In this webcast of the Nature Careers webinar program, now available for viewing on demand, scientists describe their experiences working from home and caring for children while labs and offices were closed during the epidemic. What advice do they have for staying healthy and productive?
An-laur Mahul Mellier, a neurobiologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, talks about juggling and parenting responsibilities during the first month of the epidemic. She remembers switching between a zoom call and her children, as each caught her attention.
Next, we hear from a single parent and postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen. Antica Culina describes how she adjusted her goals to help maintain the structure in her personal and professional lives.
“It is very important that people are comfortable about disclosing their position to others. My coworkers know that I am a single mother and sometimes not at work because I have something else to deal with, ”says Kulina. “We need to teach ourselves that others will understand our situation.”
Finally, Jeremy Grabbe, a psychologist at the State University of New York Plattsburgh, described how he used the scientific process to help his children understand the epidemic – which allayed their initial concerns. The session ended with Q&A.
This webcast was screened live in July 2020, and was part of a series developed to support researchers navigating the epidemic.
Fear, uncertainty, and over-spread in the home can make it harder for families to maintain peace in order to slow down. But it is important to help children feel safe, have healthy routines, manage their emotions and behavior, and build resilience.
Here are some tips from the American Academy (AAP) to help protect your family from the stress of the epidemic. He said that the government has taken several steps to prevent such incidents.
Address children’s fears
Children rely on their parents for both physical and emotional protection. Reassure your children that you are there for them and your family will get it together.
Answer questions about the epidemic simply and honestly. Talk with children about any horrific news they hear. It is okay to say that people are getting sick, but remind them that following safety steps such as washing hands, wearing clothes, covering face and staying indoors will keep your family healthy.
Recognize your child’s feelings. Calmly says, for example, “I can see that you are upset because you can’t have a sleepover with your friends right now.” Guiding questions can help older children and teens work through issues. (I know it’s not hopeless. Being able to do some of the things you did before the epidemic. What other ways can you have fun with your friends?)
Stay in touch with loved ones. Children may also worry about a grandparent who is living alone or has an increased risk of being a relative or friend. When safe, physically disordered seizures are not possible, video chats can help ease their anxiety.
The way to manage emotions. Talk about how you are handling your emotions. (“I’m worried about Grandma because I can’t go to visit her. I’ll put a reminder on my phone to call her in the morning and afternoon until it’s safe to see her.”)
Tell your child before leaving home for work or necessary chores. In a calm and reassuring voice, tell them where you are going, how long you will leave, when you will return, and that you are taking steps to stay safe.
To hope. Tell them that scientists are working hard to figure out how to help sick people, how to prevent it, and that things will get better.
Extra hugs and say “I love you” more often.
Keep a healthy routine
During an epidemic, it is more important than ever to maintain sleep and other routines. They evoke a sense of order for the day which gives assurance in very uncertain times. All children, including teenagers, benefit from routines that are sufficiently flexible to meet individual needs.
A word about bed
Children often have more trouble falling asleep during any stressful period. Try to keep a normal night routine for small children such as book, brush, bed. Put a family photo on their bed for “X Tray Love” by morning.
Older children and teens can make some changes for children, but it is a good idea to keep them in a reasonable range, so the sleep-wake cycle is not thrown away. Very little sleep makes it more challenging to learn and deal with emotions. Remember to turn off cell phones and other mobile devices one hour before bedtime.