With the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many host families and au pairs are practicing social distancing. Parents and au pairs are faced with the challenge of keeping children occupied for an unknown amount of time while avoiding play dates and public places. Some children may feel anxious or depressed about current events. It is important that parents and au pairs take time to help children feel connected while they are practicing social distancing.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean a total loss of human connections, as videos of quarantined people in Italy singing to each other from their balconies show us. We can still reach out and form bonds from a safe distance (at least 6 feet apart) while keeping our families and communities safe.
Here are 7 ways au pairs can help children stay connected while practicing social distancing:
1. Let children video chat with family and friends
Take advantage of technology’s ability to connect us. Parents can control who their child is able to chat with on many apps, such as Messenger Kids. Other video conferencing apps, like Skype, are a great option for chatting with family and friends. Au pairs can also include host children on video chats with their own family.
2. Stay active
While you should maintain a physical distance from others, going outside at least once a day and getting fresh air is a great way to feel refreshed. Plus, exercise outdoors can help children burn off some of their energy and reduce anxiety. If it’s not possible to safely go outdoors, yoga and other forms of meditation can be calming for the whole family.
3. Enjoy a virtual story time
With many libraries closing or canceling events, children may feel sad about missing story time. Actors, comics and authors are reading to and entertaining children online and on social media. Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf from Frozen), Jimmy Fallon, Betty White, and other celebrities are posting videos reading aloud children’s stories. Check out Storyline Online for a large library of free videos, as well as SaveWithStories.
4. Try to keep a schedule
Many children (and adults for that matter) feel most comfortable with a daily routine. If your children do best with structure, work together with your au pair to establish a schedule for a new sense of normalcy.
5. Bond as a family
This is a great time to play trivia games as a family, break out the board games, or write and act out your own play or movie. This experience can help deepen the bonds between your family and au pair. Exchange stories, songs, games, and recipes with your au pair.
6. Learn something new
Use this time inside to learn new skills! Children can play language learning games with au pairs and learn songs and stories from around the world. Feeling crafty? Search Pinterest and YouTube for crafts for kids with easy to find household items.
7. Virtual field trips
While museums and zoos are currently closed around the world, many offer virtual tours for free. Here are a few virtual field trips for children and au pairs while they are stuck at home:
- Yellowstone National Park
- The Louvre Museum
- The surface of Mars(recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover)
- San Diego Zoo
- Arconic’s Advanced Manufacturing hub
These are uncertain and unprecedented times for people around the world. Do your best to support each other as a family – and global community – during this time.
For more than 30 years, we have provided the best live-in cultural child care opportunities to host families across the country and au pairs from around the world. Learn more about hosting an au pair with Au Pair in America!