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Staying at home with children

Even though coronavirus restrictions are starting to ease, we are all spending more time at home than we usually would and it can be difficult to keep everyone happy. But there are things you can do to make it a little easier. This is a difficult time, but with a little structure you and your kids can get through this and make the most of this time together. You might even have the chance to do things you don’t usually have time for.

You can find the latest advice on coronavirus on the NHS Inform website.

Tips for your time at home

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

You could do spelling in the morning and counting after lunch. You can read our tips for helping support your kids' learning here, and we've put together some useful resources for learning at home here.

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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 the coronavirus page.  

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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.

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Tip #9: Play games as a family

There is no end to the family games you can all play together.

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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

Let them have time to speak to their friends on video chat and check in with any elderly relatives too.

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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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Look after yourself

There is no point pretending that this isn’t a strange and difficult time. 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.

Remember, this situation won’t last forever and you might one day look back fondly on this time you spent together as a family.

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

Mental health advice for parents during coronavirus

Mental health support for new mums

Supporting your child’s mental health during coronavirus

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

What happens about work?

Our page on working from home has tips on how you can balance work and looking after the kids, while our page on returning to work has information on your rights if you're going back to the workplace.

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

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!

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