It’ s been one week since we were declared a red zone in Italy.

One week of staying at home.

One week of reinventing myself with two kids.

One week of complete change.

Life seems quite unreal these days, but these are the six most important lessons I’ve learned so far. 

1. Stay calm but allow yourself to be scared.

My first reaction when I heard we were declared a red zone was panic.

I didn’t want to be locked up in the house. I didn’t want to be told what to do. I didn’t want to live all this. 

Still, I tried to stay calm. No one feels comfortable if someone starts to decide things for you, even if it is for the best of everyone. It goes against our nature, our instincts. We want to be in charge of our life. 

Try to be as rational as possible. The way you handle the situation will be the way your kids will live the next weeks. 

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Did I stay calm and cool for a week? No, I didn’t. I had my weak moments more than once. I just tried not to show them in front of my kids. 

Yes, I was worried and I still am. Yes, I was scared and will probably be for a long time. 

But still, in front of the kids, I try to stay calm. And you can handle this as well. They are bothered enough, understanding only bits and pieces of what’s going on. Don’t join their chaos, be the one who calms them down.

2. Get informed

Getting information in these days can be difficult and can have a huge effect on you. The first days I lived with my phone in-hand. I checked information on all possible channels and read articles even from other countries, all to understand better what was going on. 

Did it help? No. 

Did it calm me down? No. 

The problem is that there so much information that it’s almost too much and not helpful anymore. 

Choose one or two newspapers you trust and you can be sure of that they don’t post false information. Follow their timeline of news. Check the official pages of your country to understand what is going on. Decide which chats, groups and social channels are helpful. Disregard those that only spread panic and rumors. Stick to sources that keep you informed in these days. 

Find your tribe, connect and share your thoughts. We are in this together more than ever!

3. Make a plan for your family

Since you suddenly have so much time at home with your kids, get organized. Include them, depending on their age, in your planning.

What are the things that need to be done on a daily basis? Where can they help? What do they want to do?

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Don’t make it look like a to-do list. Make it a summary of things that everyone in the family wants to do. Fill it up with things that the kids like to do, like little projects or reading, and things that they need to do like homework.

Do things you’ve wanted to do for a long time but never had time for. Now is the right moment to paint that wall, reorganize the playroom, sort all the LEGOs . . . it will keep you busy and away from bad thoughts. 

4. Create a daily routine

The first days feel like a long weekend, but soon everyone realizes that this is not true. 

Try to find your own rhythm to get through these days. Depending on your family and on your kids, this routine needs to be more or less strict. Here your daily plan helps. We have a blackboard in the kitchen where every day we write down the date, our activities and even the weather.

Stick to your bedtime routine. The kids need their sleep, no matter whether they are in or out, and you will need time alone in the evening.

5. Keep everyone moving

I have two kids who normally move a lot. We spend hours every day outside with friends playing. So you might imagine what happens if you suddenly have to stay inside. 

Try to find alternatives to going out that still make them move. Jump on the bed, run around the kitchen table, build an obstacle course with everything you can find and make them hop and climb and slide. 

If you have the chance, go out for a walk. We are allowed to go for short walks in the neighborhood as long as we stay away from other people. Depending on the age of your kids, let them go with the bike, scooter, skates—just make them move!

6. Try to make the best of it

This last advice sounds a bit out of place. Still, this is what we all should do if we end up in a situation like this. 

We will rarely again get the chance to spend so much time with our kids at home. So use the chance! Go camping in your living room. Bake all the cookies you ever wanted. Paint with hand, feet, and nose. Just do it, and try to find the fun.

Lena Ognissanti

Raising two kids between three languages, two countries, two cultures, and one world.