When to use face coverings and how to make them

Here is the advice from the Gov.ie website on when to use face coverings and how to make and wear them. You can access this information and more at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/aac74c-guidance-on-safe-use-of-face-coverings/

When to use face coverings and how to make them

From Department of Health

Published at: 15 May 2020

Last updated 20 July 2020


Face coverings are now required on public transport.

Face coverings will also be required in shops and shopping centres. Regulations with details on enforcement are in the process of being drafted.

Wearing a cloth face covering is also recommended in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing, for example in shops. Wearing of cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others.

If you wear one, you should still do the important things necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

These include:

  • washing your hands properly and often
  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
  • not touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • social distancing (keeping at least 2 metres away from other people)

Read the Department of Health’s advice on how to protect yourself and others here.

Cloth face coverings

A cloth face covering is a material you wear that covers the nose and mouth.

Wearing a cloth face covering in public may reduce the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the community. It may help to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Cloth face coverings may help to stop people who are not aware they have the virus from spreading it.

If you have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or have symptoms of the virus, you must self-isolate. Do this even if you wear a face covering.

When to wear one

Face coverings are required on public transport.

Wearing of face coverings is recommended in the following circumstances:

  • when staying 2 metres apart from people is difficult – for example, in shops or shopping centres
  • by people visiting the homes of those who are cocooning
  • by people who are being visited in their homes by those who are cocooning

What they are made from

Cloth face coverings are made from materials such as cotton, silk, or linen.

You can buy them or make them at home using items such as scarfs, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Who should not wear one

Cloth face coverings are not suitable for children under the age of 13 and anyone who:

  • has trouble breathing
  • is unconscious or incapacitated
  • is unable to remove it without help
  • has special needs and who may feel upset or very uncomfortable wearing the face covering

Do not criticise or judge people who are not able to wear a face covering.

How to wear one

A cloth face covering should cover the nose and go under the chin and:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include at least 2 layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction

How to wash one

Wash daily in a hot wash over 60 degrees with detergent.

If using a washing machine, you should be able to wash and machine dry it without damage or change to shape.

You do not need to sterilise cloth face coverings. Wash it in a washing machine or by hand as you would any other item of clothing.

Wash hands before and after use.

How to make one

To make a cloth face covering at home:

  • cut two rectangles of tightly-woven cotton about 25cm x 15cm
  • fold and stitch the top and bottom edges
  • fold and stitch the side edges, leaving a gap big enough to thread elastic through
  • thread two 15cm lengths of elastic through the side edges and tie tight. Hair ties or string, cut longer and tied behind the head, will work
  • tuck elastic knots inside the edges of the mask and stitch in place for a neater finish

When to throw it out

You should throw out a cloth face covering when it:

  • no longer covers the nose and mouth
  • has stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • cannot stay on the face
  • has holes or tears in the fabric

How to use a cloth face covering properly


  • clean your hands properly before you put it on
  • practise using it so you are comfortable putting it on and taking it off
  • make sure it is made from a fabric you are comfortable wearing
  • cover your mouth and nose with it and make sure there are no gaps between your cloth face covering
  • tie it securely
  • carry unused masks in a sealable clean waterproof bag(for example, a ziplock bag)
  • carry a second similar type bag to put used masks in


  • touch a mask or face covering while wearing it – if you do, clean your hands properly
  • use a damp or wet medical mask or reuse a medical mask
  • share masks
  • do not lower your mask to speak, eat and smoke or vape – if you need to uncover your nose or mouth take the mask off and put it in the bag for used masks
  • do not discard masks in public places

Taking off a cloth face covering

To take it off properly:

  • remove it from behind – do not touch the front of the mask
  • do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • clean your hands properly
  • put disposable masks in a bin straight away

Medical face masks

Medical masks (surgical and respirator) are for healthcare workers. Some workers in specific jobs also use them. They are vital supplies and are not intended for use by the public in the community. We want to try and make sure that medical face masks are kept for health care workers.

Disposable gloves

Do not wear disposable gloves instead of washing your hands.

The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Disposable gloves are worn in medical settings. They are not as effective in daily life.

Wearing disposable gloves can give you a false sense of security.

