Parents and guardians (COVID-19)
Parenting can be challenging under normal circumstances and it may be especially difficult during this uncertain time. Daily work, home and school routines have changed. Adjusting to these changes can be hard for children, teenagers and for you. Here are some tips that the World Health Organization recommends to help.
On this page:
- Parenting tips during COVID-19
- Physical distancing for kids
- Support your family’s mental health during COVID-19
- Pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding during COVID-19
Parenting tips during COVID-19
1. Create a flexible but consistent daily routine
Make a schedule for you and your children that has time for structured activities as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure and be better behaved. Children or teenagers can help plan the routine for the day (World Health Organization). Children will follow this schedule better if they help to make it. You can try scheduling time for exercise in each day. This helps with stress and kids with lots of energy at home!
2. Keep it positive
Children and teens are much more likely to do what we ask if we give them positive instructions (World Health Organization) and lots of praise for what they do right. For example, say the behaviour you want to see and try using positive words when telling your child what to do. For example, try saying “Please put your clothes away” instead of “Don’t make a mess”. Praise your child when they are behaving well, including when they take steps to stay COVID-safe. Praise their efforts when they remember to put on their mask or when they stay home when sick.
3. Spend one-on-one time
Each day, set aside time to each day to spend one-on-one (World Health Organization) with each of your children. Ask them what they’d like to do and turn off the television or put down the phone during this time. Try reading a book, dancing to music or cooking your favourite meal!
4. Keeping calm and managing stress
This is a stressful time (World Health Organization). Try to take care of yourself, so you can support your children. A good way to get some quiet time is to set up activities that your kids can do on their own that encourage creativity. Remember, you are not alone, reach out and connect with other parents. Talking to others can help ease stress.
If you need more advice, local parenting services are available online at parenting4me.com
Physical distancing for kids
You might be wondering how to talk about COVID-19 and physical distancing with kids in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be.
You can reassure your children by talking about all the things they are already doing to keep themselves safe and healthy. For example, hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette and not touching their face. Remind them that by maintaining physical distancing from others who are not from the same household, when they are not wearing a mask, helps keep themselves and others healthy.
The Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, in collaboration with Public Health Sudbury & Districts, created an informative and entertaining video series about COVID-19 and how to stay safe. The series, entitled “Gretchen en Quarantchaine”, is a great resource for children to help understand COVID-19 and the public health measures that have become a daily reality. Note: this video series is only available in French.
Support your family’s mental health during COVID-19
Your children probably have a lot of questions about COVID-19, or why schools and activities have been cancelled. Don’t be afraid to chat with your children. Give them space to share how they’re feeling and be supportive by letting them know you’re there to listen.
- Talking to your anxious child about COVID-19 (Children’s Mental Health Ontario).
- Learn more about mental health strategies (ementalhealth.ca) to support your family and children.
- Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) has a list of the top 10 parenting tips (PDF) that help during uncertain times.
- The Ontario Ministry of Health has advice on how to talk to your children about the pandemic (Government of Ontario, PDF).
Pregnancy, childbirth, baby care, and breastfeeding during COVID-19
This may be a stressful time to be pregnant. It is only natural to worry about the effects that COVID-19 could have on your baby. At this time, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises that pregnant individuals are at increased risk of more severe disease or negative outcomes if they get COVID-19. This includes an increased risk of needing intensive care.
There are some things that you can do to help prevent getting sick:
- Complete your COVID-19 vaccine series.
- Wear a mask while out in public
- Wash your hands often.
- Practise physical distancing of 2 meters.
- Limit close contacts.
- Avoid crowed places and peak-hours. Limit trips to the store.
- Limit use of public transport if possible.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) recommends that pregnant individuals receive a full COVID-19 vaccine series (preferably with an mRNA vaccine). The Government of Ontario recommends that all pregnant individuals get vaccinated as soon as possible at any stage in pregnancy. For more information, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations (PDF, Government of Ontario) and COVID-19 Vaccination: Special Populations Vaccination in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool (PDF, Government of Ontario).
It is recommended, but not required, that individuals who are pregnant talk with their treating health care provider, or with a health care provider familiar with their pregnancy, before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. A conversation about the potential risks and benefits of the vaccine will be important to determine if it is right for you and will help to ensure that an informed choice is made. For help with your decision-making process as a patient, refer to the Ministry of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Patient Decision-Making Tool (PDF, Government of Ontario).
Giving birth during a pandemic can be stressful and that is normal. Talk to your health care provider about your birth plan and any COVID-19 policies the hospital might have in place.
For more information visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.
To best protect yourself and your baby you should limit your close contact with others not from your household and follow personal protective measures when you leave the house, to prevent you or your baby from getting COVID-19.
If you suspect that you have COVID-19, self-isolate at home and call the assessment center. It is important to physically distance from others in your home, except from your baby. Holding your baby skin-to-skin and staying in the same room as your baby is important, especially during the beginning when breastfeeding and bonding are being established. However, if you are symptomatic, (even mildly), it is important to prevent spreading the virus to your baby. You can do this by:
- washing your hands often (including before and after you touch your baby/child)
- covering your coughs/sneezes with your arm or tissue
- avoiding touching your face
- wearing a non-medical mask or face covering (that covers your nose and mouth) when you are close to your baby (less than 2 metres), including during feeding time
- cleaning and disinfecting the environment around you
COVID-19 has not been found in breast milk (Public Health Agency of Canada). Breastfeeding is recommended and we encourage all breastfeeding mothers to continue to breastfeed.
If you think you have COVID-19, follow the precautions listed above (under Baby Care) when feeding your baby. Consider the following as well:
- use a clean towel on your nursing pillow (if using one) each time you feed your baby
- sterilize any breast pump equipment carefully before and after each use. After every use, wash pump/containers with liquid soap. Rinse for 10-15 seconds with hot water.
- do not share infant feeding equipment
If you are too sick to breastfeed or care for your baby have a healthy adult provide the care. When they are providing care to the baby, they should also wear a non-medical face mask or covering and wash their hands often.
Recent research has shown that the antibodies produced by the vaccinated breastfeeding person have been shown to transfer through the milk and provide protection against COVID-19 to the infant. For more information, refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Special Populations (PDF, Government of Ontario) and COVID-19 Vaccination: Special Populations Vaccination in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Decision-Making Support Tool (PDF, Government of Ontario).
If you have questions about breastfeeding or feeding your baby, call to speak with one of our public health nurses at 705.522.9200, ext. 342 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
For other breastfeeding services available in your community, visit ontariobreastfeeds.ca or call Telehealth at 1.866.797.0000 for 24/7 breastfeeding support.
Remember, we are here for you.
You can also visit our schools and daycare section for more general information on this topic.
This item was last modified on September 24, 2021