Tools During New Times
***I look FORWARD to looking BACK at this .....in the PAST***
Same tools apply but in new ways … we stay curious, we get support, we deep breathe, we distract with healthy things, we use humor, we play, we show compassion to ourselves and others, we try and stay flexible instead of gripping, we keep our expectations moderate to low
(Dr. Zander is not responsible for the content of television, film, literature, websites, podcasts nor fitness referrals.
Consult your physician with any medical concerns)
YES you may feel anxious, angsty, unmotivated, disturbed, upset, the "D" word depressed, dysthymic aka - mild pervasive intractable depression.
Try not to shame yourself for these feelings. Observe them and try not to get too attached to them.
YES it is a rollercoaster with feelings sometimes consistent and sometimes coming in unexpected waves
People report feeling new low grade underlying persistent feelings of discomfort or occasional "spikes" of sadness/worry/anxiety/or unidentifiable oddness. People report lack of motivation. AND people report getting distracted by projects, work, walking, exercise, phone-calls, caregiving and entertainment that our brains need
YES you may be eating empty calorie fun foods: Doritos, donuts, Mike and Ikes...
YES you may feel alone and isolated. You will define, over time, how lonely you feel. This will not last
YES old behaviors and addictions may have a temporary uptick, it is essential that your brain sees this as TEMPORARY! (and many 12-step meetings have started Zoom meetings at the previous meeting times)
YES it is wise to limit consumption of the news, some people choose to go on "news fasts" for periods of time to clear out
YES it is important that you consume brain positive stimulus: podcasts, listening to music, listening to audiobooks that are either entertaining or joyful ( ex. The Book of Joy : Lasting Happiness in a Changing World- A dialogue between The Dalai Lama and the Archbishop Desmond Tutu) - see other options below and under Books and Authors tab
YES sleep may be impacted and that is normal, and....get back to establish vital sleep health as soon as you can:relaxing music before sleep, podcasts that help with sleep (see below in Podcast list), turn off or put on DO NOT DISTURB during sleep (and possibly 30-60 minutes before sleep), cover up piercing lights from electronics or alarms systems in your sleep area, keep a cool bedroom temperature if possible (research supports this for sleep health-depending on your own personal health and physician recommendations), sleep or meditation apps, the "Alphabet sleep gratitude list" (or ABC of cities, women's names, men's names etc.) where you list something for each letter of the alphabet- see other options below under podcasts (The listing exercise can also be used when anxious to utilize a different part of the brain to focus)
YES this is a time where we are forced to live in the present so we work on the skills that we tried intellectually to do for so very long. Try not to project, set the stage or forecast far out as it generally will serve no function anyway
YES you and your partner/ roomate/children may fight more and.... we have to keep in mind different things will make them anxious than you, we have to understand we ALL have different brain loading, neuroses and lenses
YES you will ALSO feel inspired, impressed by acts of kindnesses, thoughtfulness, tenacity, strength, creativity and the endurance of people
YES gratitude still every day - Being grateful if you are not on the medical provider frontlines, being grateful for those that are on the frontlines,
Being grateful if you are not sick nor hospitalized AND if you are sick being aware of the statistics on how many people SURVIVE
Essential tools in the belt:
*Daily exercise, indoors or outdoors depending on safety and your environment. There are plenty of indoor options (see below under "Fitness"). If you are able to get outside (even sitting outside) be thoughtful of sun damage BUT being thoughtful of the benefits of Vitamin D ( and some sun is good for the eyes recent medical research supports)
*Daily Gratitude for what you are NOT experiencing and for the safety, food, roof, support you ARE experiencing (this is also obviously exceptional modeling for children). And track small gratitudes throughout the day to keep your brain circling back throughout these days-
especially as we will be filtering through so many other Newsy and stressful messages
*Meditation- If you have not meditated before this is a perfect time to try and establish a routine with this often over- prescribed often elusive experience. There is NO perfect way to meditate. It is about getting quiet, focusing on the moment -the best we can :)-of course our minds will drift, of course we think about "to-do" lists,-that is not a problem we simply gently observe that we are "thinking" and let the thoughts flow on. NO JUDGY.. Consider "Box Breathing"- breath in, hold, breath out and then HOLD. This last arm is essential for another sense of calm. Longitudinal research has continued to support the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of meditation. Both the military and Olympic athletes have been using this "boxed breathing" with good results on de-stressing and focus.