You might:

  • sneeze or cough into the gloves – this creates a new surface for the virus to live on
  • contaminate yourself when taking off the gloves or touching surfaces
  • not wash your hands as often as you need to and touch your face with contaminated gloves


How are you doing these days?

Zeeko.ie is an organisation based in University College Dublin which was set up to develop ways to keep children and young people safe online. The Zeeko team delivers internet safety workshops to pupils, teachers and parents in over 400  schools around the country every year. They are currently involved in research into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the wellbeing of families. If you are a parent/guardian of a child or young person under the age of 18 you are invited to take part by completing the anonymous questionnaire at the link below.

Research by Zeeko

Dr Marina Everri head of research at Zeeko is leading a research project in Ireland and Italy to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family members wellbeing to develop educational programmes and interventions to sustain families. The project is being run through University College Dublin and University of Parma.

We would be grateful if you could take 15 minutes to complete the attached ANONYMOUS QUESTIONNAIRE LINK.
Only one parent/ carer per household should answer the questionnaire. The final report will be sent to your school in January 2021.

Project objectives are:

  • Identify risks and resources of families dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on family members wellbeing
  • Investigate everyday family communication practices
  • Define best practices that can inform families, schools, social and healthcare services, as well as digital media providers, to develop educational programmes and interventions to sustain families in the short and longer term.
The attached questionnaire has been approved by the UCD ethics committee to ensure your safety and security. If you have any questions feel free to contact myself joe@zeeko.ie or Dr Marina Everri marina.everri@ucd.ie. Thanking you in advance.

Doctor warns of long-term effects of Covid 19 on young people

We know that the restrictions of recent months have been very difficult for young people whose social life is so important to them. Many young people have been absolute heroes, staying home, maintaining social distance when out, doing everything they can to protect those around them.

Now that things are opening up again we cannot afford to think that life is back to what it was before this all happened. We still need to be careful, to limit the number of people we are mixing with, to maintain social distancing, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and to wear face coverings in busy places.

Although the number of new cases of Coronavirus is now much lower we can see that many of those new cases are happening among young people. It can be difficult for us as parents to get our children to understand and accept the ongoing need for restrictions. Often young people see themselves as invincible, thinking either that they won’t get Covid or that if they do it won’t do them any harm. Here is an interview which was aired on Newstalk on 24th June which might help young adults to realise that Covid-19 is still a challenge and a threat to people – young and old – in Ireland.

A Dublin doctor is warning young people that they could be left with long-term effects if they contract COVID-19.

It comes after health officials warned that 76 of the 202 people diagnosed with the virus in the past two weeks were under the age of 35.

Sixteen of those cases involved children under 14-years-of-age.

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Dublin GP Maitiú Ó Tuathail said all five of the patients he referred for testing yesterday were under 40-years-old.

He said increases in young people catching the virus are now “happening the world over.”

“They are the most social of all the groups so it stands to reason that we would see an increase in these numbers as lockdown has been, kind of, reversed,” he said.

He said the narrative that the virus only effects older people has led to younger people being too relaxed about guidelines on social distancing and face coverings.

“There has been a clear message throughout the pandemic that this is an illness that predominantly affects and kills people who are over the age of 65,” he said.

“Because that was the message that has gone out, those that are under 40 really feel like this is not a disease that affects them and what I am seeing in my practice is that that is not true.”

Post-viral fatigue syndrome

He said people under 40 are unlikely to end up in intensive care with the virus; however, they could face other long-term issues.

“I am seeing an increasing number of people that were 20 or 30 that got COVID-19 and were left with the effects of it,” he said.

“The most common one we are seeing at the moment is chronic fatigue. I have patients in their 20s and 30s that are now out of work for weeks with severe chronic fatigue because of COVID-19.

“So, it is not true that people under the age of 40 are completely immune. I am seeing people coming in with long-term effects from the virus.”

Loved ones

He said young people need to consider their older relatives when they are out and about.

“The real issue is that these people in their 20s and 30s have loved ones,” he said. “They have mothers, they have fathers and they are putting them at risk by the actions they are taking.

“There is a likelihood that you will spread the virus to a loved one who may end up in intensive care and may die and that is the message that needs to get out.”

Healthcare workers

Dr Ó Tuathail also said the INMO was not ‘far off the mark’ when it said Ireland had the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rate among healthcare workers.

