This may be a bit outside my normal post, but in the end, I am here to remind you that we are in this together. I, for one, am not a homeschooler. Last week I found myself in a bit of what I can best describe as a surreal dream or frankly, a shit show. I felt myself resisting the change and I didn’t want to grieve the loss of life as it was before this virus came along. Today, I no longer feel that way. I have mourned the fact that my babies probably won’t be returning to their school anytime soon. I have let go of what I can control and focused on what I can. I have taken it upon myself to lay out a few helpful tools that help me feel safe, secure and organized, so that I can reestablish some sense of normalcy for my kids.
I wanted to share those with you today in case you too, find them helpful:
Less is more.
Children don’t need a rigid routine to feel safe, but they do need structure. I have seen so many posts about allowing excess tv time, snacks and pajamas all day during this isolation period. While that sounds fun and all, it really can add anxiety and stress to an already uncertain situation. Children (and you) need a few aspects in the day to depend upon. Pick a few “musts” out and be sure to stay consistent. For us, I didn’t want everyday to feel like the weekend. So Monday through Friday we get up, get dressed, and brush our hair. We set the tone for the day. I have what I call a “soft routine” that includes prayer, the pledge, an art activity, outside play, and lots of room for independent exploration. I have also set aside a half hour of tv or screen time. Finally, we have a snack basket where both girls can pick out one fridge and one pantry snack for the day. I am not too concerned about the standard academics right now like math, reading or writing. But my kids are only 3 and 5. If your children are a bit older, maybe you set aside a few blocks during your “soft routine” for the distance learning stuff your teacher is providing. What you need will look different from us. But in the end, a child can’t learn unless they feel safe first. Safety includes a ton of play within a semi structured environment that works best for your family.
Assign a Task.
My kids love to help. At school, they assign each student a task for the week to be responsible for. This week, my oldest is my “sous chef.” She chops veggies and helps prepare things in the kitchen with me for mealtime. My youngest is in charge of setting the table and wiping it after we eat. Next week we plan to rotate in gardener (water the plants) and trash “taker outer.” Other ideas include making the bed, folding clothes, vaccuming or caring for a pet. Whatever it is, be sure it is something that occurs frequently during the day so that your kiddos are able to help. Don’t expect it to be done perfectly. Just build them up and show appreciation along the way.
You will get on each others nerves. You will lose your patience. But please, please, look for the good right now. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. However when you feel that explosion coming on, do your best to take a few deep breaths. If you do explode, focus on the repair and not the rupture. Our children and partners know we are human. Apologize and try again. Reconnect. Play and cuddle. I have some guided breath work and meditations for you if you would like to include this in your day somehow. Otherwise, give yourself grace and forgiveness, and move forward. You are doing the best you can. Hugs.
Focus on today.
I learned this in AA, and I hold tight to it everyday. There is no sense in drowning in your thoughts over what next week, month or year will look like. Yes, we need to prepare, yes we need to be mindful, yes we need to take extra measures to do our part. However I believe a majority of anxiety is rooted in the thoughts of the future. Instead, when you feel your body tense up, and your mind flood with overwhelm, pause. What is the next thing you have to do? Maybe it is making lunch? Maybe it is starting bath time? Maybe it is shutting down your phone or computer and going to bed? Maybe it is moving your body for a few minutes? Just do the next thing, and the next, and the next. We will get through this.
I shared about this a bit already on my social media, but I want to remind you that boundaries don’t disappear during times of crisis. In fact, they still need to be rooted deeply in your actions, words and choices. It is okay to send a call to voicemail if taking it in that moment is too much for you, it is okay to decline a play date, it is okay to not financially support someone when you simply can’t right now, it is okay to care for yourself in ways that you need to. Give yourself permission to put you and your family first. That doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you mindful of the work and healing you have done thus far. This also includes boundaries with your children. Remember, you can serve your children without catering to them. Everyday doesn’t have to be a day filled with Pinterest crafts, outdoor adventures and gluten free recipes. Some of the best play for children is found within boredom. Foster their little curiosity by sticking to your “soft routine” and allowing them to do the rest. They are capable. 🙂
That’s it for now. I know one day we will look back on this with gratitude. But it does feel pretty heavy today, yes? Let me know if you apply any of these tips, and be sure to forward or share this with anyone you’d like.
Yours in healing,