* Quality food, water and nutrition to keep your immune system solid (see recipe tab for "clean" recipes)
* Creating a ROUTINE (of sorts) provides a good anchor, can be fluid and flexible at times, but especially for younger children at home
* Be patient and compassionate with yourself for ALL the feelings, allowing yourself to be bendy not rigid during stress (which is not easy for some!)
Optional Tools in the Belt:
Books (many more on my book tab)
Pico Iyer : Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere- writes about less typical productivity
Phap Hai : Nothing To It: Ten Ways to Be at Home with Yourself
Mystery Virtual Dinner Guest:
Nightly someone (in the family/group/roomate) sets a secret guest that evryone knows- then calls the person around the appointed time and either FaceTimes or just audios with them. The rest of the family/group/roomate has to ask yes/no questions etc. to guess who it is (If guessers ask too quickly if it’s a friend or family member the guessing goes too quickly so sometimes it is wise to take that option out of the early questions ). It stimulates lots of conversations with people you might not speak to that regularly (or friends of your kids etc.,), is fun and the mystery guests can really get into it and disguise their voices.... and it’s something to look forward to in these new and different days:). Once they figure out who it is you can all discuss highs and lows of your day or week, song a favorite song of the guest, play Would You rather....
Self explanatory- Play chess, cards, scrabble online or through Facetime - of COURSE all the game apps
Start a movie at the same time and virtually watch with someone(s)
Go for a planned "walk" with a friend while Face-timing or just audio phone
Bring Your Own Chair
As long as it is safe (and you have room) invite 1-4 people over to sit across front walkway/lawn to visit.
Watch the sunset/sunrise, light a candle for a community feeling. NO hugs-but virtual hugs a bonus, NO shared food nor drinks (unless closed/sealed of course)
Describe a trait, skill, historical fact, funny story or character trait about an extended family member and have children guess who it is. This keeps them connected and learning interesting facts about others, especially maybe older relatives who have made it through other daunting times in history
* Addition: Have an older relative specifically call and share with the family potential hardships they have overcome
(as long as it is age appropriate if little ones are listening)
Heart Healing/ Reducing Isolation:
*Flowers are starting to bloom. If you have them blooming in your yard this is a perfect time to trim some, wearing gloves, and drop at neighbors with a little note (perhaps even wrapped in rafia, ribbon, or in jelly jars with water etc.)
*A suggestion from a local citizen: Drop off "Happy Packets" to your neighbors of items that are sealed or scented soaps or lotions (helpful with ALL the hand washing;), and leave a little note. This is also a way to get to know previously unknown neighbors.
* A suggestion from across the country: Going on a Bearhunt- within a school, Temple, Church, or neighborhood community spread the word that people place different stuffed animals in their windows and children can drive/bike around with an adult looking for them, "On a Bearhunt"
* Another suggestion from across the country: Our little town is doing a social distancing Easter Egg Hunt. People are making colorful eggs from paper, cardboard posters etc. and displaying them in windows for children to drive by and find. If they have plastic eggs, they are hanging them from trees with ribbon and string.
*Humming game, where each person hums a song and the others guess what it is
*Old fashioned charades for objects, favorite, books or shows
*Build a fort together, under the dining table, between two chairs, using blankets, sheets, cushions, flashlights, their favorite toys or books- have your lunch or dinner in there
(ALL listed here have Adult Content, for reviews on age appropriate content please consult Common Sense Media):
Coordinate with friends and family members to shares experiences. You can use Netflix Party, a Chrome extension to share a movie experience on Netflix.
