Families with young children
The internet is probably already your new best friend. From online storytelling to science experiments, there are so many free resources and websites to help parents cope.
Setting up video chat ‘play dates’ with friends and grandparents, via free apps like Skype and Facebook FaceTime and Zoom (although the free version gives you limited time), is a great way to keep everyone connected. For parents who need to work from home, set up a timetable for who’s working and who’s parenting and stick to it.
TOP TIP: Your patience is likely to wear thin. There will be tantrums (yours and theirs) but don’t beat yourself up about it. This is new for everyone.
Families with teenagers
This is actually the time to encourage teens with their technology. Isolation has an impact on people’s mental health and that’s particularly true for adolescents. The more connected they can feel, the better. Give each other space but spend some time together every day where any issues are set aside. Try and keep teens to a daily routine with the same sleep schedule.
TOP TIP: Keep everyone active. Put on some fun tunes and dance! Kick a ball in your backyard, skip rope on your balcony or find a free exercise video on YouTube.
Isolating alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone. You can watch movies or sport with friends and family, virtually. Reaching out to offer support to others, if you’re able, is a good way to feel less alone too. Dating apps are seeing a huge surge and many offer in-app video calls and audio dates.
TOP TIP: Know that millions are in the same boat. Facebook groups offering support and friendship from other self-isolating singles are springing up daily.
Chat about what you can do in moments where things are stressful. There will be times when you get on each other’s nerves! Try to establish a routine if you’re working from home. Don’t stay in your PJs all day and build in breaks for some time outside. Finding a new work-life balance can be hard. Set time aside for each other so work doesn’t always take precedence. If you’re not working, try to set up a schedule for exercise, reading or being on the computer alone, but eating together.
TOP TIP: Try to put any arguments on hold. Pick your battles and weigh up if they’re really worth it at the moment.
Being in isolation doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with your community. If you aren’t good on the internet, phone a friend or neighbour. There are lots of kind people dropping notes in letterboxes offering to help, so do take advantage of these. Shopping can be done online or use the special shopping hour from 7-8am where only seniors can access major supermarkets. Keep up with your that’s life! puzzles to keep your brain active. And if you get stuck, phone a friend and have a chat to work out the answer together. Also, that’s life! has a friendly community of puzzlers on our Facebook page, so why not join them?
TOP TIP: Stay as physically active as possible, even if that’s just a walk around your backyard or doing stretches and marching on the spot in front of the telly.
If you, or anyone you know, is experiencing mental health concerns or domestic abuse during this time of increased stress, there are a number of services available you can call 24 hours a day.
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 (Aus), 0800 543 354 (NZ).
- Domestic violence: 1800 737 732 (Aus), 0800 733 843 (NZ).
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (Aus), 0800 54 37 54 (NZ).
For more, see this week’s that’s life! – out now!