COVID-19: The family guide to stay happy and healthy

March 30, 2020
Last updated March 30, 2020

Is your household one of the thousands throughout the country that’s sheltering in place or under self-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic? We know this time can be overwhelming and stressful for everyone in the family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, children, parents, and even older children and college students. This guide was developed to help you keep yourself and your family safe, happy, and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Keep everyone connected.

Communicate with family members and stay in touch with your community:

  • Stay informed about the coronavirus, but don’t overindulge in the news.
  • Decide how much information about the pandemic to share with members of your household based on their age, and talk about it in a way that everyone can easily understand.
  • Give everyone a way to share their feelings and concerns. In addition to family discussions, provide journaling, drawing, and even painting materials.
  • Stay in touch by phone, text, and video chat with family members who don’t live with you.
  • Use videoconference apps and group video chats to host virtual playdates for children—and yourself!
  • Get everyone involved. If you normally do most of the cooking, shopping, cleaning, babysitting, or home-schooling, then let others in on your secrets so they can help.
  • Enlist the family to come up with ways to keep everyone entertained; pull out old board games, invite the kids to find a recipe they’d like to make, get out in the garden and weed or plant flowers together.

Modify your routine—and stick to it.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Creating a household plan can help protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community. You should base the details of your household plan on the needs and daily routine of your household members.”

Maintaining your traditional routine may not be reasonable at this time. Strive for about 80% consistency in your parenting strategies and household rules. Outlining a household action plan helps everyone understand “the new game plan”:

  • Set a schedule for work, meals, learning and school assignments, household chores, exercise and physical activity, free play, and family time.
  • Maintain sleep patterns and schedules. We often underestimate the link between being well-rested and resisting illness. Go to sleep at your regular time every day of the week.
  • Don’t forget “me time.” Set aside time and a space to rest and recharge yourself.

Reduce your risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Since the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to it, make sure everyone in your household:

  • Washes their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Uses a generous amount of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when they can’t wash their hands
  • Avoids touching their face; encourage everyone to pull back their hair so that they aren’t constantly brushing it back from their face
  • Coughs and sneezes into a tissue or their elbow (and then immediately discards the tissue and washes their hands)
  • Practices “social distancing” by limiting close contact with other people
  • Avoids people who are sick, even if they haven’t tested positive for coronavirus
  • Routinely cleans and disinfects commonly touched objects and surfaces—doorknobs, drawer pulls, cell phone and tablet screens, remote controls, light switches, keyboards, fridge doors, faucet handles
  • Drinks a lot of water—at least 8 glasses a day; label a separate water bottle for everyone in the house

Exercise mind and body.

Since everyone in the household will probably be more sedentary, getting some level of physical exercise is more important than ever. Stress levels will rise and tempers will flare, so mental self-care matters just as much. Try these tips:

  • Get fresh air and stay moving; go outside if you can (avoid playground equipment though).
  • Schedule play time for everyone in the family, even the grown-ups.
  • Give yourself a mental break—meditate and practice mindful breathing.
  • Call for an impromptu dance party! Get everyone in the house moving for a few minutes a few times a day.
  • Listen to music and audiobooks.
  • Relax TV and screen time rules, but be mindful about the amount of time youngsters spend with social media.
  • Come up with something for everyone to look forward to every few days and when the pandemic ends.

Flattening the curve

Practicing some of these ideas and guidelines will help not only you and your family but also your neighbors—and people you’ll never meet. We’re in this together, and every step you take helps “flatten the curve.”

If you have or someone in your household must work remotely during this time, read our stay healthy blog post for ways to stay healthy, happy, and productive. And remember, you can trust Teladoc to do everything we can to help keep you and your family healthy and safe during this pandemic.

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