* See Films Tab for Inspirational or Family Dynamics Films*
(Even repeats of old shows, good stand-up, whatever helps you escape and creates laughter:
Research supports that laughter promotes health)
Parks and Recreation
Blades Of Glory
Best in Show
The Other Guys
School of Rock
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
21 Jump Street
The Princess Bride
Little Miss Sunshine (dark humor, emotional family themes)
Equal Parts- parents working from home/sharing parenting duties
Moviewallas (Film Critiques)
TED Talks Daily- various stimulating subjects
Sleep with Me ( Help with sleep)
Boring Books For Bedtime -for the sleepless and stressed out
Nothing Much Happens- bedtime stories to help you sleep, read by a yoga and meditation teacher
The Dream- Entertaining deeply researched look into Multi Level Marketing Schemes/Pyramid/Ponzi schemes
Environments App.- Good for relaxation and nature sensation, good background while working from home
***** Apple has a COVID-19 screening app made in conjunction with the CDC*****
Fitness Blender- lots of online choices
Core Power- many choices for members and some free options for non-members (last I checked) and they have a few live classes daily
Ginseng Yoga San Diego- Trial Membership and new Online Classes
Daily Burn- 60 day Trial Membership-Variety
Individual Trainers -are offering group training sometimes relatively inexpensively or private training for more
There are loads of YOUTUBE Yoga and fitness classes
****This not an exhaustive list of resources and is a short non-prioritized list among many options.
Dr. Zander has no financial gain from listing these resources****
Reminder: all children up till about age 13 are pretty inoculated from some of the heavy developmental impact of this.:)
Older children will regain their footing with academics, social arenas and athletics/hobbies
Your children will have good takeaways from these awful experience.
I applaud ALL OF YOU who are working at home with young children at home!
You are an impressive group within this special time.
We are putting on a new tool belt in this time but applying a lot of the same familiar principles as in Pre-C times. Staying curious, staying pliable, not expecting to be a perfect parent, reflect / mirror our children’s feelings, finding rays of sunshine, taking breaks, asking for help, getting normalized. We tell our children that we spoke to our friend or parents or someone today and that made us feel good. We tell our children we read before we fell asleep and that felt good, we watched relaxing show, took a relaxing shower/bath. We tell our children the way that we do self-care, use our tool belt, that they may not see.
On a positive note Ned Johnson, president of Prep Matters and co-author of “The Self-Driven Child,” wrote recently for On Parenting: “Neuroscience shows that it is adversity in life, dealing with tolerable challenges and stressors, that wires the brain for resilience.”
If you think of yourself, family members or friends that survived adversity..many, if not all, show resilience, fortitude and maybe creativity through strife. ...and if nothing else they know how to get good support or pay for good help.
There are lots of perspectives, we try and choose our lens most of the time, unless we are in dire trauma
One of my ongoing perspectives is that I am grateful I am not in the hospital, I am grateful I am not working on the frontlines today. I am grateful my children are not working on the frontlines today…we still find our broad perspective …every day… The fact that we are home is usually a good sign that we are not in crisis danger.
Also the fact that both California and Washington are slowing the impact and that we’re actually seeing better updates in New York will help our brains. We discuss with our children, who are old enough to know what’s going on, about all of the survivors that are already telling their stories - just like with other illnesses. We discuss the willingness of healthcare workers to go in there every day and fight for life and bring comfort to families. We discuss the generosity of community members and musicians putting on concerts and giving back.
YES we let our children hear both, that we are grateful and that this is tiresome, that we are grateful for our job, a bed, hot water, roof and ....and sometimes we get tired of being inside, not seeing friends and family, and we get bored too.
And we try and reflect and relate to our children’s feelings, we do not need to always be Susie Sunshine. If they say they’re bored we can also say we understand what it’s like to be bored and then maybe find solutions. If they say they are angry, they’re missing school, or their friends we can say we are sad or angry about that as well and then we MoveOn.
YES this is a bit of a twilight zone
YES remind children what is going to stay the same, that these changes are often very temporary and know that you parents are going to have to act /pretend more than usual which sucks. Try your best to let them know/remind them of the things that WILL NOT be changing (bedtime stories, meals, playtime, parents in charge, their pets love etc.) and all of the things THEY CAN still do: sing, dance, play music, make up skits, build with their toys or cups and plates, draw, invent, call friends and family etc.
YES Of course try and create structure routine of sorts with flexibility. Kids need to see both structure and.. they need to see your willingness to bend and not be rigid.
