While the most obvious and important priority in your life right now is keeping yourself and your family safe, social distancing has a few smaller, less apparent dangers, including bad habits becoming much easier to fall into. The same goes for your children.
With everyone home all the time, it can get exhausting trying to make sure everyone is spending their free time well, eating nutritious meals, and getting their work and school done. To help, we’ve come up with some of the best ways to build healthy habits during social distancing for families.
Create Rituals and Routines
The effects of routine on the brain are well-documented. Among these benefits are reduced stress, better sleep, and even better diet. The loss of routine is disorienting and might be partially to blame if you’ve been feeling frustrated, anxious, or otherwise negative since social distancing began.
Obviously, during a pandemic, it makes sense to feel increased stress, but a routine can help both you and your children as you figure out the new normal for your home and your life. If you’re working from home, maybe take a walk before or after your day begins or ends, to create a divide between your time. For the kids, a routine activity like exercise or gardening can provide a sense of order.
Don’t Change Too Much
Healthy habits are great, but changing too much of the way you lived your life pre-quarantine can end up doing more harm than good. After all, we are creatures of routine, and destroying the old routine to try to build a healthier one has good intentions, but can be overwhelming.
Instead, start with incremental changes. Add one healthy meal a day, or buy 2-4 plants at the store to begin a garden with the kids. If you attempt to change your whole diet, how you spend your time, and even your sleep schedule, all while balancing social distancing, it could lead to a crash. Making smaller changes over time is better for everyone.
Without gyms, parks, and playgrounds, it’s easy to get lazy. But exercise is vital for both physical and mental health. And during social distancing, exercise is a great way to connect with the whole family. While it’s still advisable to remain distant from others, you can still go on walks and bike rides in most parts of the country, if not all.
This is also a great way to create a healthy habit that is part of your routine, knocking out two birds with one stone. A daily walk provides space without screens or distractions where you can talk about either what you’re thinking about, things you’re afraid of, or simply anything you might see on the walk.
From visual art to playing an instrument, there are almost no limits to things you can pick up at virtually any age using the internet. The same goes for you and your children. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions for new hobbies during social distancing:
- Birdwatching: This activity can be done anywhere, on walks and at home in the comfort of your backyard. Use binoculars or just your eyes to examine beautiful species that you never noticed were there.
- Drawing/Painting: Use YouTube or online resources or just pick up a pad of paper at a nearby store (or just use printer paper) to begin drawing together. Even if you’re not very good, it’s a fun way to spend time with the family.
- Gardening: Teaching young children the importance of gardening is one of the best ways you can spend your free time. From gardening, children can learn patience, understanding, and greater respect for the natural world, not to mention respect for where food actually comes from.
- Board Games: Whether it’s fun and fast like Yahtzee or requires patience and strategy like Chess, board games are a mostly healthy option that allows you to connect and engage with the family. It also enables you to teach sportsmanship to the more competitive members of the family.
There are plenty of unhealthy habits and hobbies you could pick up, and even some that are more neutral, but establishing learning and creating as priorities during social distancing is a great use of your time. It teaches your children to entertain themselves and enjoy their surroundings without the use of a screen or smartphone.
We all know sleep is important, but few of us take the time to remember how important. A good, solid sleep schedule reduces stress, decreases your risk for certain diseases, and even helps your digestive systems stay on track. But good sleep is often hard to find.
There are plenty of ways to improve sleep for the whole family. Among them are turning off all screens at least an hour before closing your eyes, as the blue light from screens can cause stimulation that keeps you up. Your brain wants signals that it’s time for bed, so creating a specific bedtime routine, such as an evening bath before reading in bed or a cup of sleepytime tea, can help you relax and wind down.
Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
Social distancing is difficult for everyone, let alone for families with children. Everyone is trying to figure things out, and there’s no playbook for something like this. When you slip up, don’t be hard on yourself. If you stay up too late one night or end up ordering pizza when you had a nice chicken and veggies meal planned, that’s okay.
We’re Here For You
Even as some restrictions are lifted, the effects of this pandemic are here to stay, at least for some time. We hope our blog brings you information that helps you and your family stay safe and healthy. For questions about our learning centers and how we’re reacting to this time, submit a contact form and we will be happy to answer any questions!