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Shelter-In-Place Strategies

“PARdon Me” – a blog series by Laura Duke, CPNP, IBCLC

PARdon me…but how is your shelter-in-place family time going?  Families are spending an unprecedented amount of time together, often in close quarters.  This can be a blessing AND a challenge.  Routine, purpose and a lot of grace can help us navigate this time. 

The internet is filled with ideas and recommendations for families sheltering in and learning from home.  One very common theme is the importance of routine.  When things are turned upside down, routines can help maintain some sense of normalcy.  Encourage members of your family to make their beds.  Get up in the morning and shower and dress as if you are going to school or work. 

Nutrition and sleep are keys to staying healthy.  Eat regular, balanced meals and maintain sleep routines.  Let your kids be involved planning menus and helping in the kitchen.  Make a game out of trying new foods.  Make a rainbow chart and have your picky eater fill it with the colorful foods he or she has tried. 

Keep bedtimes similar or consistent.  Good sleep hygiene is essential.  Bedrooms should be cool and dark.  As always, the bedroom should be a screen free zone.  A 2016 review article in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics found that children 6 to 19 years old with “media device presence in the bedroom (even without use) was associated with an increased odds of detrimental sleep outcomes,” (i.e. inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness). 

Having a purpose to your day helps kids and parents with the monotony of sheltering in.  Dr. Lori Evans of Doctor Radio’s show “About Our Kids” encourages everyone to have four goals for their day:

  1. Do something SOCIAL
  2. Do something ACTIVE
  3. Do something FUN
  4. Do something PRODUCTIVE

I’ll expand on these four in next week’s blog post, but I would also add Do something FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

It is easy for us to focus on our own situations and mourn what we are missing.  Encourage your child to reach out to someone else.  Call an isolated family member.  Send artwork to members of a local nursing home that may not have other family.  Chalk messages on your driveway or sidewalk for neighbors.  Leave a card for your postal worker or delivery person.  Do something nice for your brother or sister.  Surprise them by making their bed.  Play a game that they pick. 

This sounds like a lot and can be overwhelming.  Help is available.  The healthychildren.org resource I referenced last week is constantly updating content. https://thevillage.org/covid-19-resources/ is full of activities for kids as well as resources for parents. 

At the end of the day, give yourself some grace.  You can not take care of your family if you do not take care of yourself.  It takes human beings to raise human children.  No one is perfect.  Waking up every day striving to make the best of sheltering in for your family is a noble goal.  We are here for you.

Until next week, PARdon me…

-Laura

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