitable for giving away.
TIME TO REFLECT
Whether you’re a religious family, pray often or have strong spiritual beliefs, be sure to encourage children to use time in their day to immerse themselves in some form of spiritual activity. This could be a prayer, a short recitation or just a few words of expression or gratitude. Spirituality is an important factor in the lives of children, it offers meaning to life and can be a child’s portal into the unseen allowing them to grasp concepts not visible. It also helps children form deeper more meaningful relationships. Research studies indicate spirituality in children is an important factor to having happy children. Other research shows that the spiritual or reflective aspect in learning offers a holistic approach to the upbringing of children and the interplay of this dimension enhances learning.
So mums and dads, whether you’re off on a road trip or planning to stay home, take care of your little one’s mind, body and soul! Wishing you a relaxing festive season and hope you all get the opportunity to RE-BOOT!
 ScienceDaily. 12 January 2009. Spirituality Is Key To Kids’ Happiness. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090108082904.htm>
 Mukhlis, A. B. (2012). ‘Learning and Spirituality in Young Muslim Children’. Journal of Religious Education.