Coronavirus (COVID-19): managing physical distancing or self-isolation in your family
If you and your children are physical distancing or self-isolating, you’re helping to reduce your family’s risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). You’re also helping to protect your friends, your extended family and your community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
It’s natural to have questions about how your family can manage physical distancing and self-isolation. Our tips and links below can answer your questions and help you navigate this experience.
Children will cope better if they have accurate, age-appropriate information about coronavirus (COVID-19), plus opportunities to talk about it. Talking with children is one of the ways you can promote family wellbeing during physical distancing. You can get ideas in our articles on talking with children about physical distancing and talking with teenagers about physical distancing.
What do I do about family routines during physical distancing and self-isolation?
Stick with routines if you can. Routines help children feel safe and secure, especially when things are stressful or when children are going through difficult experiences:
- Family routines: how and why they work
- New family routines: when, why and how to make them
- Daily routines for your family: four steps
- Using routines to manage behaviour
Did you know that family meetings can help you and your children talk about how you’ll handle changes to family life?
How do I keep my children active?
The easiest way to keep children and teenagers active is to make physical activity part of everyday play and family life:
- Physical activity for young children
- Physical activity for school-age children
- Physical activity for older children and teenagers
- Using screen time to encourage physical activity
If you can, make outdoor play at home or a local outdoor area part of your family’s routine during physical distancing and self-isolation. If you can get outside and be active with your children, it’s good for everyone.
How do I help my children to keep eating well?
The best way to send healthy food messages to children and teenagers is by letting them see you make healthy eating choices every day:
- Healthy eating habits for children
- Healthy eating habits for teenagers
- Healthy drinks for kids and teenagers
If you’re at home together during physical distancing and self-isolation, regular family meals are perfect times to check in with each other about how you’re going. You might find that family meals are more enjoyable if the TV and phones aren’t invited!
How can I make sure my children get enough good-quality sleep?
If you and your children stick to your regular routines for going to bed and getting up in the morning, it’ll help you all get enough good-quality sleep:
All children can have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep at times. Simple lifestyle changes and behaviour strategies can help with some sleep problems.
How can I keep my children entertained?
Keeping children entertained can be about spending special time together. And the great news is that this can happen while you’re doing everyday things like folding the laundry, going for a walk, playing board games, reading books and more. Here are some ideas:
- Enjoying time with your child
- Activity guides for young children
- Play ideas: videos
- Reading and storytelling with babies and children
- Ebooks for children: 2-8 years
- Cooking with kids and teenagers
A family movie night can be a treat during physical distancing and self-isolation. Search more than 1000 movie reviews of newer releases and old favourites by genre, classification and age to find the right movie for your family.
How can I make sure my children use screens in healthy ways?
Screen use can be part of a healthy lifestyle during physical distancing and self-isolation. The key things are that children enjoy a variety of activities, both with and without screens, and that they use quality content:
- Preschooler screen time: tips for balance
- School-age screen time: tips for balance
- Teenage screen time: tips for balance
- Managing screen time: strategies for children 3-11 years
- Managing screen time: strategies for teenagers
Did you know that sharing screen time with children builds your relationship and helps children learn? And, of course, sharing screen time with your children can be fun!
How can I manage sibling conflict?
Disagreements and fights among children are very common. Conflict with children is common too, especially as children get older. Conflict can be a great chance for your children to practise social skills and for you to be a problem-solving role model:
- Preventing sibling fights: eight tips
- Handling sibling fights
- Teenage sibling fighting
- Teenage sibling fighting: options
- Conflict management with teenagers
You can help your children stay connected with friends and schoolmates during physical distancing and self-isolation. For example, children of all ages can use video chat apps. Older children and teenagers can make the most of social media. And why not get some postcards, writing paper and stamps, so children can stay connected the old-fashioned way?
I’m worried about my children’s mental health. What should I do?
It’s natural for children and teenagers to have ups and downs during challenging experiences. But sometimes children don’t ‘bounce back’ from the downs, and this starts to affect other parts of their lives. This can be a sign of mental health problems:
- Mental health problems: children 3-8 years
- Anxiety and fears in children
- Anxiety in teenagers
- Depression in children: 3-8 years
- Pre-teen and teenage depression
There are lots of things you can do to support your children’s mental health at home, including a family focus on positive thinking. There are also many support services that can help your children, including Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, and eheadspace on 1800 650 890.
I’m worried about my mental health. What should I do?
Caring for children during physical distancing and self-isolation is a big and important job. It’s natural to worry about managing this situation. Seeking support is good for you and your children, especially if you’re struggling with any of these issues:
- Stress and stress management: grown-ups
- Dealing with anxiety: tips for parents
- Anger and anger management for parents
- Conflict management for parents
If you need support, your GP is a good place to start. They might offer phone consultations. You can also call your state or territory parenting helpline, Lifeline on 131 114, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, and the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
My child has additional needs. How can I handle physical distancing and self-isolation?
Many of our tips for typically developing children can help children with additional needs too, although you might need to adapt some things. Here are more ideas for children with additional needs: