Coronavirus is highly contagious and totally unknown, and that provokes anxiety for most parents. But you can prepare for coronavirus with kids.
It’s the leading story in the news right now. It is on every parent’s mind. And the children are talking about it at school: the novel coronavirus: COVID-19.
How do we manage something that’s uncontrollable, novel, and unpredictable? It’s an unsettling feeling for parents. Fortunately you can take a few practical steps to prepare and gain some sense of confidence that you are ready to face the coronavirus when it hits your area.
Here are 7 practical ways you can prepare for the coronavirus with kids.
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Stay Calm about the Coronavirus and Kids
I’ll be the first to publicly admit, I got swept up into a bit of a panic about COVID-19. I’m blaming it on managing a 7 and 3 year old while dealing with postpartum hormones and the sleep deprivation of having a newborn.
The truth is: I read too much news on my phone.
My best advice to you and to me: stay off the news websites. Turn off the evening news. The news creates hysteria. They want clicks or pageviews or ratings for ad revenue so it tends to be a bit dramatic.
Information can be valuable though. So if you want to stay up-to-date, chose one source like your local newspaper, and limit yourself to reading only once per day.
Then examine the evidence: CDC evidence so far suggests that children are more likely to get a mild version of the illness that looks more like the common cold. Unless your children have an immune-issue or a breathing concern, they are not that likely to get severely sick.
Hand Washing to Prevent Coronavirus
Make sure you have the proper supplies for your children to be able to effectively wash their hands:
- Foaming hand soap: so much easier for little children to rub on their hands
- Hand towels: change these frequently so they don’t spread germs
- Stool: Make sure your child can adequately reach the sink
- Faucet extender: Help your child rinse for longer
Now is the time to supervise hand washing and practice, practice, practice with your children!
Stock Up on Non-Perishable Snacks
The last thing you want if you’re quarantined is to run out of your children’s favorite snacks. That is a battle for another day.
To prepare for the coronavirus with our kids, we stocked up on our children’s favorite treats on Amazon.
Using Target’s Drive Up service is another way to get the snacks and non-perishable items you need without actually entering a store.
Plan around Your Work
While major school districts around the country are stating they will stay open, many have also closed. You need to prepare for the possibility that your children’s schools will be closed for quarantines.
If you are a stay-at-home-parent, then you can relax a little about your children potentially being out of school for a week. However, you still have stuff you need to get accomplished around the home: laundry, cleaning, dishes, and meal preparations. So think about how you can accomplish those tasks with children around all day.
If you work outside the home, you need to come up with a plan for what to do with your children should there be no school.
- Do you have a stay-at-home-parent friend who you can pay to watch them?
- Can you swap childcare with another friend so you can have uninterrupted time to focus on half the days?
- Do you have a partner who can work from home some days?
After you’ve come up with a plan for your work, create a routine to keep your children busy.
Develop a Daily Routine
An essential way to prepare for coronavirus with kids is to have a daily routine.
If you are stuck at home in quarantine with coronavirus, or if your children are missing school because it is closed to prevent the spread, your days will be much happier and calmer with a rountine.
Routines are helpful for several reasons:
- Reduce stress for parents as decision have already been made
- Reduce anxiety for children as they will know what to expect
- Increases independence for children
- Creates boundaries around things like screen time and non-stop snack requests
- Makes clear the ending of one activity before you begin another
- Helps keep your home cleaner
Check out these posts to see how you can set up a routine when you are stuck at home:
- Surviving Winter Break with Kids | Winter Break Routine Printable
- How to Create a Summer Routine for Kids – free printable
Plan Your Activities
To prepare for coronvirus with kids, you’re going to need an arsenal of activities to keep everyone busy. There will be a time when everyone has cabin fever and you are about to lose your mind.
If you’re going to be cooped up at home, think through the activities your children can do. Grab a piece of paper and walk around your house. List any activities you have that you can pull out for the kids.
Now is the time to purchase any supplies you might need and I linked several of them for you in the activities below.
All of these simple activities are really just play prompts. They are open-ended set-ups that invite your kids to play or create when they are feeling stuck. Here are some of our favorites:
- Daniel Tiger figures
- small plastic shoe box (from Target)
- dish soap (any brands works)
- vegetable scrubbers (sanitize them in the dishwasher after each use)
Stuffie Tea Party
This play prompt is the easiest: grab a stuffed animal and your plastic food or toy tea set.
In this activity, the children can create a block city with roads, tunnels, and bridges for the cats.
- Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Block
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden ABC/123 Blocks Set
- Hot Wheels Cars
I could do a commercial for Crayola washable products. I love that I can just get out the paints and let my children create without worry. It cleans up so easily and doesn’t stain.
This Alex Busy Box has tons of great projects. I like to also just set out the supplies and let my children create.
Explain about the Virus to Your Children
If you’re worried, your children will likely be worried too. This is how I’ve explained it to my children:
“Yes, there is a new virus. We can try to keep healthy by washing our hands.”
Now, my family was already fanatical about hand washing prior to the virus spreading to the United States because we had a new baby on February 1. Plus we’ve been using the hand washing printable chart for over a year. But my husband and I are even more vigilant now.
We also explained that we are avoiding crowds and groups. So besides going to school and doctor’s appointments, our children aren’t going anywhere for now. We explained this change in routine is temporary.
If your routine has changed or will change, be upfront. Use brief, simple sentences. Use a neutral yet confident voice.
PBS KIDS has some really good information about explaining about Coronavirus to children, too.
Recapping how to Prepare for Coronavirus with Kids
Here’s the summary for all you busy parents:
- Stay calm and examine the facts
- Practice good hand washing with your children
- Stock up on non-perishable food
- Make a plan for your work (if applicable)
- Develop a daily routine if you’re quarantined
- Plan your Activities for quaratine
- Explain the virus to your children
Remember, the coronavirus pandemic is temporary. We don’t know if we’re dealing with it for weeks or months, but it will eventually end.
The world doesn’t really know how bad COVID-19 is yet. But there are advanced in science and medicine all the time. It will get better. You are resilient.
For now, focus on what you can control: you can prepare for coronavirus with kids.
What are you doing to get ready?