In this new and evolving (but not permanent) COVID-19 world in which we are living, it is very likely that if you or a member of your family or household are living with diabetes, you will now be self-isolating at home or in total lockdown. If this is the case, and it is becoming an increasingly likely scenario for everyone, your life might suddenly feel very lonely and a million miles from your “norm”. This can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, unhappiness, seclusion and detachment.
Stress and diabetes do not mix. It can raise blood glucose levels, increase insulin resistance and elevate blood pressure if not well managed. Therefore it is important to reduce stress levels and monitor and manage emotional, psychological and social well-being over the coming weeks and/or months while the world retreats into COVID-19 isolation.
Being confined to your home during quarantine can be a challenge in itself – but for families who are currently isolating with children, it can be even more of a testing time both physically and emotionally for everyone in the family and household.
As parents, we will no doubt face an array of challenges in trying to keep our little ones safe, entertained, home schooled and happy during this time. However, it is a good time to remind ourselves to enjoy the extra time with our children because they grow up so quickly, and we may never have this quality time at home with them again.
Diabetes WA have put together some tips and suggestions to help you reduce household stress levels and to help you navigate and ensure that your little humans are feeling OK and coping with the sudden changes to their routine, family life and the world around them:
- Spend time talking to them about what is going on at an age–appropriate level. Look for their themes of play to identify fears and feelings.
- Expect kids to misbehave and struggle with changes to routine during periods of isolation. Don’t introduce new behavioural consequences and plans now – keep as much routine and stability as possible. Lower your expectations of your children – these are extraordinary times and we are all doing our best.
- Strengthen connections with children with reassurance and time spent – physical touch, play, chats, books, craft etc.
- If you’re home schooling, whether it is one child or multiple children in different year levels, try to stick to the school routine as much as possible. For example, start and finish school at the same time, set an alarm and timer for recess and lunch breaks, and try to have a plan that lays out what you want them to do during the day. Most schools are providing lesson plans for parents, as well as worksheets and educational material, so try to draw from these resources as much as possible. If your child has trouble focusing or is too distracted, take a break and head outside (sticking to your property) for some fresh air. Remember – do the best you can and don’t be too hard on yourself if the day doesn’t go to plan.
- Limit conversations about COVID-19 and avoid exposing them to ongoing media coverage.
- Keep your kids connected to family and their friends via phone, text, Facetime, Skype etc. Staying socially connected is just as important for children as it is for adults, particularly when they are too young to have their own phone. Arrange a playdate with their besties via Facetime, Zoom, Google Houseparty or Skype. Let them watch a film with a friend via Netflix Party. These is no reason for them to feel disconnected.
- Stick to your child/children’s regular routines as best you can – keep bedtime, bath time, meals, snacks to the usual times.
- Keep those munchkins moving and active. Wear them out. There are endless ideas on YouTube and online for exercise regardless of age and ability. Get them dancing, trampolining, walking, cleaning, gardening, sweeping – whatever it takes to keep them active.
- Allocate each child their own individual, personal space where they can retreat when necessary. If they share a bedroom, create a special corner in a room or a cubby house so everyone know it is theirs and theirs alone.
- Hold your tongue, give them a chance and avoid confrontation where possible. Being cooped up and spending excessive time together can fray nerves and bring out the worst in people. Understand that everyone will have their “moments and moods” during quarantine.
- If you’re looking for more inspiration on how to keep your children amused each day, social media and blogs are often full of interesting ideas. Follow parenting experts such as Maggie Dent on Facebook or blogs such as Kid Spot, which are brimming with ways to keep things fresh and interesting for your children if you’re short on ideas.
If you are struggling while in quarantine and want someone to talk to, not-for-profit mental health organisations like Beyond Blue can provide assistance. Mental health professionals are available on the Beyond Blue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat between 12pm-9pm WST or email responses within 24 hours.