With UK households still under Coronavirus lockdown, you may be getting used to spending most of your time stuck indoors, but it's so important that both you and your kids get some time outside - for exercise and for your mental wellbeing. With government guidelines seemingly vague, the idea of taking your family outdoors can be extremely stressful - so we've rounded up our top tips on ways that you can make sure that your children are kept safe, and aware of social distancing rules.
Plan Your Route
Planning your route before you leave the house can be a really great and effective way to keep your family safe and protected. If you're planning on walking or biking to a nearby park, plan ahead to use paths and entrances that you know won't be crowded or over-used. It's also important to consider whether or not the area that you'll be walking on has enough open space that you and the kids will be able to get through without coming too close to anybody else - so head for areas with wide pathways or lots of green space that you can cross if needed. It's a good idea to stick to times that you think will be quietest, too. With the sunny weather we've been having - larger amounts of people will be out in the afternoon, so plan to venture out in the early morning or evening if you can.
Use Visual Guides
You may be well-versed on the social distancing rule of keeping two metres apart from others, but your kids most likely aren't. It's important that before leaving the house you take the time to explain the measures and their importance to your children, and a great way to do this is by using visual guides so help them understand the correct length they should be keeping. If you've got a tape measure at home, visually measuring this out can be a big help. You could also show them the two metres in the form of taking three big steps away from them (maybe 4 or 5 for little ones). Last but not least, you can explain (and show) that when holding a broom out, you shouldn't be able to touch anyone else. While you may not be able to take out a tape measure or a broom with you, giving your children these visual representations to keep in mind will definitely help them to keep their distance.
Create a Codeword
Coming up with a codeword that you as a parent can call to get your kids to run back to you when out in public is a great way to keep them out of harms way. Before leaving the house, make sure to explain the situation clearly and encourage the children to come up with a word that they can all remember and recognise as meaning that they need to huddle back together with you. Heading out with excitable kids can be tough, and most likely means that they may not focus too much on social distancing. As a parent, having a codeword to alert them is a really effective way to ensure that everyone is keeping the correct distance - and instead of being ignored, they may even see the special code word that they chose as a fun little game.
Explain the Importance of Hygiene
While you can't exactly bundle your children up in face masks and gloves every time you leave the house, it's imperative they're taught about washing their hands and avoiding touching their faces. It's a good idea to sit your little ones down and talk openly about the current lockdown situation, what's happening, and honestly answer any questions they may ask. It's important to explain the lengths that are being taken to keep them protected, and how they can help - such as washing their hands regularly with soap and water for a minimum of twenty seconds, and avoiding touching their mouths, eyes, and noses - especially when outside. We all know that children like to touch things, whether that be running their hands along the gates at the park or touching benches along the pathway, so it's imperative to explain to them the risks and why doing so and then touching their mouths or others afterwards may put them at risk. It's also important as a parent that if you're going outside, to keep a firm eye on your little ones and to carry hand sanitiser with you if you can. You could even offer up an incentive - if you don't catch any of the kids touching anything outside, they'll all get a treat later!
Set a Limit
It's very easy to lose track of time when you're enjoying the outdoors, but setting a limit for yourself and your family when out and about is a great way to ensure that you minimise any possible risks. Government guidelines have outlined a limit of one form of outdoor exercise per day, of up to an hour in length - so making sure that you don't go over that time frame should be your goal. As a general rule, to maintain our health and wellbeing - adults require a minimum of thirty minutes of physical activity per day, whilst children need up to an hour. These activities could include a fast walk, jogging, cycling, or having a scoot around. As we suggested earlier on, explaining the current Coronavirus situation to your children and making sure that they understand fully before leaving the house will go a long way in terms of setting a time limit for when you go outside - especially when they will most likely want to run around and play for longer. Try to remind your children that there's always tomorrow, and that it's for their benefit and the benefit of others around them - and that this won't last forever. If your little ones are old enough to tell the time, you may even want to encourage them and give them the responsibility of checking their own watches to see when it's home time! Setting a time limit will enable you peace of mind that you're not putting your family at any unnecessary risk - and will ensure that you're all getting enough exercise.