****We try and breathe and read something positive before we get out of bed in the morning we try and set the tone for the day! And we let our children see us do this or we tell them that we do this so they see that we can try and set the tone for ourselves. So much is out of our control, as in Pre-C times, so we help teach them the ways we try and manage what we can control ....which is what we feed our brain when we start our day (and before bed).
YES it is tough that EVERY day may be different with kids moods and needs (and parents moods and needs;) and yes that is hard and yes we try for ongoing adaptation and if you have a partner or a family member in the home - we try and have a shared wink or fun code word about how wild this is.
We share these codes in connection, despite frustration and little time to process with each other, knowing you have someone on your side, going through it with the exhaustion and tension of managing both work and children at home.
I did not to say “balance” because balance suddenly forced on us is hard to achieve, we should expect to be imbalanced and glad if we get through most days with our integrity of how we treat others and our humor intact.
YES what u already know: if we have a partner we try and trade off childcare times we can truly focus uninterrupted to get quality work versus half work and half child (but feeling not present at either) - that is realistic.
Supervision will vary with each of you and likely will vary day to day…it can’t be always evenly divided .... you’re pre-bed or morning meetings, to decide primary times of importance with work, will hopefully keep the communication up and not have to be so spontaneous
YES you will likely argue more with your partner. Yes you may question that you have ended up on this life raft with this clown! And we assure children that parents fight or have strong words just like the children might with siblings or peers at school.
YES people on tele-meetings will meet your kids and your dogs ...or hear them anyway. Yes there may be awkward moments and tons of technical glitches
****The benefit is that We will all see how human WE are****
*YES Assure young children that the Adults are handling this changing time and that this is short…… they have a different view of time so even one day may feel very long to them (and parents;). You can give them an example that this may be as short as the time between the Winter Holidays and....Summer flowers or Bunnies being born. Or the Time Between school starting and New Years, whatever you feel is realistic but puts it in perspective with things they understand. You can clarify that life is likely to feel more "normal" (of course this varies depending on the health of their family and friends) by X time. Example: By Halloween, By Summer, By their animals birthday etc. Whatever feels relatively realistic depending on the ever-changing news.
YES Young children are fairly inoculated and pliable …
Unless there is trauma or loved ones pass away during this...For the most part this should not have a lasting developmental impact on your young children Even teenagers will be resilient...age 12/ 13 on then we discuss how this might impact their hobbies, social, academic etc.
* YES you will likely lose your temper and your patience more than usual - don’t expect yourself to be super parent at this time
YES get normalized by other parents - don’t keep this pain and impatience private
YES your children are likely to have more screen time during this time, again that’s temporary and probably patience saving for you and your child
Watch having the news on even in the background at home …take some news fasts for you and the kids try not to start your day with news whether online or on the TV the best you can make sure you’re meditating / listening to music/ stretching/snuggle/read book..set the tone for your self -your children see you do that as well - when you wake up can you smile in order to send a message to your brain of how that you greet the day…… and that you don’t feed your brain immediately with disturbing information
DO Daily Triage: first immediate concerns always keeping the foundation in mind : meaning taking care of the parents foundation the best we can (we know this was hard Pre-C) and keep telling ourselves it’s temporary temporary temporary- oxygen mask on the parents first
DO Consider naming the virus something else calling it virus but giving it a silly name that’s not scary for kids not as bad as Voldemort or the big bad wolf
DO Remind older kids that as a nation, and sometimes within their family, we’ve gotten through things like this before whether it was polio or plagues or tuberculosis, even gas lines in the 70s- We are currently in a much stronger connected nation in terms of communication options and overall financially stable than in PREVIOUS times..
(On my webpage I discuss having older friends or family call In and share some other survivor stories -good for these kids to be reminded)
-A keyword I’ve heard over and over again that people bring up to me is that they’re feeling unmotivated. There’s going to be a variety of times and a variety of reactions -rest assured you’re not alone if you’re not wanting to clean out your garage, try that new recipe, finally finish that quilt, plant that garden and rebuild that car!!
-New York Times article from April 1 finally addressed that issue to stop trying to be productive, by Taylor Lorenz... it’s enough to stay home and try and work and take care of kids and eat and do dishes (over and over and over again)!!!
