We asked Sally Hall, editor of bbaby magazine and former editor of Emma's Diary and Bounty, to share with us a few ways to get through these tricky times when you have a small child.
Let’s face it, the next few weeks are going to be tough for parents. So we thought we would share a few ideas that may help you get exercise, source all the supplies you need and stay sane, with all the social isolation measures that have been put in place.
1. Get more social
With a lot more people self-isolating, or just going out less because of concerns over infections, make sure you keep in touch with people on social media platforms. You have little choice but to carry on as usual with your baby but it will make all the difference to speak to a friend each day or see a friendly face on your phone.
If you don’t already have a programme like Skype or Facetime on your computer, tablet or phone, install it (and make sure your Mum has done so too) and use it every day. Speak often to other mums in the same situation as you and share some tips, some gripes and some laughs.
2. Get expert help and advice
You probably won’t want to trawl around the shops buying items for your little one but do get in touch with the experts – your local Independent Nursery Store.
Many of them are setting up Facebook advice groups or Skype chats, so that they can continue to supply the equipment you need. In this way, they can act as your own Baby Concierge.
They really do know their stuff, so if you’re not sure what you need or what you can do without, get in touch with them. They can also help you know when hard-to-find items come into stock, as you can keep an eye on their social media feeds. Some of them will offer local delivery too, so you won’t need to go out!
3. Buy from small companies
Smaller, family-run companies are likely to be more heavily impacted than larger ones, so try to order products from small and well-loved companies. Look for products like eco-friendly hand sanitisers and washable nappies, to avoid the shortages in supermarkets.
4. Start thinking of things to do at home
Exercise and mental wellbeing: As you’ll be at home more, try to find some online videos to help you with exercising at home. This will help you keep in trim and help with your mental health too, as exercise can help dispel stress hormones. Find some good post-natal exercise videos, start gently and think about mixing strength with stretching and cardio moves. Pilates is great, as is Yoga, and you can add in some jogging, press-ups and other moves as you get fitter.
Housework and chores: You can also use your rare moments of time when your baby doesn’t need you to get some of those jobs done around the house that you’ve been meaning to do for ages!
Get making: Perhaps you have always wanted to learn a craft – now’s the time to start to get to grips with it, as you may find you have pockets of time you can use. Whether it’s something like sewing, knitting or crochet, painting or drawing, origami or paper art, foiling or weaving, give it a go.
Play with baby: Search for games and activities to play with your baby too, from counting and signing games to baby massage. There’s lots out there, so find some classes and videos you like and do something different every day.
5. Can I still get deliveries?
If you have ordered food or products online, how should you accept them and still stay safe? Many couriers are now providing contact-free deliveries and will leave parcels on the doorstep. If you are worried about this, make a sign for your front door asking them to do so.
Alternatively, have a safe place listed on your delivery details so you don’t have any contact with the courier. You should then leave those packages alone for 24 hours to ensure there is no chance of contamination.
Do not unpack pushchairs and car seats from their outer packaging for a couple of days and then check online for how-to videos on how to set them up and use them.
Wash all fruit and vegetables as they arrive and it may be best to cook all food for now, rather than eating raw salads etc.
6. How to go out safely
It’s important to see the sky and get some fresh air, for both you and your baby, so you can still get out for a walk as part of your hour's exercise as long as you take sensible precautions.
Before leaving the house, wipe the pram down with wipes that kill viruses or hot soapy water. Remove all non-essential things (you know, all those things we leave under the buggy) and dress yourself and baby in your going-out clothes. Use a changing bag for all your going-out things that you can leave by the door when you get home.
Cover the pram with a SnoozeShade, which has the benefit not only of allowing your baby to have a great nap while you push or be protected from the sun when awake, but it will also ensure that your baby won’t be touching things and most importantly, people you might bump into can’t be tempted to touch your baby.
If you do meet friends, keep two metres apart from them and don’t hug or kiss them and certainly don’t let them kiss or touch your baby. It's hard but we must all maintain these measures for everyone's safety.
When you get home, do all this in reverse. Firstly, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Take your baby out of her pram and change her clothes, the pop her in the cot or playpen. Change your clothes and wipe the pram down again with wipes. Re-stock the changing bag with nappies, wipes and spare clothes.
If you live near a park or the countryside, you can get a great walk and see all the beautiful spring buds and flowers opening.
7. Have some back up plans in place
If there are times when you can’t get out for shopping or are worried about going out, enlist the help of friends or relatives to help you. They can do your shopping and leave it on your step, as above.
If you don’t have any friends or family living nearby, there are lots of local groups currently being set up to help those who can’t get out – you can find a group via your local councillors (on your local council website) or through a local Facebook group.