There are a ton of consequences stemming from the COVID crisis, but the mental and physical health of our children is apparent. Anxiety, depression, even suicide is a plague upon this generation.
Routine is key to maintaining a happy household with children. Regular wake-up times and bedtimes as well as daily routine (get up, get on the bus, go to school, come home, etc.) help to keep balance in a child’s life. Routine has become difficult to maintain if it hasn’t been thrown out the window all together. And school is a big part of a family’s daily routine.
Propaganda promoting fear of the virus has kept many people from simple things like going to the store, a restaurant or family gatherings. Unemployment and closures plague families and communities.
In my house, getting my son to go anywhere with me now takes more effort than I think that it should. And I admit that I lose my patience with it sometimes, but I am confident that I am not the only parent experiencing this. My son has become so comfortable in remaining home, not socializing with other kids his age, and complaining about going anywhere. His anxiety spikes the night before an in-person school day and peaks the next morning. Tears, attitude, and headaches are a regular thing in the mornings, creating more stress than I feel is healthy. By tweaking our morning routine to include his favorite shows (currently Wipeout, Gumball, and Thunder Cats Roar) instead of news, packing his backpack and picking his clothes the evening before, and listening to PopRocks in the car in the morning have helped set his mind right for in-person school days.
I am sure that my son is not the only child that is experiencing this, something that did not happen pre-COVID. Before COVID, my son preferred to visit his friends, go out to dinner with us, go on vacation, play team sports, attend school (mostly for recess and gym class), and go to practice with me. He is a child with the gift of gab and love of activity. When COVID shut things down last year, he was excited at first for no school, but the excitement quickly diminished and became frustration when he could not see his friends, play sports, go on trips, or out to eat with us. Now it has become anxiety and a fight to simply leave our house or property.
At least we are mostly active people. Northeast winters can keep people inside if you are not a fan of cold and snow. Thankfully, we are Beachbody members and have an iFit treadmill. With online workout programs and an interactive NordicTrack, my family gets exercise every day, but I know that is not the case for many families. This is detrimental to physical fitness and health. You got to keep active, keep moving, and get fresh air. Not only is it good for your physical health, but it is also great for your mental health.
I truly hope that the mental and physical health of our youth do not become an unintended consequence of the fearmongering and politicization of COVID-19.