How are your kids handling social distancing?

It has been over 5 months since the world shut down due to COVID-19. Although things are starting to open up many families are still being very cautious about who they are getting together with.

I'm curious to know how this has all affected your family? How are your kids handling social distancing?

Every child handles stress differently, some may be extra clingy or whine, others may be irritable. Older children may close up and be more quiet. What is important is to remember that our children are just as stressed as adults and need help navigating these big feelings. - Meaghan Jackson

For my boys it started off just fine. In fact they were happy to have a break from our busy schedule.  This then led to boredom and missing their friends. After a few months I noticed the older two were more depressed and the youngest was acting out. I'll give you some tips for what we've been doing to help near the end. Each of my boys has responded differently.

My youngest couldn't understand why his friends stoped coming to our house for playgroup. He was mad that we stopped going to activities and a little scared because it was hard to understand what the grown ups were talking about. I wrote more about his feelings here.

My middle son has really disliked zoom calls. He finds it difficult to navigate the flow of the conversation with internet lags, breaks and not picking up on physical cues. He has chosen not to participate in anything online (aside from Netflix and video games of course). This has made it very difficult to meet his social needs. We have created a Kids Messenger account but he isn't really interested in that. It is often hard for kids to come up with things to talk about. So, he has been stuck with just his brothers for the most part, and is sick of them. His annoyance and patience is wearing thin.

My older son has been doing well with zoom calls. He joins me once a week for our co-op that I moved online. His youth group has also been meeting weekly online too so he is getting to see his friends that way. Although we have been a relatively limited screens family, I compromised with the pandemic. TJ has been gaming with two friends daily. It has been a lot of fun and looks forward to chatting and playing with friends. Outside of this though, he is bored. Both older boys have said there is jus nothing to look forward to each week. We have tried to add in some fun theme days, but they miss the interaction with others.

So what have we done to help?

Make a list of ideas to get our of your funk. When I noticed the boys were just not themselves, I made a list of ideas to get us out of the funk. I hoped that would motivate us to keep going an help with their attitudes. We even made a pretty poster chart to hang on the wall.

  • Connect with someone outside our family
  • Get off our property
  • Mindfulness
  • Help someone 
  • Do something fun
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Tidy a small area
  • Pray

Social distance play dates are great if you feel comfortable with that. We have been able to get out to the beach and creek with close friends. We found that if there is something for the kids to explore, they are engaged and do not need to be in close contact. Do what you feel works for your family. So are creating a bubble or small circle of friends, others are choosing to keep their distance. Even a change of scenery with your own family is good.

Talking more about feelings has been a regular habit. Allowing the boys to vent and share how they feel is much better than bottling it all up.  I have lots of blog posts about feelings. But I wanted to share that recognizing our kids are under stress, softens your heart towards them. We try to work on mindfulness activities like positive affirmations, yoga and breathing.

Strengthen your faith if that aligns with your family values. For our family as Christians we recognized that we needed God's help to get us through this tough time. We have been praying more often, and finding verses that offer comfort and encouragement.

Finally we lowered our expectations a little. It is now summer after all and if we just focus on our mental health and bringing some joy back into our days that will create some fantastic summer memories. The house isn't perfect (but then no one is coming by to visit). The school work is more relaxed (but they are still learning all the time). It is all about realizing your limitations and working on what you can.

This news segment we are featured in ties so well with this topic

Don't let social distancing lead to emotional distancing. Reach out, open up and let people in. We may not be able to be with each other right now, but we can still be there for each other. - Lori Deschene

How about your family? Share in the comments about how you are doing. What has helped? Where are you struggling?

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