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Staying at home with children during coronavirus

Most of us have spent much more time at home than ever this year. And with the winter restrictions we’ll have to spend even more. We have some advice to help keep you and your children happy and active during this time.

When should my family self-isolate during coronavirus?

You should isolate if ANY of the following apply to you:

  • You or anyone in your household has any of the symptoms of coronavirus. Everyone in the household should isolate until the symptomatic person/people has been tested and has received the results.
  • You or anyone in your household has tested positive for coronavirus. The person with symptoms should continue to isolate for 10 days. Everyone else in the household should also isolate for 10 days
  • You are contacted by Test and Protect. If you are contacted by Test and Protect as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you should isolate for 10 days. If you have any symptoms, you should get a test. However even if the results are negative, you must isolate for the full 10 days.

Anyone who has travelled overseas must self-isolate for 10 days unless you’ve travelled from a country on the quarantine exemption list. This means staying in your accommodation, even if you don’t have symptoms, to help control coronavirus and to comply with the guidance. You can find out more on the Scottish Government website.

If you’re self-isolating, you shouldn’t leave your home at all. You can find out more about what to do when you’re self-isolating on the NHS Inform website.

If you’ve been told to self-isolate by Test and Protect, you may be eligible for a Self-Isolation Support Grant. On 7 December the rules for claiming this grant changed so that:

  • you can now claim if you are unable to work because one of your children has to self-isolate from school or nursery
  • you can now claim even if you don’t receive universal credit, but your local authority believes you would receive it if you applied for it.

Local protection measures during coronavirus

There are 5 new COVID-19 protection levels (0-4) in place in Scotland. These levels set out measures that can be applied nationally or locally, depending on the number of coronavirus cases across Scotland. You can find out more about the levels here.

From midnight on 4 January, if you are currently in a level 4 area, you must stay at home as much as possible. This means you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose.

The rules on meeting up are also changing, so only 2 people from 2 households can meet outdoors. You can find out more about the stay at home changes on the website.

What happens about school?

If your family has to self-isolate you should let your child’s school know as soon as possible. The school will let you know how they can support you during this time. For example, they may send them work to be done at home, or include them in online lessons.

If schools need to close or move to a ‘blended learning’ model where not all pupils attend at the same time, they will let you know. They will have plans in place so your children can continue with their schoolwork at home. You can find out more about how to support your child if blended learning is introduced here.

You can read our tips for helping support younger kids' and teenagers’ learning here, and we've put together some useful resources for learning at home here.

What happens about work?

If you’re able to work from home, you can find tips on how to balance this with looking after the kids here

If you’ve been told you must self-isolate because you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus and you can’t work from home, those who are eligible are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. There’s more information about this on the ACAS website. You may also be eligible for a Self-Isolation Support Grant.

You can find advice on your rights if you can’t go to work on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

Tips making your time at home easier

Tip #1: Structure your day

If the kids aren't in school or you're working from home, it’s easy for your day to lack structure. You can help make the time spent at home feel normal, and give your day structure by doing many of the things you usually do. This is important as you might find the day drags, and dividing it up will keep you and your children busy being productive and having fun even when they can't visit friends or family as much as they'd like to.

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Tip #2: Get up and get dressed

Getting up at your usual time and getting dressed will help you all feel more normal.

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Tip #3: Make a plan

Get your kids to help you make it colourful and fun. Put it up where everyone can see it.

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Tip #4: Be flexible

Having a plan is great but don’t worry if you don’t always stick to the schedule.

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Tip #5: Set specific times to do any schoolwork

If your children can’t go to school, the school should send them work to do at home, or include them in online lessons. If you set specific times for them to do this, broken up by snacks, meals, exercise and play, this will help them get on with this. 

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Tip #6: Have consistent mealtimes

We all know how easy it is to snack when we’re in the house. Keeping your kids' mealtimes consistent helps structure the day and can even help your little ones’ mood – as well as stop them pestering you for snacks!

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Tip #7: Make sure and exercise

Kids need to burn off energy unless they’re unwell. This could be anything from running around the garden to watching a dance video and learning the moves. Games like musical statues are a good idea to use some energy. We have lots of great tips and games on our staying active during coronavirus page.  

Our page on sport, play and children's activities explains what you can and can’t do depending on the restrictions in your area.

Remember, if you’re self-isolating you shouldn’t leave your home at all, even to exercise. However, if you have a private garden it’s fine to spend time there.

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Tip #8: Get them to help at home

This could be the perfect time for them to learn what it takes to run a household. Maybe teach them some chores and give them a specific job they need to do, like putting away the dishes or helping hang up clothes. Our page on getting them to help around the house has more ideas.

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Tip #9: Play games as a family

You may feel you’ve spent quite enough time altogether already, but try to look at this as a good opportunity to play some games together as a family. Here are some ideas of games and activities to help you pass the time:

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Tip #10: Have some quiet time

Set nap times if your wee ones still need it, or set a time where you relax and read a story together.

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Tip #11: Make use of video chat

By now we’ve all become experts at video chat. As well as using it to keep up with your friends and family, let the kids have time to speak to their friends as well.

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Tip #12: Kids rule for 20 minutes

Well not really! But let them be in charge of what you do for a little bit every day. They can choose something fun for you all to do together at home. Letting them feel in charge and giving them some undivided attention will mean they are more likely to play alone nicely afterwards – giving you a chance to get on with things.

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Tip #13: Have fun at the weekend

Treat the weekend as break time and don’t worry too much about the schedule. Let them stay in their pyjamas and watch a film or play games together.

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Looking after yourself

There is no point pretending that self-isolation isn't difficult and frustrating. And you may feel so busy looking after everyone else that you forget to look after yourself. It’s important that you find time for you when possible, and to look after your own wellbeing.

We have some useful advice on looking after you and your child’s mental health during this time:

You can also find advice on the Mind website about coronavirus and your wellbeing.

Time to play

One of the best things you can do for your children just now is give them space to play. Playing is vitally important for their emotional development, keeps them physically healthy, and lets them make sense of the world around them.

You may feel lots of pressure to keep up with their school work and to structure their day around different activities. But giving them freedom to let their imaginations go and to free play is one of the best things for them. They may make a mess and be noisy, but playing is helping their minds and bodies grow. You can even join in!

Our page on helping children through play has more information.

Being a parent is the best job in the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There will be days when it all feels a little too much. To help you manage the challenges ahead, Parent Club has some tips on coping with being a parent and keeping calm with your wee one so you can build a rewarding relationship together.

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

Gif of animated character getting frustrated