“Anecdotally, I have had COVID-19, a lot of my colleagues who worked in hospitals have had COVID-19 and a disproportionally large number of nurses particularly in the nursing home sector had COVID-19

“We know in the nursing home sector, that was a mess. It was poorly managed there was an inadequate amount of PPE within the nursing home sector.”


My Hero is You

Here is a wonderful e-book about how children can be heroes helping us all to stay safe and protect each other from getting Coronavirus.

Please note that these are international stories and some public health measures referenced may differ from measures currently in place in Ireland.

My Hero is You, a story developed for and by children around the world, offers a way for children and parents to think together about the questions the pandemic raises. The story is designed to be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children. The story is also available in a range of languages here.

Here is the link to the story https://interagencystandingcommittee.org/system/files/2020-04/My%20Hero%20is%20You%2C%20Storybook%20for%20Children%20on%20COVID-19.pdf














Supporting your child’s emotional well-being on their return to Early Learning and Care

Here are some great tips for supporting your child’s emotional well-being as they return to childcare. These come from Barnardos and can be found on the Gov.ie website Let’s Get Ready – links below.

As Early Learning and Care settings reopen, you might be thinking about your child’s return to preschool, childminder or crèche. You may be looking forward to getting back to some kind of normality, but for your child the many weeks on pause will have become their new normal. There might be worries and concerns about the return to childcare and early learning. Many families have experienced and continue to experience stressful events and situations that may have been physically exhausting and emotionally draining on all members of the family. We know you want the best for your child. Below are some guidelines that may help you support your child through this important time.

Keep Calm

When parents are feeling anxious, children can notice this and begin to feel stressed too. Take the time to check in with yourself. How are you currently feeling about your child’s return to childcare? This may feel like quite a stressful time for many reasons. If these feelings are overwhelming, try pausing and taking a few deep breaths. If you can be mindful, and stay calm, you will be better able to remain connected to what your child’s needs are and be more able to respond to them. When you are calm you are more able to see the reasons behind your child’s behaviour and respond to the needs and feelings that are behind the behaviour. Ask yourself ‘What is my child feeling?’ and ‘What does my child need?’ Keep in tune with your own feelings and what you need too.

This is one simple exercise that you might find helpful:                                           

  • Pause
  • Focus on your breath
  • Breathe in slowly, right down into your tummy, then exhale completely
  • Take 5 more slow breaths, being aware of each breath in and each breath out

After several of these breaths, you will find that your heart rate has slowed down, your breathing is deeper and you feel calmer. It will relax your body and allow you to feel calmer and think more clearly. If possible, get support from your family and friends. Chat with other parents about how you and they are feeling. Try to keep up any hobbies or activities that bring you peace or that you enjoy. There are lots of great mindfulness resources and ideas on the internet that you might like to try. Having good, clear information and knowing what to expect can also help you to stay calm. You will find information and resources in the links at the end of this guide.

Communicate with your child

As their parent, you will know your child best and you are probably already aware of how they might cope with the return to preschool or crèche. Talk with your child about the plan to return and about the changes that will happen. Ask them about what they think and how they feel. Listen carefully and attentively to all they have to say and answer any questions they might have. If available, use photos of the setting and stories to help you talk about their return. Throughout the day, talk about the people from your child’s setting and the activities they enjoyed if they attended before. Join your child in play. Play helps children to make sense of what is happening in their world. Sometimes just watching their pretend play can give you an insight into how your child is feeling and what they are thinking about returning to their setting.

Communicate with your Provider and be prepared

Many children and adults find change stressful. However, as mentioned earlier, when we know what to expect, it can help to reduce this stress.

  • Talk with your childcare provider or childminder as there are likely to be new procedures in place to minimise the spread of Covid-19.
  • Ask questions about any changes that might impact on you and your child’s experiences, for example, new arrangements at drop-off time, reduced number of children and adults in the room, or changes to the room layout.
  • Help prepare your child by talking with them about these changes. Keep your voice calm and play out these new situations together in a relaxed and fun way.
  • If you and your child travel on public transport to get your childcare setting, it may be helpful to practice this journey so they become familiar with any changes such as passengers wearing facemasks or restricted seating.