Stop trying to be extra productive
Of course different energy levels, different personalities are going to vary with each child, again this is a reminder that this is not your time to totally shine as a parent. This is your time to take a deep breath and keep reminding yourself this is temporary and that you won’t be remembered only for this parenting time and especially with the really young - under maybe five or six -this is a time they will barely recall.
The overall message : give yourself a break.
Same tools apply but in new ways … we stay curious, we get support, we deep breathe, we distract with healthy things, we use humor, we play
equal parts: podcast - Equal Parts is a podcast for working parents who are trying to balance it all while caring for the people they love — including themselves. Being a working parent is hard. But you do it for the ones you care for, because they're the ones you care most about. You can never be prepared for everything that is thrown your way — whether at work or at home. But, the Equal Parts podcast will try to make this a little easier for you. We will talk to experts, authors, and parents who will share their insights, advice, and tips on how to navigate parenthood and professionalism — at the same time.
PARENTS WITH ADULT CHILDREN BACK HOME
In an attempt to NOT drive each other crazy all day EVERY day
*STILL knock on their door before entering their room (if they have their own room), if they have space in your room or the living room etc. still try and respect their space
* PLEASE give them space as they adapt to missing their peers, their privacy, their flow at school or jobs or travel
*This is an opportunity to FINALLY be able to have the elusive "family dinner" as no one is running off to jobs, sports, music, clubs etc. as it might have been in high school/summers- and in that vein allow (aka command;) that the "kids" make dinner, lead dinner, plan meals etc.
* This is NOT an opportunity for parents to over-parent and do all of the household tasks for these lovely adult children *THEY SHOULD be helping WITH DOMESTIC DUTIES otherwise we are handicapping them/moving them backwards on healthy normal adult responsibility (of course this is a bit awkward as everyone settles into this new/old norm with routines and expectations and it with evolve)
* Siblings will fight/bicker, these are special stressful times and many children are forced back into old roles at an unexpected time. This is not holiday time when many siblings are use to returning home- with the joyous distraction of the holidays and possibly extra extended family around. Old themes and teasing may return, old hierarchies may return with the youngest chafing at being the "baby' when they have become more independent outside the home. All children returning home may be in that limbo of being independent outside the home and now wondering how much do they "help' in the home, how "adult" are they? (A theme that has been played out time eternal but these ARE very special times).
There has never been research, nor a template, for how this will play out developmentally for this subgroup robbed of their natural rhythms of separation/individuation.
*Discuss any scheduling or plans for the next day- especially as students enter online classrooms, tutoring, planned phone online chats with friends. This keeps connection, creates a sense of routine and a feeling of normalcy.
* Stay in touch with your friends, your hobbies (that you can), your own privacy when you can
*Have empathy and compassion for the fact that they feel this is a regressive stage
ADULT CHILDREN BACK WITH PARENTS/FAMILY
* It is okay to set boundaries with your parents around topics that are off-limits, criticisms and intrusions- A simple "request" that helps you feel safe
*DO offer to help establish community chore lists and what you expect to do (this helps get them off of your back and helps them feel encouraged that you can be on top of it yourself without them having to monitor and manage as much -keeping in mind they are adapting too-especially if they have "empty nested")
* Consider initiating time with the family so that you can also feel good about initiating private time
* FINALLY reading some of the classics, re-reading old favorites, watching TED talks for stimulation
* Establish a routine, this can be flexible but it is good to have an outline as an anchor and report it to someone if you are having a hard time being accountable
*DO call older or isolated family members
* Your family/parents may drive you a bit crazy and even be disappointing especially as you have (or are) establishing your life outside the home
* Be thoughtful in engaging in conversations around politics/religion/the economy at this crucial time, especially if your parents expect you to endorse their beliefs and have a hard time understanding that you may be establishing your own beliefs
PARENTS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN:
*Please see the Books and Authors Tab for book referrals
*Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, online learning and more - The Washington Post 3/25/20
* 7 Ways to Keep Your Kids Healthy and Learning at Home During School Closures- momtrends.com
*https://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html different age subgroups ( look at the stages)
*Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, online learning and more..(.good but a little outdated DUE to the evolution every day ByAmy Joyce and Mari-Jane Williams March 25, 2020
*YES Try your best to let them know/remind them of the things that WILL NOT be changing (bedtime stories, meals, playtime, parents in charge, their pets love etc.) and all of the things THEY CAN still do: sing, dance, play music, make up skits, build with their toys or cups and plates, draw, invent, call friends and family etc.
