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What to do with your Host Kids during the quarantine

by Maryann & Felicia on Mar 24, 2020
What to do with your kids during the quarantine
For a few weeks now, the world has been experiencing a major health crisis. This is having a huge impact on our daily lives and habits. More than 1.7 billion people are currently in quarantine and can’t leave their homes except for special necessities. Our everyday life has completely changed and this can be complicated to explain to children. Moreover, in many countries, schools and public places such as libraries, restaurants or even cinemas are closed and concerts and sporting events are cancelled. The children are at home all day long and finding ideas to entertain the children during these hard times of quarantine is not always easy. In this blog post, you'll find tips on how to deal with this situation with children and ideas on how to make sure they never get bored. 

How to handle the situation with the Host Kids?

As everyone right now, you are experiencing an unforeseeable situation, something that nobody was expecting and that is extremely difficult to handle. Not only have you to deal with this concern, but you also have to continue your job as an Au Pair. Now more than ever, you will realize the importance of your presence within the Host Family.
 
The Host Parents have probably already spoken with their kids regarding the coronavirus. Schools have been closed for one week or even more in some countries, and an explanation about what is happening was necessary. Nonetheless, as an Au Pair you are not excluded from this burden and even if you are concerned about your own family and friends, this is the moment to show your Host Kids that you are there for them. It’s not easy, of course, but you must understand how important you are right now. 
 
As a bigger sister or bigger brother, you are the person the kids speak to when they have some doubts or “silly” questions. Moreover, the amount of time you have spent with them has increased their level of confidence, which is absolutely different from the one they have with their parents. That’s why they may feel more encouraged to talk to you about their fears and anxiety in general. Make them know that stress and anxiety are normal and that they should talk about their feelings whenever they want. Encourage communication!
So, the first thing to do is not to avoid the topic. Their awareness about the current events changes according to their age, but there is no point in hiding the situation. Even if they can’t understand the news, kids are able to perceive the abrupt change in the family’s routine and they can be really traumatized by it.
 
Once we’ve agreed with that, you should be ready to answer their questions. In order to do that, you should make sure you are well informed about the topic. Read news from reliable sources only and do not believe in every post you see in social media. Use this opportunity to teach your Host Kids about fake news, more dangerous than the virus itself. When you talk to them, try to stay calm and relaxed. Kids are very smart and they can smell uncertainty at 1 km distance. Breath, keep a steady tone of voice and be ready for the why questions.
 
Kids have an enviable fantasy. So, make sure you give them the right amount of information they need, without leaving out too many details, otherwise, they’ll start imagining the worst scenario ever. You can provide them with concrete details so that they can understand that the virus is not an invisible enemy. It’s easier to picture it as something alive: show them pictures of bacteria and viruses at the microscope or talk about “germs” and “bugs”. Of course, your main goal is to reassure them but this doesn’t mean underestimating the virus: instead of focusing on the number of deaths, talk about the ones who got better thanks to very simple steps (washing their hands for example). You can also tell them all the positive stories we are hearing these days: the strength of our doctors and nurses, people who are working no stops in the supermarkets, restaurants which are cooking for the people in need. You are their filter!
 
If you are discussing the topic with the Host Family during dinner time, involve the children in the conversation. They can feel that they play an active part in it and that what they do is incredibly important in order to prevent the virus from spreading: wash their hands, help clean the house etc. Many psychologists suggest that children shouldn’t watch the news that often. If you get anxious about being constantly bombed with news about the COVID-19, imagine their effect on the kids!
 
The main change in the kids’ life has been the absence of their daily routine. Not going to school anymore, nor playing with their friends and doing sports can be a real trauma for them. It’s important to underline the necessity of these measures, though, to make everybody feel better. Moreover, you should try to recreate their routine or offer them the same routine as they were on holidays. Helping them with their homework as if they have to go to school can be a good idea.
 
Last but not least, explain to them the importance of hygiene. This is a struggle for every kid but the current situation has made it even more important. Associate the hygiene routines with songs and activities and everything will be easier for them and don’t forget to give them positive reinforcement! If you want to read what the Unicef said about the topic, click here.

How to keep children entertained during the quarantine? 

Teaching children efficient hygiene practices

This health crisis is an opportunity for children to learn the right ways to do to protect themselves - and others - from diseases. Handwashing is the first thing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been many instructive videos for children on the Internet that show how effective handwashing is. You can experiment with them in a playful way to make them understand that handwashing scares bacteria away, for example. 

Teach them about news topics

Children are always very curious, they love to learn new things and ask lots of questions, even questions that can't be answered. What you can do is ask them to tell you something they would like to learn more about and every day you discuss it a little bit. You can even make little games to help them understand. 

Cooking 

You like to cook but you can't find the time between taking care of the children, discovering a new culture, going out with your friends and travelling? Take advantage of this quarantine to do so! Besides, kids love it. You can try out lots of different recipes and it's an opportunity for you to let your host kids discover the specialities of your country! It's also a good way for them to learn to respect doses and follow a recipe while having fun. And guess what, we have already published an article with tips for cooking with children. Moreover, cooking is also a moment of conviviality where it is an opportunity to get together as a family, laugh and talk about everything and nothing. Take advantage of the meal to get together and share your emotions. 

Reading 

In most houses, there are always lots of books that have never been read and are just waiting for it. You can choose a book with the children and set yourself the challenge to finish it within a week, for example. It will also help you to improve the language of the country!

Making video calls with friends or family

Social distancing is required to stop the progression of the Coronavirus. It is not recommended - even forbidden in many countries - to go out to see friends or even to visit grandparents. Playdate in a park is therefore not possible, but that doesn't mean that you can't organize them! You can contact another Au Pair and organize a video call between the children. They can chat and play games while you are talking with your Au Pair friend. You can also simply call the grandparents to make sure that everyone is doing well and that it doesn't prevent them from seeing the children grow up during these weeks of quarantine. 

Making creative activities

One of the words that best describe children is creativity. They love to try new things and do manual activities. You can create DIY, draw, do arts and crafts, make origami, do a puzzle, etc... If you're running out of ideas, you'll find plenty on websites like Pinterest! You can also play board games such as Connect 4, Uno, Guess Who, card games or you can even create your own board game. Since the quarantine is likely to last several weeks, you can play a tournament for the duration and see at the end who was the best! 

Sports 

Who says staying home means not playing sports? Children always want to move around and staying at home all day is not easy for them either. You can do sports together, such as yoga or the gym. You can also dance with videos on Youtube. If you have a garden, you can also play tag, trampolining, play hide and seek (this can be done in the house too), etc. At the end of the day they will be more tired and it will be easier to put them to bed! 
 
Here are our tips to handle the current situation with the children and making sure none of you gets bored and that you all have a good time. If you have other ideas for activities to do with the kids, please feel free to share them!
My journey to become an Au Pair in the USAby Maryann on 17 Mar, 2020Read More »
Easter during Coronaby Felicia on 07 Apr, 2020Read More »
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