Coronavirus has officially been categorized as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, which means offices, schools and universities are closing in order to prevent the spread of this scare. As such, parents are now tasked not only with making childcare arrangements in light of the closings but also with having honest conversations with their children about what coronavirus is.

Psychotherapist Perri Shaw Borish, M.S.S,. L.C.S.W., says parents are reporting higher anxiety as they begin to face the wave of school closings spreading across the country. “It’s normal to feel stressed at the thought of being quarantined with your children for days, even weeks, on end—and it’s important to be reminded that having these feelings doesn’t make you a bad parent,” says Shaw Borish, who specializes in treating anxiety and depression in mothers and fathers.

The coronavirus pandemic not only affects children but also the parents who will be working from home in order to avoid unsafe commutes. Realistically, your productivity will be affected if you find yourself working and staying at home with the kids. “For parents who will be working from home, you should have a frank discussion with your boss about a realistic workload,” says Borish.

While there is no evidence to support that children are at increased risk of c0ntracting coronavirus, the CDC recommends that parents teach their kids preventive actions to stop the spread of respiratory infections, such as covering their mouths when coughing; washing their hands often with soap and water; using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and keeping them up to date on vaccinations, including the flu shot.

Though its tempting to want to stay in for the day, Borish says keeping some semblance of normal daily life is critical during this time: “It’s going to be crucial to plan ahead. Set up childcare if you can afford to, plan outings (if your kids are healthy), and schedule the day to have a balance of planned activities and free play.”  

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