On 20th November it is World Children’s Day, a UN-recognised international day to “promote togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare”. This year, perhaps more than any other in the 66 years since World Children’s Day was first established, children around the world are facing a common challenge. The coronavirus pandemic has closed schools, made playing with friends and family difficult if not illegal and brought health anxieties to the heart of every home around the world. At Lime, we know there isn’t much we can do to help, but we’re always keen to try so we’ve pulled together some of the internet’s best tips and tricks for keeping children happy and healthy as the pandemic in the UK rolls on into winter.
1. Keep busy.
Although schools are officially open, children are going to be stuck at home more often than normal. Many activities and attractions are closed, and hanging out with friends is off-limits outside of the playground. Plus of course, many children across the country will be self-isolating at home. So, keeping children of whatever age occupied is going to be top of the list for most parents. Here is a round up of some of the best resources the internet has to offer:
· Save the Children’s Guide to Keeping Kids Entertained with ideas and videos from dancing to cooking.
· Crafting kits at the ready, here is Good Housekeeping’s 50 Fun DIY Activities, tonnes of ideas for a wide range of ages and interests.
· Many local libraries will allow you to borrow e-books as well as running online activities. Find yours here.
· The James Dyson Foundation has a list of great STEM related challenges for kids to try out at home here.
· BBC Good Food has a whole load of kid-friendly recipes to try out too!
· Plus almost all of the big museums in cities across the country have excellent resources to help entertain and inform families during lockdown. For example, here is the Natural History Museum in London’s suggestions for family-friendly activities. Why not google your favourite museum and see what they’re doing?
2. Keep active.
A winter lockdown poses more problems for parents trying to give their kids opportunities to run around outside. However, it’s really important for children to get opportunities to exercise (and have fun) so if you can, invest in some wellies, waterproofs and perhaps even a torch for an after school outdoor adventure. Here are some ideas for burning off all that energy:
· Lots of public places are still open. The National Trust, Woodland Trust, Forestry England, English Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and Cadw the Welsh historic environment service all have a number of sites still open during lockdown, plus of course there are local parks and thousands of miles of public footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing the country which are free and easy to use. (N.B. please check with local guidelines before you travel to one of these sites.)
· Even a walk around your local street could be exciting for young children, why not make a game out of puddle jumping, searching for mini beasts or even spotting Christmas lights as they start to go up in December.
· The NHS Change 4 Life campaign has some great games and indoor activity ideas on their website here, including activities designed for disabled children.
3. Keep listening.
It’s natural that many children will be feeling more anxious during the pandemic.There has been a lot of scary headlines combined with a great deal of uncertainty and big changes. Luckily, there are some great resources out thereto help families listen, talk and support each other:
· The Mental Health Foundation Scotland has produced a “Time for Us” activity pack to get adults and children talking about their feelings. You can read it here.
· The Reading Agency has produced a guide to books that help children to stay “safe, calm, connected and hopeful” through the pandemic, including many free downloads and videos. You can download it here.
· The NSPCC has produced a guide to talking to a child who is worried about Covid-19 here.
· While Barnardo's has produced a guide specifically for teenagers coping with lockdown.
4. Keep calm and carry on.
It won’t just be children who are feeling anxious, parents too have had a difficult year and it’s important to remember that, as the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Cut yourself some slack, these are extraordinary times and parenting is, perhaps now more than ever, about doing the best we can, with what we have. Remember to recharge your own batteries too so that you can keep calm and carry on:
· Make time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you need some time out.
· Make time for things that buoy you up. It could be watching TV, making a nice meal or chatting to a friend. While it may be difficult to spend time with friends as we are used to, there are ways and means whether it’s virtually or face-to-face (where guidelines allow). If something usually makes you feel good, it’s worth making the effort.
· Try something new. What about giving mindfulness a go? It’s about being more aware of the present moment which can help give some perspective and is recommended by NICE as a way to prevent depression. You can learn more about mindfulness here. Also, take a look at our recent blog post about Forest Bathing for a fun way to try out mindfulness in nature.
· Recognise if you are struggling and get some support. The NHS Every Mind Matters website has some great resources available here. If you’re feeling really low then do make an appointment to speak to your GP and if you need urgent support, you can find details of who to reach out to here.