Now we are all socially distancing, it can be difficult at times to adjust to life in this 'new normal'. Below are ten top tips to help support you, as a parent, during these uncertain times. 

Children pick up on how you are feeling so it's important to remain as calm as possible and try to alleviate stresses when they arise. 

1. Be bigger, wiser, stronger and kind

Children may take time to adjust to this ‘new normal’. It can take time for them to understand all of the new information given to them. Following their lead when possible, and taking charge, when needed, will help them to feel safer in uncertain times.

2. Keep up routines

Although your children are now back in school or childcare, they may still be sent home to self-isolate. In that case, Having something familiar will help you keep life on track and support children in managing their worries. Try to keep to normal rhythms of waking, meals and bedtimes. Work with children to come up with new routines that work for your family.
They will need help to manage their emotions when everything around them is changing so give new routines time to settle in and don’t be hard on yourself up when things don’t go as planned.
You can use our routine guide to help plan your day

3. Encourage play

Make sure there are times in the day for being playful – no matter how old your children (or you) are! Children often express feelings and what’s troubling them through their play and it can be easier to talk about worries indirectly, such as when you notice that teddy is being taken to hospital, or the dollies are fighting with one another. Shared physical play activities, joking about, singing and dancing can also boost positive feelings and fun and bring a welcome respite from more serious concerns.

Activities for children during self-isolation.

4. Watch, wait and wonder

You can notice a lot about how your child is coping with change and anxieties by standing back and allowing yourself to notice how they are and what they are up to.
Be curious with them and open to new ideas rather than rushing in to organise them and trying to fix things.

5. You get more of what you notice

As we are all finding ourselves living closer to one another than before, tempers can be raised.
When we are feeling stressed, it is easy to fall into negative patterns with our children and notice the things they do that we have asked them not to or focussing on less positive behaviours.
There are also many positive things taking place such as acts of kindness, as communities and families come together to help one another in difficult times.
These are opportunities for children to help out, take turns, co-operate, and be kind to others. You can reinforce this by noticing and praising positive behaviour and showing them how much you appreciate what they have done.

6. Answer their questions

Children can ask us questions at the most awkward times and in ways that sometimes aren’t clear. Take time to listen and to respond to their questions rather than down-playing them or offering quick reassurances. Be open when you don’t know the answers and let them know that you can try and find out.
Be prepared for questions to be asked more than once, and in different ways, as children process information and sort out the meaning for themselves.
You can read our advice on how to communicate with children about the ongoing pandemic, here.

7. Help children manage uncertainty

Children will look to us to help them and remain steady during these uncertain times. Show them in your words, and in your actions, that tolerating a degree of uncertainty is OK, and that sometimes we just can’t know. Make sure you find support for yourself when you are needing someone or something to steady you.
There are charities available to talk to 24/7.

8. Make connections

We are all spending time at home and away from our friends and wider family at the moment. Support your children to make good use of the technologies available to you, and to link in with community activities such as the singing and clapping that has sprung up around the country.
Where it is not possible to mark important occasions as you normally would, ask children to help you come up with new ideas to ensure you can still celebrate or remember your loved ones.

9. Hold it and count to ten

If tempers flare, take a deep breath and count in your head.
Pause until you can respond more calmly and thoughtfully as children learn from us how to manage their own difficult feelings. Don’t ask more of children than they can manage, and recognise that change is difficult. Take care of yourself and seek help if you are struggling.

10. Self-Care

Give yourself time to do things that help you to feel better.
Avoid spending too much time looking at the news or worrying about the things that you are not able to control. Take care of your own distress by taking actions that help you feel a better sense of personal control, such as setting aside time to address worrying things, and building in time for fun and relaxation, or practising stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness or breathing exercises.