Your provider or childminder will also be preparing for the return of children to the setting. To help them to support your child on their return, it is important that you share with them any information you think they should know. Tell them about what your child has been interested in during the last few weeks and what they’ve enjoyed playing with most. This will help the educators to provide some consistency, which can help reduce stress. Tell them about any stressful events in your child’s life, for example, the death of a grandparent, and discuss how your child has coped with being out of the setting and any ideas you have that will help them to settle back in. Remember, you know your own child best so keep communicating often with the educators, asking them how your child is getting on and letting them know what is happening for your child at home.

Keep to a Routine

A consistent daily routine is very important for children as it creates a sense of stability and predictability, and helps to reduce stress. This will be of particular importance when adjusting to the return to preschool or crèche. Consider ways to establish a new family routine that will work for you and your child as you move back to childcare. For example, set up a consistent time for getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. This may need to happen gradually if your child has become used to varied times. Ask the educators about the expected daily routine in the setting and share with them your child’s routine at home. This is particularly important for younger children as big changes to their normal routines are likely to lead to more discomfort and distress.

Be Understanding

Everyone has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in different ways. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the social and emotional effects of stressful situations in the lives of their families and communities, and rely on parents and caregivers to soothe and nurture them. When young children are overwhelmed by their big feelings, we typically see this show up in their behaviour. Your child might have separation anxiety and become distressed about being apart from you. They might appear withdrawn or angry, and they may also regress to a behaviour more typical of earlier stages in their development. These are normal responses to situations or events that children find stressful. Your child might not be able to put their feelings into words but it is important to reassure them that they are loved and help them to organise their feelings.

Signs of stress or trauma that you might see in your child’s behaviour and what you can do about it

Sleep difficulty (fear of falling asleep or staying asleep; nightmares)

  • Make sure there is a consistent and soothing bedtime routine (bath, reading books,
    dim light, cuddles and snuggling). Respond immediately to soothe your child if they
    have a nightmare.

Changes in how they eat (loss of appetite, refusing to eat, hoarding or hiding food)

  • Make sure meal times are calm and consistent, where the child is able to sit down
    at the table. Offer choices in foods. Don’t worry about any messiness.

Changes in toileting (constipation, stool holding, bed-wetting, ‘accidents’)

  • Reduce stress around toileting. Use books, games, or activities that are only for
    those times.
    Older children should go to the toilet regularly. Ensure that they have food that
    supports healthy digestion – fruits, vegetables, and grains for toddlers and older

Reappearance of behaviours common at an earlier age (bedwetting, thumb sucking, clinging to you, fear of strangers, baby talking)

  • Reassure your child that you are close and they are safe. Stay near. Tell them
    when you are leaving and when you will be back. If they are clingy, hold them for a
    little while longer. Encourage comfort items, like a teddy or blanket. Make sure
    there is a lot of sitting on your lap and spending time together. Encourage drawing
    or painting and pretend play as ways of expressing fears and emotions

Biting, kicking, tantrums, aggression

  • Provide safe and loving limits. Help give your young child the words to describe
    their emotions. ‘I see you are angry. You don’t want to come inside right now.’
    Redirect to a quiet area where they can calm down with you and organise their
    feelings. Read children’s books that help to show how to handle emotions.

Shows no emotion, no joy

  • Offer a hug and a sense of safety. Give your child your full attention as often as
    you can (for example, avoid being on your phone too much). Children learn by
    imitating adults. Even babies can mirror the mood of their parent. If you are having
    a lot of difficulty coping in these very difficult times, consider talking to your doctor
    about ways to support your own emotional health. You are not alone in this.

Difficulty concentrating, frustration, difficulty with changing activities

  • Reduce distractions. Set up a quiet area. Model how to calm yourself down when
    Help your child to take some deep breaths – ‘In your mind, count “1, 2, 3” for each
    breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out.’ Pause slightly at the end of each breath



Adjustment to change is a process that takes place over time. Your child’s first few days back to crèche, preschool or childminder might go really well. However, keep in mind that sometimes a child’s stress will not show until a week or so into the new schedule, so don’t be too surprised if you see signs of stress start to show later on. It is important that you plan for your child’s return to childcare and early learning to reduce the worry and anxieties for everyone involved and to help make it a positive experience. Be sure to include your child in conversations about making plans. Above all, be kind to yourself. You can only do the best you can in whatever situation you are in.