*YES Assure young children that the Adults are handling this changing time and that this is short, they have a different view of time so even one day may feel very long to them (and parents;). You can give them an example that this may be as short as the time between the Winter Holidays and....Summer flowers or Bunnies being born. Or the Time Between school starting and New Years, whatever you feel is realistic but puts it in perspective with things they understand. You can clarify that life is likely to feel more "normal" (of course this varies depending on the health of their family and friends) by X time. Example: By Halloween, By Summer, By their animals birthday etc.
Whatever feels relatively realistic depending on the ever-changing news.
* YES you will likely lose your temper and your patience more than usual - don’t expect yourself to be super parent at this time
YES get normalized by other parents - don’t keep this pain and impatience private
YES your children are likely to have more screen time during this time, again that’s temporary and probably patience saving for you and your child
* Consider Old fashioned Simon Says to keep young minds busy and let them be Simon/Simone, always fun for children to see parents mess up:)
*Create an "Olympics day" of various activities in various areas of a room, apartment, house
*Build a fort together , under the dining table, between two chairs, using blankets, sheets, cushions,
*Make a mess of the table day, where they can play with their food
* Let them teach you something
*Call family and friends and have them read books for them when you need a break or just for delight of the kids and sometimes elder people
Educational Online Options:
Epic! is a digital library for students that now has free membership.
Check out the wonders of our plant with the National Geographic Kids website for videos, experiments, and games.
Students can become film makers using their mobile video and camera. Movie making editor apps like iMovie or Windows Photo App
Class Central, an online course aggregator, compiled a list of more than 400 classes in Humanities, Science, Computer Programming and Data Science, Art and Design, and many others.
Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
Libby by Overdrive gives you access to your local library or any library you have a library card for. Borrow ebooks and audiobooks instantly on your mobile, tablet or Kindle.
- How do you let go of the guilt associated with either de-prioritizing work or not spending time with your child? Same tools you have been using. Accepting the ongoing feeling that you can NOT do both perfectly, let alone even very well. Work will keep adapting, as it should. We say we try “good enough” ....research even supports this and we hope for the “overall” good, meaning that your children will get an overall gestalt of your parenting and your love and your authenticity. Yes they will remember hard moments, disappointments etc. AND they will distort some of the harder times and times they got in trouble etc., we can not control their perception in “Pre C” time, we certainly can not during a world crisis. They will have their own stories they tell themselves about their upbringing and we can not white wash that for them. They will have their lens, their vision. What we can do is listen to their concerns, not be saccharine or sugar coat their feelings, we can mirror and reflect their concerns (just like wonderful Mr. Rogers, if you have seen the films about him and how he hung in there reflecting chidlren's feelings and he didn’t always get to the positive too fast) .....And we try to sometimes be lighthearted (not too defensive) about our children's perceived injuries from you when they re-tell the stories later.
- There’s a lot of pressure to continue performing at work and to take care of your child on top of that. The only way I've managed to "keep up" is by working nights and weekends, and that's honestly not sustainable - what are some suggestions you have to figure out our "new normal"? This is tough, every family is different and every household has unique pains and concerns. What is not unique right now is wanting to have a quality life for your children, keep financial stability, and find space to breathe occasionally. Something usually has to give and right now you’ve got to keep your mental health, oxygen mask on the parent first. So you let work know you will need to break.
