The lowdown on lockdown: how to help family members navigate staying at home
If lockdown 3.0 has left you feeling flat, here’s how to shine some light into the months that lie ahead
Despite the hope and promise the recent vaccination rollout has brought with it, the UK is largely back to living and working from home. And whilst the lighter days, warmer weather and sense of novelty made the initial national lockdown bearable, for most of us, lockdown 3.0 has brought with it a sense of monotony, low mood and thoughts of ‘can we really do this again?’.
Whilst it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the bleak headlines and the return to spending large swathes of time at home, there are ways to lift your spirits and restore a sense of wellness into every day. From implementing tech curfews to dusting down your board games, we’ve put together some ideas and inspiration to get you and your family members through the next few months – feeling better connected than ever.
Whether it’s back-to-back Zoom calls, or your teenagers’ schooling taking place live via screen, technology is crucial for connection during these difficult days. However, according to studies, this recent surge in screen time can also be a huge source of eye strain, stress and fatigue, leaving us feeling wearier than ever when our senses are already overwhelmed by external events.
Stats show an almost 500% increase in children’s screen time during the pandemic as they turn to their tablets and phones for everything from education to FaceTime with friends – and this increased reliance on technology is not without physical and mental fallout. As our screens become the mode by which we shop, work and play, it’s important to establish boundaries and rules around the way you use your devices to better protect yours and your family’s mental and physical health.
‘We really need to keep our eyes and ears on the younger members of the family during this time,’ says Olivanna founder Janine Summers. ‘They’ve been through so much from spending birthdays and months separated from their friends to having exams cancelled.’ During term time, their learning environment is structured around a consistent classroom environment, interacting with their friendship groups, and set with key goals and group learning tasks. It has certainly been anxiety-inducing for them, not knowing whether to study and carry on as normal, particularly the children working towards key exams,’ she adds.
‘Yes, it’s important they use their iPads and phones for learning and staying in touch with friends – and I’d encourage this as much as possible – but as computer screens emit blue light which can disturb our sleep and circadian rhythms, it’s key to implement boundaries. In our house, we’ve started using the Circle app. It allows you to monitor each family member’s screen time, programme in bedtimes (so no midnight scrolling) and turn off their tech at the touch of a button,’ says Janine.
‘We all know how addictive tech and social media can be and whilst you may be met with a few moans and groans when you turn off their phones or iPads, limiting their access to the internet can in fact bring you closer together. The other day I pulled out a big jigsaw and we all got stuck in for a couple of hours. The girls told me how much fun they’d found it!’ she adds.
If the Circle app feels too restrictive, you could set a rule that phones must be charged downstairs, left in the lounge during mealtimes or even implement a no-screens-allowed past 8pm rule – yes, that includes Netflix! Not only will the reduction in blue light help improve your children’s quality of sleep (thereby making their online lessons a little easier) but it’ll force them to get stuck into family life instead. That could be anything from getting them into the kitchen to whip up a nutritious meal alongside you (arguably never more important), reading, painting, drawing or, like Janine, getting everyone stuck into a 1000-piece puzzle.
Yes, with restaurants, cinemas and theatres still shut, our social lives are limited but binge-watching boxsets isn’t the only answer. ‘We need to look at what we used to do in the evenings with our families 20 or 30 years ago,’ suggests Janine. ‘During lockdown, connection is more important than ever as we’re shut off from our usual routines and schedules. We can use time that was previously spent commuting or heading to and from the gym to re-establish the bond between family members.’
‘Technology’s been a lifeline during this time but it’s also stripped away all of the things we used to do before its arrival. Whether it’s a game of Monopoly, Draughts or everyone’s favourite kid’s party game Twister, turning off your tech and dusting down your boardgames can result in some escapism, entertainment and family bonding – even a game of Hide-and-seek indoors!
‘It’s not just the children that are loving this old-fashioned, no-screens entertainment. I’ve spent a few evenings playing ‘Mr and Mrs’ – an old-fashioned quiz game show that was on years ago with my husband and it’s brought about lots of laughter. I really believe it’s humour that we all need and that will get us through these uncertain times,’ adds Janine.
So, why not dig out and dust down those old board games? Whether it’s Friday night games night with the family or even an entire games week (play a different game every night and crown a winner at the weekend), board games are associated with happy childhood memories and enable us to recreate those experiences with our own families during what is an overwhelming and exhausting time. In fact, it’s become such a soother that Hasbro, the creators of Monopoly, Connect 4 and Jenga, recently reported a 20% boost in sales.
With 63% of us reporting that exercise is imperative to protecting our mental health during the pandemic, it’s unsurprisingly we’ve turned into a nation of movers and shakers. Whilst more of us are walking more than ever (and a long dog walk with the children in tow will always remain a favourite afternoon activity) there are other ways to make the most of the great outdoors.
Try a family bike ride from one village to the next, go for a family jog on a Sunday (if yours are the active type) or even go and get yours involved at weeding the garden – January is the perfect time to get prepared for spending more time outdoors come spring! Not only does being outside in nature improve our mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, thanks in part to an increase in Vitamin D, but physical exercise helps release endorphins and feel-good hormones which are key to keeping our spirits lifted.
While we’d suggest limiting your screen time as often as possible, one Zoom call that’s absolutely golden is some facetime with the elderly members of your family. Grandparents might have been cautious, shielding and isolating for months and are likely to welcome a regular virtual check-in.
Pencil it in the diary and encourage all of the family to sit down and chat for half an hour or so. Not only will it help your kids feel connected to their Grandparents when they’ve probably had very little contact with them all year, but for the older members of your crew, it’ll give them a sense of connection when there is little else on offer.
If you want some structure to your call, you could ask the children to put together a quiz for everyone to take part in or both watch the same movie the night before and then discuss it via Zoom or Skype. There are no hard or fast rules but try to keep it a regular tradition so that everyone looks forward to it throughout the week.
Don’t forget about yourself!
If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that self-care is key, so why not treat yourself to an at-home pamper session? Run the bath, lock the door, light some candles and take a breath as you unwind and treat yourself to a spa-like treatment.
With the help of our luxury natural skincare products, you can take a well-deserved break from the mundanity that lockdown can bring. Whatever your skin type or whether you’re a fan of vegan skincare or clean skincare, our anti-ageing skincare range blends scientifically proven ingredients alongside British botanical actives for a youthful glow so you can make that pampering session extra special.
[Outro:] There’s no doubt about it, this lockdown feels tough for us all, for a variety of reasons. However, there are ways to flip the situation and shine some light into every day. Down your tech, get creative, cook up a storm and schedule in regular FaceTime with family. We will get through this – and who knows, perhaps some of our new habits will remain….
Stay in touch with us – we are here for you.
Team Olivanna x