Ask for help

Talk to your child’s educator about any behaviour that is worrying you to get support and to work together on things you can try both at home and in the setting.

For more resources and ideas see https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b9cfb-ready-with-resources/

You can also download the pdf of this article here https://www.barnardos.ie/media/7863/supporting-your-child-on-their-return-to-early-learning-and-care-final.pdf


Resources for Parents at the Parents Centre on Gov.ie

For information and support on lots of issues you can go to the Gov.ie website https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/parents-centre/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/parents/

There are many useful supports available from information and advice to one-to-one support, however parents are busy and there is an overwhelming amount of information available. Parents Centre brings together new and existing resources that parents may find helpful. It provides a starting point to access high-quality, trusted information and support. Parents Centre is easy to navigate and helps parents access the information and support they need quickly.

Topics covered include:

  • Covid-19 information for parents
  • Supports
  • Parenting
  • Well being
  • Learning
  • Resources for children and young people

To access the site, just click the link https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/parents-centre/?referrer=http://www.gov.ie/parents/



Now’s a good time to teach your kids how to play on their own

With parents trying to work from home, prepare meals and deal with other children it is important that our children are able to play independently. Here are some tips on how you can help your child develop the skills to do just that. If you wish you can download the original article here https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/parenting/kids-independent-play-coronavirus-quarantine.html

Now’s a Good Time to Teach Your Kids to Play on Their Own

Independent play is a skill your kids will use for the rest of their lives — and a way to claim some time for yourself during quarantine.

(image by Haein Jeong)

“When I was a kid, there was lots and lots of free play with no parental interaction. My kids cannot be alone for five minutes. WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?”

That post was just one of many desperate pleas that came across my Facebook feed as parents in coronavirus quarantines vented online. Parents are trying to work from home while home schooling kids who came up in the era of planned play dates, packed schedules and screen time. This is new territory for many of us.

“We’re not bad parents because we give our kids tech and routine and we work,” said Meghan Leahy, a parent coach and author of “Parenting Outside the Lines.” And now, when all of those routines have been upended, we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Research has shown that our heavily scheduled lives have contributed to a significant decrease in the amount of free time kids have, so their independent play skills may not be ready for the moment we are facing.

That’s OK. With a few tools, experts say, we can teach our kids how to play more independently, which will reward them with lifelong benefits. “Independent play encourages time management, executive function and organizational skills, and emotional and physical awareness and regulation,” said Dana Rosenbloom, a parent and child educator in Manhattan. “All skills that help us be successful individuals as adults.” And, in the process, we can make our lives right now just a bit easier. “Our kids aren’t broken,” said Leahy, “but this can also be a nice time to tell them, ‘You have parts of your brain you’ve never used, and we can get there.’”

Here’s how.

“In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, it’s really natural for children to regress, which means their dependency needs” — for comfort, physical closeness, affection and communication — “are going to be paramount,” said Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., author of “Playful Parenting.” “It’s a bit of a paradox, but independence and exploration are not the opposite of dependence, safety and security. They flow from them.”

If you want your kids to feel confident enough to play on their own, Dr. Cohen said, “start the day with some really high-quality connected play. Set a timer for 20 minutes, put away your phone and say to your children, ‘I’ve got 20 minutes just for you. What would you like to do?’” And then, put yourself “at their service as a helper and a follower,” he recommended. “Don’t tell them what they should do.”

But you can encourage them. “Describe and comment on what they’re doing with no judgment,” recommended Laura Markham, Ph.D., founding editor of the online parenting resource, Aha! Parenting. “It might be a little bit boring for you, but your child’s takeaway will be, ‘Wow, my mom or dad likes to watch me play, I’m good at this.’” When the timer goes off, tell your kids, “I loved watching you play, and I can again later.” Give them a hug and go take care of your stuff. “Usually they will keep playing,” said Dr. Markham.

“For a kid who doesn’t play at all by themselves, an hour is an eternity,” said Catherine Pearlman, Ph.D., author of “Ignore It!” “Start with five or 10 minutes and grow from there.” She also recommends offering to do something with them that they really enjoy afterward.

