Family Wellbeing

My child is prone to bouts of anxiety. How can I look after my child’s mental health during this crisis?  

You children will take their cues from you, so try to remain calm around them, and keep as much normality in your lives as possible. If your children are older, try to limit their exposure to news on social media as this cannot always be trusted and may increase anxiety levels. Focus on new systems which have been put into place to keep us all safe, and share positive news articles. Remember to do things you enjoy! Daily exercise is good for the body and mind, so encourage this also. Above all, lots of reassurance. The NHS and Every Mind Matters have put together some tips on how to avoid anxiety during this time. Click here to see.

My children are missing their grandparents hugely. The grandparents are ‘shielding’ for 3 months – how can we maintain the closeness?

Technology! Use video calling so that your children can hear familiar voices and see familiar faces. Try to encourage your children to engage in an activity with them during the call – for example, they can read a book together, do a crossword together, or draw and colour together. This will work best on a one-to one-level. If they are used to seeing each other daily, keep up this routine via video calling. It may also help if your children understand that these measures have been put into place to keep family members safe and well.

My twins only see their dad every other week.  Is it safe for them to be splitting their time between 2 homes?

Government guidance says that you are allowed to take your child to their other parent’s home and bring them back, so you can keep your normal contact arrangements. However, this doesn’t mean that children must be moved between homes. You should discuss the situation with your children’s other parent and use your own judgement to decide what is safest for your family.  

You should not move children between your home and the other parent’s home if somebody in either home is in the most at risk group (sometimes called ‘shielded’), or has Covid-19 symptoms. You can find further information on this on Gingerbread’s website, where they have a page dedicated to co-parenting during the pandemic. Click here.

My babies are currently sharing a cot, in light of the pandemic, is it OK for them to continue to do so?

There is no evidence that co-bedding increases the risk of transmission, so as long as your babies are well, the advice is that it is still safe for them to sleep together in the same cot.

My children have so much energy! How can I keep them active when they can only go out to exercise once a day?

Make the most of their outside exercise time. Encourage your children to ride on their bikes or scooters to make it fun and highly active. If they are older you can set daily challenges for running/walking or cycling and track the distance each day, to keep things interesting and to give the exercise a purpose.  

Whilst they can’t play in the park you could try bringing the park to you. If you have a drive way or garden you could draw hopscotch on the floor to encourage jumping and skipping. Dig out garden toys from the garage, skipping ropes, hula hoops etc. Keep these accessible in the garden to encourage them to be used. You can also use online tutorials to encourage indoor activates; such as indoor PE lessons, yoga, dance, etc.

My children can be very socially anxious, how will they cope when the schools open again?  I am worried about their friendship groups deteriorating.

Try to encourage communication between your children and their friends. This can be by text, phone calls or video calls. This will avoid your children feeling as if they are in a ‘bubble’ whilst they are away from school. If friendships can be nurtured this way, it will make it easier once your children return to school. Make sure your children understand that everybody is having time away from school, so their friends will all be having similar feelings. Also, if your children are older, encourage communication with their teachers if this is offered, even just an occasional email or phone call, will help them stay connected and make the return to school smoother.

I have 4 children at home, life is very hectic, how am I going to find any ‘me’ time?

Many parents will be feeling the same. It is important that you carve out some time for yourself, without feeling guilty about it, it is absolutely needed, in order for you to keep your energy levels up.  

If you have a partner, try to dedicate a small amount of time each day for each of you to have some time away from the children if you feel this is needed. It might be that whilst the children are outside having some exercise with their other parent, you could stay behind and have some time to yourself.  

If you are a single parent, perhaps ask a family friend or family member to chat to your children via video call, so that you can take some time to yourself. Don’t be tempted to let the children’s bedtimes get later and later. This quiet time in the evening is essential for you to recharge your battery.

Shopping

I can’t book a delivery slot at my local supermarket - can I take my children out to the supermarket with me? How can I ensure we stay safe?

Many of the large supermarkets are asking that only one adult from each household visit their shop at a time. So ideally it is best to leave your children at home with their other parent/carer. 

However, if this is not possible make sure you are prepared before you visit the shops with a shopping list and toys/games to keep the children engaged. Consider bringing antibacterial wipes to wipe the trolley handle if children are sat in the trolley. Wash your hands before and after shopping. A full weekly shop may feel overwhelming and take too long which can may result in unsettled/bored behaviour. It may work well to break it down to 2 smaller weekly shopping trips.

If you have friends or family members who are happy to help with groceries, consider asking them to buy key items for you to keep you going throughout the week.

Finally, check supermarket websites prior to visiting, they may have some useful guidance specific to their store.

I am a mum of triplets and I can’t buy my usual amount of formula milk or nappies, is there anyway, as parents of twins, that I can get more than the normal rationed amount?

You are not alone. This has been an issue for many families of twins, triplets and more. Twins Trust have acknowledged this and written a letter to all of the major UK supermarkets, alerting them to this issue. Feel free to print this letter and take it to the supermarket with you. You can download the letter here and see supermarket responses here.

I need some help with my shopping but have nobody to ask?  Where can I go for help?

Each local council has set up an initiative to help families who need extra support during this time, particularly with essential practicalities such as grocery shopping. They will match volunteers who would like to help, with families who need help. Search online to find your local council’s website to find out how they can help you.

Finances

I have bills to pay and a mortgage. How can I keep my job during the lock down?  My children are off school and I have no child care?

This is an issue which is facing so many parents across the UK and the world. The Government have set out many different options to support employers and employees like yourself. The Government initiatives are designed to help people stay in employment in these unusual times, and to enable employees to continue to receive an income. Please see the latest Government advice on this here.  

Due to changes in my employment status, I am worried I won’t be able to pay my bills this month, where can I go to for advice?

If you are no longer employed due to the current pandemic, it might be worth reading the latest government advice to employees (see here) to ensure that the change in employment circumstances were in line with employment laws. This webpage will also inform you of all the different benefits which are available to support families in difficult circumstances.  

If you are struggling to keep up with your bills, you may be able to take some ‘repayment holidays, but these must be agreed by your lender/supplier first. These repayment holidays could apply to rent, council tax, mortgage repayments and energy bills. For more information on this –please visit the Citizens Advice’s website here.

Education

My daughter has learning difficulties and had a lot of extra support at school. How can we support her from home so that she doesn’t fall behind all her friends?

Firstly, remember that most of your daughter’s friends, if not all of them, will not be attending school either so most will be in a similar situation when they return to school. Your daughter’s teachers will still be available to support you. Seek out their email address if it has not been provided, and ask for their support. They will be able to guide you as to what you can do from home to help. Whilst your daughter is no longer at school, the school will be striving to provide lessons and ideas for you to complete at home. Try to build this into your daily routine.