Uncharted TerritoryPosted by Susan Ortiz on 3/26/2020
The Covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented. All of us are experiencing the effects of mandatory social distancing, children home from school, working from home, or even worse, loss of a job (and income) as a result of many workplaces closing their doors. We are worried about staying healthy, keeping our homes safe, and we are uneasy about what seems like an uncertain, scary future. In the midst of this, we still have to parent. What are some ways we can cope as parents when our lives have been turned upside down?
- Create a consistent but flexible daily routine. It's tempting to let structure go by the wayside when our daily routines have been upended; however, it helps all family members to know what to expect from each day. Try to establish and maintain consistent bedtimes, mealtimes, etc. Determine what "school" hours are while keeping in mind that your home is NOT school. No one is expecting children to be engaged in school work for full days like they are at school.
- Spend alone time with each of your children doing something they enjoy: reading a book, playing a board game, watching a favorite tv show. Use this time to get to know your children in ways that weren't really possible with demanding school and work schedules.
- Get everyone moving!! Run around in your backyard, take a walk (as long as you are able to do this while maintaining appropriate social distancing), watch YouTube dance/exercise videos, make up an exercise routine, put on some music and dance! Remember, children (especially young ones) are built to move!!
- Try to stay positive! Inform yourself as much as you need to in order to stay safe but avoid a steady stream of back-to-back news coverage. Now's a great time to check out those family movies you have been wanting to watch. Pluto TV (free streaming service) has some fun, classic family-friendly sitcoms. Remind yourself that this, too, shall pass.
- Take time for yourself. I'm sure you are asking, "How is that possible with a house full of kids, work to do, etc." Well, it may mean being a little creative: Waking up a few minutes before everyone else, going and standing outside for a few minutes to get sun and fresh air, calling or skyping a friend, even going to the bathroom can be respite if need be!! If you can't score some time alone, practice deep breathing. That can be done anywhere and at any time.
- Practice lots and lots of grace -- for your children and for yourself. Remember, even if your children (especially younger ones) do not fully understand what is happening, they do understand that their routine has been upended and that their caregivers are stressed. Keep this in mind if children begin to act out or regress. Children need reassurance that they are safe and that everything will be okay. Remember, too, that you are doing the best that you can under very difficult circumstances. Be kind to yourself, too.