There is a concept popular in the world of “unschooling” (a home education approach that allows children’s interests to drive learning) called “strewing”: creating prompts for play time that children discover on their own. “It’s one of the best tricks of the trade,” said Avital Schreiber-Levy, a parenting performance coach in New Jersey who has created a play guide for parents on lockdown. You put “spotlights” on toys or other objects by setting them up in an unexpected way, and then let your kids stumble upon them.

For example, create a vignette on a cookie sheet — such as a few dolls having a tea party or a group of trucks with little piles of dried beans. Sort Legos into piles by color or build half a structure. Put out a puzzle with all the pieces flipped over and ready to go.

Schreiber-Levy also recommends moving toys in and out of rotation. “When toys sit out too long, they go stale,” she said. “It’s about making them novel again, either because we take them away or we set them up in a new way.”

“Messy or tactile play — with paint, sand, clay, beads or water — is something many parents avoid, because it’s inconvenient,” Schreiber-Levy said. But, for kids, it’s “really soothing and will keep them engaged for a long time.” One way to contain the mess is to designate a space for it. The outdoors is the obvious choice, but you can also make a space inside with buckets, large trays and towels. Schreiber-Levy said her 2- and 4-year-old will play in the bathtub with shaving cream for an hour and a half, so she sets up shop with her computer on the toilet while they have at it.

“Kids are not going to sleep or behave well unless they have exhausted their body,” Schreiber-Levy said. Outside activities are great, but you can also create a safe space inside for them to tumble. Clear away furniture and then pile in soft things — pillows, cushions, yoga mats, sleeping bags. With any luck the kids will end up making a fort that keeps them entertained for hours.

“Often when parents present independent play, it’s like slamming a door on the child’s face and saying, ‘Go play outside,’” Dr. Cohen said. Instead, challenge your kids to do activities you can participate in later, like creating a piece of art for you, coming up with a surprise for another adult in the home, or building an obstacle course in the living room using cushions and chairs. “Say to them, ‘When you’ve figured it out, come show me and I’ll time you,’” Dr. Cohen recommended. “Then it’s still about connection, even though they are playing independently.”

While independent play is a “teachable skill,” Rosenbloom said, she noted that it will look different for different kids, depending on their age, as well as their developmental age.

For children with A.D.H.D. or executive functioning skills that are developing more slowly, Rosenbloom recommended using dry erase boards to help them plan out their time. “One of the greatest strengths of many people with A.D.H.D. is that they can get hyper-focused on things they love and stay engaged for a long period of time,” said Rosenbloom. Choose those things for play time. “They are going to be independent for a longer period of time if we have set them up appropriately,” she said.

And don’t compare your kids to others. “Don’t look over your fence at what your neighbors are doing,” Leahy said. “Don’t look at Instagram. If you have a neurodiverse family, don’t go to the neurotypical families and compare. Play your own game and reach out to your communities.”

“If your kids are in school all day or on a screen all day, they need to stretch their independent play muscle that may have atrophied,” said Schreiber-Levy. “We want everything to happen instantaneously,” Rosenbloom said. But, if we can understand that this is a transition for all of us and have patience with the process, she added, it will work.

And this will not only help parents get work done, it will also help reassure your child in this scary time. “Play is therapy for kids,” Schreiber-Levy said. “If kids get to construct their own worlds and inhabit them, they play out themes that are troubling them. They get to seize control and emotionally process what is going on.” That’s something we all need right now.

Kate Rope is an award-winning journalist and author of “Strong as a Mother: How to Stay Healthy, Happy, and (Most Importantly) Sane from Pregnancy to Parenthood.”


Are you seeing an increase in sleep issues during this pandemic?

Many parents are finding that their children’s sleep patterns have become disturbed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here is an interesting article from the New York Times written by Dr Craig Canapari who is director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Yale New Haven Hospital You can download the original article at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/parenting/coronavirus-kids-sleep.html

If you are struggling with your child’s sleep issues please contact your Public Health Nurse who is trained to offer you support and guidance.

Bedtime Was Hard Enough. Then Came Quarantine.

Kids across the world are having trouble sleeping. There are ways to help.

Picture Credit…María Medem


Pediatricians in Italy have seen widespread sleep disturbances, among other problems, in children during the pandemic. I wondered what sort of sleep problems our lockdowns were generating and wanted to try to help tired parents if I could. There aren’t many U.S. pediatric sleep doctors, and parents wait up to six months to see physicians in my clinic, so I took to social media and email to contact my network of parents and ask if their children’s sleep had suffered. I received more than 300 responses in one day and noticed several recurring themes.

