How to survive holidays during COVID-19

The Pain family, like many Australians, had to cancel their Easter holiday plans due to COVID-19.
The Pain family, like many Australians, had to cancel their Easter holiday plans due to COVID-19.

Like many other Australians, Queensland mum-of-two Melinda Pain has had to cancel her family's two-week caravanning holiday this Easter.

Ms Pain is already dealing with the stress of being laid off from work as a pilates instructor and the uncertainty of the coronavirus.

But she's trying to see the silver lining these holidays.

"We will never get this time again when our children are at home learning with us," she told AAP.

"We should have been caravanning for two weeks, but instead we are finding the fun at home."

Faced with the school holiday and restrictions due to COVID-19 Melinda and husband Brett bought chickens - something they had previously planned to do in a few months' time.

The pets keep Harper, 6, and Hudson, 3, occupied, giving them a reason to go outside while staying at home.

"I have stocked up on school work books for Harper, who is also an avid reader," Ms Pain says.

Walks in their neighbourhood have turned into a bear hunt, thanks to people who have put teddies on display.

COVID-19 restrictions mean common Easter activities like camping holidays and family gatherings have been ruled out this year, but University of Southern Queensland child psychologist Professor Sonja March says parents can bring some fun into the home this long weekend.

Families may feel a sense of loss at not being able to go on holiday, take day-trips to beaches or national parks, head to church or enjoy special times with extended family and friends.

But Prof March says having a list of activities and experiences that can reduce stress and boredom can help families get through.

Key to drawing up the list is brainstorming with the kids to include their ideas.

Activities like eating popcorn and watching a movie, doing puzzles, reading a book, going for a walk or scooter ride, baking, enjoying virtual museum tours online, drawing with chalk on walkways or playing a board game are simple ways families can spend the time.

Others might choose to camp in the backyard or toast marshmallows over a fire pit.

Families and individuals will find different activities interesting and fun, but it's important to have a mix of things to do as a family or individually, Prof March told AAP.

"It's important for kids and parents to have some time on their own.

"Everyone needs their own time to refresh or recharge."

People who often get together with loved ones over Easter can find ways to connecting with extended family and friends.

These can include video calls, texting and playing online games together, says Prof March.

As families spend more time together, children might ask parents more questions about the coronavirus.

Flinders University child and adolescent nursing expert Dr Yvonne Parry says kids might talk about their worries about the lockdown and global pandemic.

She says it's important to support children and young people through times of community difficulty.

"Difficult times always pass, and finding solutions will help them adjust to change."

Monash University education lecturer Dr Christine Grove says having open and honest discussions about COVID-19 is important as children may worry more if they are kept in the dark.

"They sometimes fill in the blanks with their imagination."

Dr Grove suggests parents validate whatever feelings or concerns children may have by letting them know it is normal to feel scared or worried.

Support services are available over the Easter weekend, as at other times, if parents or children need support.

RESOURCES

* Lifeline 13 11 14

* Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36

* Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

* www.brave-online.com - an online self-help program for parents and children

* www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/covid-19 - tips for keeping kids safe online

Australian Associated Press