3 Ways to Help Kids (and Adults!) Cope with Changes

May 15, 2020 BY Christina Gagosian, OTR-L

It’s probably an understatement to say the COVID-19 is messing with our routines. As someone who needs a schedule to be productive (or else I will just binge watch Netflix), the first few weeks of quarantine were TOUGH. Total routine disruption — with the added fear of impending doom — really affected my physical and mental well-being. So, I used my OT brain to think, “What would I recommend to families during this time?” and started applying these ideas to my life at home. While keeping in mind that it is hard to make changes and not every day will be successful, here are my top 3 strategies for staying sane during these uncertain times: 

Keep a Consistent Routine 

Keeping a schedule and sticking with it increases productivity and helps manage stress. Kids need a consistent schedule to stay regulated, learn new skills, and develop. Here are some tips: 

  • Make a visual schedule or calendar together and post it in your house where everyone can access it
  • Try to loosely follow the schedule your child had before quarantine and adapt it to your family’s needs
  • For school-aged kids, you could try a routine like this: schoolwork, movement, lunch, reading, movement, snack, chores, free time, dinner
  • For preschool school-aged kids, you could try a routine like this: movement, 1-2 structured learning activities (crafts, sensory play, letter games, puzzles), lunch, rest, movement/outside, free play, dinner

One of my clients made this super cool volcano sensory bin!

Move Everyday 

Movement does wonders for mental health and regulation. It has been so cool seeing all of the kids learning to ride bikes in my neighborhood! Here are some ways for kids to add more movement: 

  • Go for a walk. Look for bugs, smell flowers, dig in the dirt, enjoy the sun!
  • Make an obstacle course. You can use pillows, toys, the couch, towels, and chairs. Check out this post about building “couch courses” 
  • Do animal walks. Slither like a snake, walk like a bear, hop like a frog, waddle like a penguin.
  • Other ideas include: build a fort, run through a sprinkler, have a dance party, or draw an awesome sensory path with sidewalk chalk!

And Here’s One for the Adults: Self Care! 

Work/life balance can be especially challenging when working from home. Give yourself 30 minutes and do something you like—read a book, watch a show, spend quiet time outside, take a nap, call a friend, video chat with family, try a new recipe. Inspired by all of the amazing baking going on, I have attempted several cooking experiments (few of which were successful but it was fun!). 

Or be like Nuka and sunbathe on a yoga mat. You deserve it!