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Weeks have passed since schools have closed due to COVID-19. This has surely affected the lives of parents who had to adapt their lifestyle to be able to care for their children 24/7. Unfortunately, some parents might have lost their jobs, others can work from home whereas some are single parents and have to manage all by themselves. The realities of parents out there are varied nonetheless, parenting demands seem to have increased for all.

Living in the current situation requires adaptation in lifestyles. Children are at home all day long and parents are finding themselves having to entertain and educate their children for longer periods. Routines help to create structure and in times where we may feel like we have little control over what is happening out there, routines help us have some sense of control. Having a routine does not mean that you have to be rigid and stick precisely to the plan, being flexible is okay. When creating routines for children, allow time for structured activities e.g. reading but also for free time. Include the children whilst creating their routine as they are more likely to stick to it if they are included in the process. Remember to include time for exercise each day as this helps with stress and for the kids to use up some of their energy.

Although having a routine is important, you need to be realistic about the goals that you are setting and what you are hoping your children will achieve during the day. You need to be realistic especially when it comes to education. During this time, feeling motivated can be difficult for both adults and children. Thus, try not to overload them with schoolwork but balance it out with fun time. This is a very particular time in our lives, ask yourself how you want your children to remember it; as stressful or as fun? Children will remember all the nice activities and the time that you spent together thus, creating balance is key. You do not want your children to become lazy so it is okay to encourage them to do some house chores and to do schoolwork, but equally important is for them to engage in activities which are fun.

Finally, being with your children all the time can be very tiring thus, finding some time where you can do something you enjoy is beneficial. During their free time, e.g. when they are watching something or playing a game, do something that you enjoy. This could be just a few minutes where you have a chat with your friends or watch something yourself. Talking to other parents can also help because you can share your experiences and perhaps gain new ideas of what to do with your children. Remember, taking care of yourself will help you support your children better.

Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on marilyn@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.