Tips and tricks from Italy for keeping kids (and yourself) on track

Two days into the UK’s official lockdown, we got some advice from Milan-based Erika Elia, the digital director at SEC and mother of two, 9-year-old Ele and 15-year-old Giuli. Now in their 6th week of lockdown, Erika has developed a list of guidelines to steer her and her family through their new reality. 

For the first week, it felt like the start of the summer holidays. There was no structure to our day, and we spent most of our time in different rooms of the house. I soon realised this was not sustainable; the lockdown could go on for months and we needed to accept this way of life as our new reality and implement some structure.

We sat down with the kids and drew up a daily schedule and a list of rules for each member of the household – even the cat!

Here are some of the more useful ones we have found along the way:

1. Be organised about food

Every Sunday we make a weekly food plan for lunch and dinner so our food shops are as efficient as possible to avoid going back too soon.

2. Move

After the first week, everyone in the family had chronic back pains from sitting at a screen for hours on household chairs instead of office ones. Everyone must do one hour of exercise per day and get up from their screen on the hour.

3. Stay connected

Everyone speaks to one one family member and one friend every day. We sometimes even have lunch with my parents – the computer sits at the end of the dinner table.

4. Get creative with teenagers

My 15 year old son doesn’t like to listen to me ever, but especially when it comes to doing exercise. So, I have secretly asked my younger brother to set him some gym exercises which they do together over FaceTime. Problem solved!

5. Keep things fun

It’s important that our house doesn’t become a prison so there needs to be laughter and smiles. We play a game of the kids choosing every day and each night after dinner, we take it in turns to select a film to watch.  We find this allows us to wind down and escape from the worry of the situation.

6. Treasure your animals

If you’re lucky enough to have a pet give them plenty of cuddles; they bring a real comfort to a very anxious time. It also helps that they have no clue what’s going on!

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