One common issue is that children are shifting their sleep schedule later, resulting in stressed parents and children. On the other hand, Laura Jean Miller, a psychiatrist in Atlanta, wrote that her teenage patients are sleeping later but feeling well rested.

Getting up late isn’t necessarily bad, especially for teenagers. However, when young children stay up late, they can push into the only downtime left to stressed parents. Some research also suggests that later bedtimes are tied to lower long-term cognitive performance in young kids. A British team looked at 10,000 7-year-olds and found bedtimes consistently later than 9 p.m. in early childhood were associated with difficulty in reading and math in elementary school. If your child’s schedule is drifting later, keep the shift to one hour, or two for teenagers.

Longer sleep-related shifts will be harder to unwind when this is all over. Stop screen time 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime, since intense, close-up light exposure in the evening will push sleep later by suppressing the secretion of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Likewise, don’t close your child’s shades, since natural morning light may help wake her up. Take a walk or play outside first thing to start the day with sunlight that will help her circadian rhythm.

Of course, if the schedule change is working for you, it’s OK to lean into it, temporarily. One mother told me her toddler’s sleep schedule moved two hours later, shifting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., so now she’s waking up at 9 a.m. instead of two hours earlier. Now she and her partner let their daughter sleep in each morning so they can work.

Many parents said they are seeing more conflicts around bedtime or naps. Although many working parents now spend all day with their children, that doesn’t mean they are getting as much quality time with them. As we bounce between conference calls, keep up with virtual schooling, prepare food and keep the house going, children can feel neglected and needier than ever at bedtime, so they push back.

“They almost seem more starved for my attention,” wrote Lauren Assalley, a school psychologist from Taylorville, Ill., with two young children. Her husband works as a funeral director and has been out of the home for long days during the epidemic.

A kid who refuses to nap poses a tough obstacle for parents trying to work remotely. If your child is demanding more attention at nap time and bedtime, try to carve out more quality time with him during the day, difficult as it may be. Take breaks where you focus entirely on your child, even for 10 or 15 minutes, which may reduce your child’s neediness.

[Now is a great time to help your child learn to play independently and you can check out tips in our next article.  ]

Also, make sure that your evenings are relaxed. Some families have discovered leisurely evenings to be an unexpected benefit of social distancing. “We’re actually finding bedtime to be so much more pleasant, and earlier, than when we’re both working all day,” wrote Lauren Hansen, of Westchester, N.Y. If your child is older than 2 and refuses to nap, it’s OK to enforce 30 minutes of quiet downtime, even if you have to resort to giving them a screen.

Many parents complained that their kids are waking up in the middle of the night and visiting a parent’s bed more than before. This can be a sign that your child is feeling anxious or is struggling to process stress. Katherine Benvenuti, a pastry chef in Portland, Ore., opened a bakery and restaurant, named Bar King, the week that Oregon restaurants were closed down. Her 3-year-old started waking up at night for two to three hours at a stretch. She and her husband stopped talking about coronavirus around him, which has made a big difference.

“He’s not waking up anymore and he’s falling asleep more easily,” Benvenuti wrote in an email. “It’s hard to remember that, even when my children are quietly playing by themselves in the living room, they are absorbing all of what my husband and I are saying.”

Watching the news can be stressful for some children. Children also may be grieving missed birthday parties, school plays or athletic events. Acknowledge these losses and try to find alternatives. If your child is sad about not being able to have a birthday party, arrange a surprise Zoom call with family and friends.

Physical activity, especially outdoors, seems to help with all of these issues. Krystal Watson, a mother in Montana, said: “We have a daily routine that includes going outside as much as possible, and this makes a huge difference.” When they don’t exercise, she wrote, there are “restless nights.” I’ve seen this in my practice as well. Tire your kids out. Play tag. Go for a long walk. Have a dance party with your family. This will help everyone sleep better.

But there’s only so much you can do, and not every sleep issue has a simple solution. Or you may not have the bandwidth for any of this, and that’s OK. Sometimes you just need to survive. One mother in Buffalo, N.Y., whose husband is self-quarantining in the basement after a coronavirus exposure, told me she was breaking all the rules and letting her kids watch television before bed, sleep in her room and stay up late, which fixed their sleep problems.