- How do you strike a healthy balance with your spouse to ensure neither feels like their work is being de-prioritized? This “balance; may come and go. I would suggest to my couples that they have a meeting, however short, 1-2 times a week under “normal Pre-C conditions.” We know these are not normal times (although we are all trying to adapt to our "new normal”). Currently, I would suggest a short debrief almost daily, before you get into bed or before you start your day, if you can, on what seems to be working , what is not working.... while being careful not to trauma compete, meaning try not to compete for who has it worst. Still affirm your partner for their efforts and for their attempts to adapt. Then also make requests for what would feel good to you —a request is different than a command, criticism or a disappointment. Along with this we work not to expect things to move smoothly……..This is an ongoing project under-construction with new blueprints sometimes daily. Under stress we tend to regress so we try and stay compassionate with how our partner is processing this new experience and with ourselves and not expect our wisest selves to be uploaded all the time. We see a sense of humor and come up with lighthearted ways to signal that we are tapping out, getting resentful/ feeling put upon, or minimized. It can be a simple word, a gesture to show that you are upset, stressed or tapping out. And not the middle finger gesture! We try and communicate BEFORE we get to threat level red. We try for yellow or orange level of upset or put another way we try and communicate BEFORE we get to level 10 stress, we try for around 6/7. We keep in mind that our partners brains operate differently under stress, we all take in and store information differently.
- This new normal of expectations around parenting and working flowing back and forth by the minute feels really hard to navigate and leaves very little time for me to re-fuel/re-fill my own cup. I am getting incredibly drained and even though my effort has increased exponentially, the output that I am able to create seems to be dropping. I also feel like I am not able to be as effective of a professional or as a mom with trying to balance both things all in one day without any boundaries. (A lot of these are specific to having a younger child that requires a lot more hands on attention and super vision). First we breathe. We teach our children to take a breathe when they are stressed. We tell them what we are doing and why, “Mommy/Daddy is taking breath so I don’t get too feisty, so i don’t do something impulsive, so I respond instead of react (if you have kids 8 or older- maybe even as young as 5/6 can understand ) .We ask them if they want to play legos or color beside you while you do yoga, workout, read, meditate etc. (if they need connection and you cannot find time/room to be separate). Next we show acceptance and compassions for ourselves especially with the fact that OUR OUTPUT and PRODUCTIVITY will change. Our ability to be fun, present and patient with our kids may go down (at the very time we feel it should be stellar). One of the things I tell clients with younger kids at home is to NOT expect yourself to be your best self during this time.
- On the issue of parenting, how do you explain the current situation to older kids to convey the seriousness without increasing anxiety? We clarify this is an ever evolving situation so we’re erring on the side of safety. Period. We look at recent and past history to inform us. If their anxiety or fears increase we do reflect their feelings.....we don’t pretend it’s not an uncertain time. And one more time we say it’s temporary. And importantly we remind them of how many people have overcome and come through crises or big medical issues before. We have them speak with more experienced friends or family that dealt with survival. Whether in a health crisis, war, recession or depression era. If they haven’t experienced it we have others tell stories of their parents/grandparents who did survive.
We do talk about how it IS HARD to be in limbo, how these are all the same skills we use in Pre c times overlaid more in this time
We do talk about making drawings of rainbows, eggs, hearts, spring whatever to put in windows to say “hi” to the neighbors
We read and stories of survival and ingenuity like Little House on the Prairie
We do walk about making up songs while we cook and do dishes. We do help them “help us” by sweeping, putting their dishes in the sink and laundry towards the laundry room
We do have grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, preschool teachers call and chat with our kids if we need a break or they simply need new stimulus.
We do accept children in our laps during meetings
We can set timers and let children know when they will have your undivided attention again, even if it is short,
We do hope that others / co workers, team leaders are bendy not rigid
***Focus on what they’ve gained and not just what they’ve lost. Of course we should witness and reflect their losses but it’s not only a loss .. it is an expansion in the community and creatively with people putting bears in their windows for BEARHUNTS, happy signs in windows, people shopping for others, people donating their time, people paying for masks for healthcare workers, people clapping for healthcare workers...this is a time for Skype or Zoom Passovers and Easters.
We gain innovation and endurance.
***We breathe again and stay compassionate with imperfection, it’s very good for children to see us laugh at ourselves, say we are still learning and admit we make mistakes (whether with planning, expectations etc) we remind them we are TRYING***
THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DEVELOPMENTAL TIME LIKE THIS-
THIS IS A TIME FOR COMPASSION FOR OTHERS AND YOU