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Helping our older kids ‘stuck’ at home during Covid-19

by Teresa Wikkerink, Elmira ON

The Pandemic has forced so many changes in our lives. Staying home, social and physical distancing, constant hand washing, wearing masks, restricted shopping options….these are practices that are important for us to do. We know that. But for so many of us, there are times when just one,  let alone all, of these strategies are hard to keep up. As I reflect on what is happening in my own family, I feel that this is perhaps especially difficult for our teens and young adults.

Many teens and young adults are not currently employed, are struggling to finish up with their online exams and papers, and are isolated from their peers and social supports.  Up until now, our youth have been guiding us in how to stay connected through online tools and it is easy to get lulled into feeling that they’ve got this.  It’s second nature to them, right??

But…just because they might have already been good at virtual connections, doesn’t mean it is meeting all of their needs right now. 

For some of our very social and extroverted kids, staying away from friends and social outings is a real challenge.  For our introverted kids, who thrive on meaningful conversations, Zoom/Facebook chat or even calling on the phone just doesn’t cut it.

We all need connection. And we all need to find ways to engage in activities that help us feel enthusiastic, stimulated and challenged.

Some of the challenges that I am facing as I try my best to support my older kids who are “stuck” at home:

 My young adult son, who NEEDS to be kept busy, was recently laid off his job and has way too much time on his hands.

My youngest son tends to get “lazy” when not kept busy and then just games all day, and eats.  I feel that he spends way too much time on social media. He does not quite agree with me!

The fridge never seems to be filled sufficiently for my guys – they seem to be grazing all day.

What are some things that ARE working? Building on their strengths and interests…

My one son is building skids for a neighbour’s business.   He recently purchased a nail gun and this keeps him busy as long as he has wood pallets.

Finding projects for the guys to do in the yard.  We started a new garden, picked up flag stones for an outdoor patio, and cleaning/organizing the workshop.

Baking and cooking when the weather isn’t suitable outside (we all love this activity!).

My one son takes daily walks with his friend and dog, keeping a safe 6 ft apart.  It is so good to get fresh air and exercise….but it is the social connection that makes the difference.

My other son is in midst of building a “smithy” – he’s figured out how to put on the steel roof and will soon be siding it with board and batten. This has been an interest of his for a number of years and now he has the time and the resources to really embrace it.

Expressing our appreciation for the work they are doing….and for their efforts to try to make this very difficult time work for all of us. Our kids (of any age) need to hear that we value them and are grateful for even their smallest efforts.

What are some things that are NOT working?

Keeping the guys busy with cleaning – It needs to be done, but they both hate cleaning the house.  I feel I need to “bribe them” which is not very effective.

Projects to be done cost money.  We were able to get the rocks for the patio and steel for the smithy roof free, but wood for the siding will cost.  With unemployment that we are experiencing, this has become a challenge. 

Older teens/young adults can be quite independent and do not like to be “told what to do”.  I find if I give ideas for the guys to do the day before and they choose, it works so much better.

Other ideas to keep teens/young adults busy:

Are there projects to be done around the house that don’t cost a lot?  These are ways to keep them busy and teach needed skills for life.

Are there neighbours who need help with lawn cleaning and gardening?  This is  great way to give back to our community.

Do family members and friends need encouragement?  Are there creative ways to make cards/picture collages to create either in hard copies or digital?

Even though we are a full 8 weeks into the pandemic response, it continues to be hard. For all of us. We are trying our best and some days everything goes well. Other days, not so great. But, when I look out into the yard and see my sons busy with their projects, my heart soars…and I am so proud of them and how they are dealing with all of this. I can only imagine how difficult it is for them.


Click here to read about another parent’s reflection on how her teens are experiencing grief and loss at this time….just as we are! 


What about your teens and young adults? How are they doing? We would love to have you share some of the things your teens and young adults are doing during this time of social isolation!


2 Responses to “Helping our older kids ‘stuck’ at home during Covid-19”

  1. Victorial says:

    Great love seeing the creative projects your fsmybis doin

  2. Nadia says:

    I am so happy to read this article as it is very similar to my story. Grazing! 🙂

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