With the increasing spread of coronavirus and the likelihood that families are going to experience being in self-isolation, I expect that parents will feel increased stress as they and their children are required to remain in their home for a period of time.
In many ways this becomes a parent's worst nightmare: an experience more challenging than the school holidays.
Families in self-isolation are expected to stay at home, parents do not go to work and children do not go to school nor attend any other activities outside the home.
No family members can use any form of public transport: busses, trains, planes or taxis.
There are to be no visitors to the home and groceries or other necessities need to be dropped at the door and the deliverer should be at least two metres away before you open the door.
All members of the family should wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds each time. Shared facilities such as toilets and bathrooms should be cleaned every day and if possible, use antiseptic wipes to clean surfaces at each use, particularly if one family member has the virus.
If possible, make sure each family member sleeps alone, and again this is more important if a family member has the virus. Children can play outside as long as this is possible within the boundaries of the family property and as long as they are able to remain at least two metres away from anyone who might be passing by.
Older children are likely to be given school work to do while in self-isolation. Many parents find it really difficult to supervise children who need to do school work, so setting up a routine and providing rewards for time spent working might help.
For example, it might be useful to make the morning school work time (with a break for morning tea) and have more flexible activities in the afternoon.
Contact with school friends through skype / facetime/zoom or other electronic means in the afternoon after school work is completed might be a carrot that encourages children to establish a helpful routine.
When there are younger children in the house who do not have school work to do, parents might need to find quieter activities for them that support a "work atmosphere".
Younger children might engage with parents in story times, drawing, playdough, craft activities and other quiet games with the promise of more active opportunities in the afternoon.
Being home together might also create opportunities for the whole family to work together on chores or tasks needing to be done.
For example, it might be the opportunity for everyone to help clean out that spare room that has been cluttered for years, or tidy the garage, sort out all the old and broken toys, or catch up on the weeds in the garden.
Families might also be able to share meal preparation, with time to experiment with different dishes, different tastes and different foods.
With time to spend together, children might be supported to learn to prepare and cook simple dishes, to bake biscuits or cakes and to experiment cutting vegetables into different shapes for snack time.
Playing board games together as a family can also be fun, and if you do not have many of these you can always use the time together to make some. Scrap cardboard (from the box in which your groceries were delivered to you) can make a great twister board, your own version of a monopoly board or draughts board.
You can make skittles out of toilet-roll inners (assuming of course you are one of the lucky families that have toilet paper!). Family movie time is an opportunity to all share a good story together, perhaps with your own home-made snack.
I suspect that as the Australian winter deepens the requirement to self-isolate and will impact on many families.
It would be nice if that experience, whilst stressful of course, could also be an opportunity for family members to reconnect with each other, to spend some enjoyable time together, and hopefully we can come out of the experience stronger and more connected with each other.