Information for Parents and Caregivers

Expectant and New Families! Check out the information just for you on our page for perinatal mental health

Talking to Kids about the Coronavirus:  This topic has been covered by various groups.  Here are a few reputable organizations that have published some good guidelines.

Finding educational materials for kids:  For many parents, the best place to start is like to be your child’s school to see what is being recommended.  Your local library can also be a good resource.  You may also want to look at the Vermont Agency of Education for further guidance.

Things to Do with Kids:  Many kids will be looking to fill the extra time they have with screens.  While it is probably fine to give them some flexibility these days when it comes to their usual limits, it may be quite beneficial to consider 1) media that has more educational content, and 2) alternatives to screens during the day that allow children to interact with other people and move their bodies.  Here are just a few ideas for both inside and outside that kids could do.

  • Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, artist in residence at the Kennedy Center
  • Keep a journal about their experience
  • Read a book
  • Create a play or homemade movie
  • Go for a hike or photography walk
  • Play disc golf (either at a park or create your own course)
  • Practice an outside sport (baseball, soccer, basketball) while keeping your distance from other family groups
  • Call or videochat relatives
  • Cook things together
  • Play card or board games
  • Do a puzzle

Family Meals:  If possible, continue to eat together either family meals with electronics turned off so that there is an opportunity to give your full attention to the people around you.  Good information as well as food ideas can be found at The Family Dinner Project.

Taking Care of Yourself

Mindfulness:  Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be a great way to reduce stress and control your thoughts.  You can do it simply by sitting quietly for a few minutes while focusing on your breathing.  You can find guided mindfulness exercises on the internet or on your phone. The Smiling Mind is one site that has a free app that you can download.

Exercise:  It’s important to keep moving for both physical and mental health.  Even if the gym is closed, you can still talk a walk or go for a jog.  There are also plenty of online sources for group exercise activities like Zumba or yoga.

Healthy Eating: Food can be an easy go-to under stress.  If you are fortunate to have all the food your family needs at home during this time, try to keep the snacking at bay and follow your internal hunger cues, rather than your nerves, to guide eating.

Routines:  Even if you don’t have to get up and go to work right now, it can still be worthwhile to get up around the usual time, get dressed, and follow as many of your regular routines that you can.

Not too Much News:  Sure it is important to keep informed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be listening to coronavirus news all the time.  Unreliable sources can also fuel anxiety with their dire predictions and exaggerated doomsday scenarios.

Help Others!  While it can seem these days that you barely have enough in the tank to take care of yourself and loved ones, giving what you can to others during this time of need can benefit everyone involved.  Whether it be money, volunteer time, or even messages of gratitude and appreciation to the many people working so hard how for all of us.

 

Send DMH a Question

Do you have a mental health related question that you would like to ask experts here at DMH?  Have you come up with a useful tip to maintain good mental health for you or your family?  Send us an email at AHS.DMHCOVID19Info@vermont.gov and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

Contact Information

Department of Mental Health
Commissioner Sarah Squirrell
280 State Drive, NOB 2 North
Waterbury, VT 05671-2010
Phone: (802) 241-0090
Fax: (802) 241-0100

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