Many of us are in foreign territory right now, but it is important to keep some normalcy - for your sake and for your family.
Right now, at least for me, my kids are putting on brave faces. I know they are at least mildly perturbed by what is happening, but they honestly probably don’t know how to act. None of us really do. Do I show my kids that I am a little scared? Do I act like we are invincible and will overcome this against all odds? I don’t have the magic answer. What I do know is that my kids look to me for guidance, and they also look to me for a sense of truth and reality.
I have always been the parent that is 100% honest with my kids. I don’t tell white lies (well, except for Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny), I apologize when I know I have been a jerk, and I am honest about my feelings. If I blow up at my kids for something that is honestly quite minor, I immediately tell them that I am sorry, and explain why I acted the way I did. Many parents feel that this would diminish the “respect” we feel we deserve as parents, but it has worked out the exact opposite for me. My kids have the utmost respect for me, and I think it is because I show them respect as well. They know I am human, and I allow them to be human too.
With that being said, I think it is important to share how you are feeling about the current pandemic, but within reason. Be honest with yourself; if you are panicking and hoarding, your kids already know and are probably very stressed out by it. So stop. You aren’t helping them, and you certainly aren’t helping yourself or society. But what about fear? If you can show your children that you have fear and uncertainty, but are able to move forward each day against some uncertain odds, that is called BRAVERY. We are the most resourceful species on the planet. Let’s act like it!
If we let this cripple us and keep us frozen in our tracks, we aren’t showing that we can rise above adversity and come out on top. That is where growth lives. In change and in uncertainty.
Now that most of us are home with our kids, trying to navigate this new landscape, it’s easy to slip into the fear of adding another role onto your plate. This doesn’t have to be scary. There are so many resources out there!
The most important thing to remember is that kids do best with structure. They have been waking up at the same time every day for years, have had the same morning routine and daily cues that have helped them flourish into the people they are today. To abruptly change that structure is inevitably going to cause some issues. So don’t change the structure!
Here are some tips to keep things moving somewhat normally around the house:
Have your kids write down their daily schedule, from what time each subject begins and when they have breaks, etc. Keep this schedule. If you can’t find enough content to fill the time, it’s ok to have breaks and allow free time. We are just trying to retain some sense of normalcy.
Ask them what new skill or subject they would like to try out. Maybe have them give you 3 options. Some suggestions could be a new language, a new sport, drawing, etc.
Anytime they have a free spot in their schedule, like snack or lunch, try to mimic that as best you can.
Let them sleep in a little bit. Our kids’ schedules are so full that their bodies aren’t as healthy as they could be. Sleep is the biggest immunity booster!
Yes, I’m going to say it…allow them screen time. This isn’t prison. They need a way to connect with their friends, a way to let their minds be numb for a little while. It’s ok. The world will not fall apart. Just set some limits on how long you are comfortable allowing them to be on their phones/tv/video games. In our house it is 1 hour per day.
Find a family activity that you can do each day. You are home. Take advantage of this time with your kids that you don’t normally see very often! Board games, cards, projects…they are all great ways to connect and bond with your kids. Maybe take a walk on their lunch break, especially if you are having to work from home. You need breaks too, and what a wonderful way to fit that time in with your kids!
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Please take time for yourself. We will touch on self-care in another post, but please know that you are still the most important person in your life. It is easy to get caught up in caring for everyone else, but if you don’t take care of YOU, you can’t do that. Take at least 30 minutes a day alone. No kids, no spouse, no pets. Just YOU. Take a walk, take a bath, meditate. Whatever you can do to reset. You’ll be a much better parent, and be a happier human.
Life is funny. No, really. Take a step back. We, as a society, are constantly on the run. We are inundated with information, activities, emotions…we run so fast that WE are passing life by, not the other way around. Life is telling us right now to STOP. Just STOP. We have basically been hit over the head with a frying pan. We have no other option now than to stop how we were living and be forced to slow down.
So let’s cherish that. Let’s look at this as a time to reconnect, a time to enjoy our families, nature and ourselves. We are all in this together. If you have any tips or advice you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you!