She knows she is developing habits she will need to address when this is all over. But give yourself a break if it helps your child, and you, sleep better at night.

Craig Canapari is director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and author of “It’s Never Too Late to Sleep Train.”

Nurturing kindness

This piece on nurturing kindness in our children comes originally from the Growing Together Newsletter which is produced in Lafayette Indiana – as you might figure out from the opening paragraph. The newsletter is distributed here by The Lifestart Foundation. We may not be dealing with the level of challenges facing America at the moment but nurturing kindness is always a good idea and could even make family life easier.

If you can’t say something nice …..

No matter where your opinions fall on the political spectrum, most of us are agreed that recently we have witnessed extraordinary instances of behaviour in adults that would have been enough to get you sent straight to time-out in the typical preschool. We could start with name-calling and go straight downhill from there. Assuming the adults involved are not about to change their life-habits, I think our only hope is to concentrate on what we can do to instill behaviours of kindness in the children we are raising now.

Becoming a kind person is definitely a key to the path towards happiness. For one thing, the habit
of kindness extends to ourselves; it is hard to be happy if you’re being unkind to yourself. Establishing clear guidelines for behaviours that demonstrate being a caring community member is a far more certain predictor of future success than are the good grades that seem so important to so many parents.

So how do we nurture the attributes of kindness and caring in our

First and foremost, parents must walk the walk. You know as well as I do that children learn more by  example than by any other way. Your kids love you and want to be like you. They need to see that you are a kind person. They need to see you address others respectfully, whether family,
friends or strangers, and no matter how your patience is tried.

There is no way that you can teach kindness when you are making angry gestures at someone, yelling at the representative on the phone, or treating servers rudely. The best side effect of walking the kindness walk for your kids is that you will yourself become a happier, nicer person as well, carrying far less stress in your daily encounters.

And then, talk the talk. When you are talking with teachers in your children’s presence, don’t ask only about school work, but inquire whether your kids are good community members. Not only does this demonstrate your value system to the teacher, but it also impresses the children about the importance of kindness to their family. Who knows what the ripple effect of this would be, as the teacher reflects on how the classroom supports developing prosocial skills.

Make it part of your family dialogue to discuss individuals’ actions and their motivations. As children
consider cause and effect, they come to understand the effects of caring and kindness in their interactions with others, as well as on their positive sense of self. A child who sees herself as kind
will modify her behaviours accordingly.

Expand your circle of concern.

As parents model community service, children become aware that their caring community can expand. Gently, parents help children move out of their comfort zone and learn empathy,
understanding that others may have vastly different experiences and needs.

Appreciate and pay attention to instances of kindness both small and large demonstrated by your kids, whether within your household or beyond. Such attention acts as positive reinforcement, strengthening prosocial tendencies. When we pay attention to acts of kindness, we are likely to
see them increase.

As with everything, this is a process of teaching over time, not just something we can pencil in on
the calendar for next Monday. But think of the impact if every parent concentrated on teaching kindness!





#Hold Firm – a message for all of us from the HSE

For the last number of weeks and months, everyone in Ireland has taken steps to flatten the curve, to protect our health service and save lives. These actions have reduced the impact of COVID-19 on the country and our health service. Now we need to motivate and inspire people to keep going with those actions that help us to stay safe and protect each other.

Staying away from the people we love and the things we enjoy is not easy. It’s not us. But, this is us – taking care of each other, supporting our colleagues on the frontline and essential services, and the people most at risk in communities all across the country.


Take Care, a poem by President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins

In the journey to the light,
the dark moments
should not threaten.
that you hold steady.
Bend, if you will,
with the wind.
The tree is your teacher,
roots at once
more firm
from experience
in the soil
made fragile.

Your gentle dew will come
and a stirring
of power
to go on
towards the space
of sharing.

In the misery of the I,
in rage,
it is easy to cry out
against all others
but to weaken
is to die
in the misery of knowing
the journey abandoned
towards the sharing
of all human hope
and cries
is the loss
of all we know
of the divine
for our shared
Hold firm.
Take care.
Come home


‘Season of Fire’ 1993