There are so many people suffering from very real crises around the world. If you’re home with young kids, you may be safe – but struggling. As I speak to my friends and clients – I hear their voices cracking with the exhaustion, the building pressures and the anxieties of what’s to come.
Although I have my moments of anxiety too, as my family members recover from the virus and some friends lost their income – I am committing to focus on my strengths, capabilities and on protecting my mindset as we settle in for long weeks of quarantine.
In some weird and bizarre way I feel as though I’ve been training for this moment my entire life. As a homeschool mom of four and a Performance Coach for parents, I’ve been developing programs and coaching parents on establishing healthy flows to their day, supporting their children’s independence and creating joy within their families.
Which is why at this time I feel strongly called to help all of us parents maintain our sanity, show up well for our children and not just survive, but do our best to thrive through this inherently challenging period.
I want to give you some tips that serve me during this time (and all year round, actually) in the hopes that they might give you the permission you’ve been looking for or the ideas that might reframe and uplift you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram @parentingjunkie if you have any questions, or in the comments below.
The truth is, there is always an underlying uncertainty in life. Life can always turn on a dime and our realities are turned inside out – but that is being pulled into clearer focus and on a global level today. That’s a great opportunity, I think, to prune what doesn’t matter, to simplify and to discover where true meaning lies for us in this life. With that said, the tips:
1// Show up for the day
Even if you’re home all day with your kids – at the very least, change out of your pajamas (and possibly into another set of pajamas, I know…). Wash your face, do something with your hair. Heck you can even break out some deodorant. I’m not asking for 9″ heels and fake eyelashes, but show up like you would to any other day when you would be seen by other people. You being home with your kids is not a “wasted” or “off” day – it’s a full on, precious day of your life and when you show up for yourself first thing in the morning – you signal to yourself that this day and your time matters.
2// Set 3 big rocks
Rather than expecting to follow some rigid new schedule – and then beating yourself up as ish hits the fan – choose three big things that can set the rhythmic tone to your day. Your children will benefit from at least some predictability, and you can rely on these “rocks” to provide a sense of control. For example: Yoga in the morning (you, even if your kids won’t join in), Lunch together around the table at noon. Bedtime routine at 6pm. Even just following these three things every day will set a sense of rhythm and order and “contain” your time. It could be a kitchen dance party, a music session with your kids or an hour of tea and books… your choice.
3// Rediscover your stock
I bet you have a whole bunch of books at home you haven’t read for months. Perhaps you can rediscover a use for toys that haven’t seen love in a while. Maybe you have a pile of crafting material you haven’t broken into yet. Or that science project you saved on Pinterest that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the time… surprise! You have the time! It’s a gift – use it.
4// Ask Your Kids To Help Around The House
Now is the perfect time to up your expectations on household help and for your kids to learn that everyone needs to chip in. If they’re used to coming home at the end of a school day to a spick and span house – now they will demystify what goes into the process as everyone needs to pull together to clear their own plates, put their own laundry away and help pick up toys. Make it fun. Put on music. Do it together.
5// Use the digital babysitter
We’ve been blessed that we live in the digital era – now is the time to cash in. If you’ve been heavily limiting screen time in the past, but feel you very much need a break – why not unwind with your kids in front of a great classic movie from your own childhood? or leave them to watch theirs as you watch yours?… I know there is so much guilt around screen usage, I’m here to give you permission. No it won’t rot your child’s brain. No, it doesn’t make you lesser-than. No, it won’t make it even harder to go back to their usual routine – now is the time to lean on whatever support you have, Netflix very much being one of them.
6// Let go of academics
Please do not worry about “keeping up”. Now is the time to enjoy special family time, to play, to rest to relax. If academics is something that’s readily available and doesn’t cause major anxiety for you and your kid – wonderful. Otherwise, make like Elsa and “Let it go!”.
You would be amazed by the amount of things children learn through play. Make play your biggest priority. It will save your sanity and teach your kids buckets. I’ve been homeschooling for years and I need to let you in on a little secret – many homeschoolers cover the entire public school curriculum in just one hour a day.
Overcoming a few weeks of missed academia is no biggie. Truly. And focusing our kids on “keeping up” when their realities have been thrown into a new energy field is unrealistic and probably unhelpful. Let’s shift the focus….
7// Focus on Joy
It’s so easy to focus on anxiety. On everything that’s not going the way we want it to. I get it. I get pulled into those thoughts too. But I want to invite you to see the blessings in this special window of time to focus on what you get to do with your kids. Baking? Reading? Fort building? Rough housing? Sip it all in. It’s just as available as all the fear and worry and it could balance some of that out, right?
8// Set boundaries
Please, for the love of toilet paper – do not burn out. Your kids cannot afford to have you losing yourself (anytime but especially now). It’s OK to create a quiet time every day where you all nap – or maybe your kid listens to an audio book or watches a movie. It’s OK to say NO to artwork right now because you can’t face the mess at this point in time. It’s OK to say “No more books! Now I’m reading my book for a while, you can play” – because you just need some time to yourself. Take it. It will allow you to continue showing up. It’s not a luxury it’s a necessity. Being with your kids 24/7 does not mean you need to connect and be present 24/7.
9// Be present for caregiving times
Take a leaf out of the RIE handbook and be particularly mindful of being present during caregiving times. Meals, bathing, diaper changes… that type of thing. While you’re looking after your littles ones – listen to them with your whole heart, make eye contact, be present. And the rest of the time – release the expectation. Sometimes you’ll have patience to play on the floor, sometimes you won’t. It’s OK as long as you’re making those “deposits” into their emotional bank account throughout the day.
10// Limit your news intake
Sure, you want to stay informed. But being glued to our screen doesn’t do anyone any good. Speculation and rumors are not truly helpful. By the time there is any solid, reliable information – you’ll receive it. You need to ask yourself: who do I serve by constantly refreshing and reading article after article of frightening news? How does this help me or my family keep afloat?
Perhaps this is a great time to dig into some awesome online course, a podcast or a book you’ve been meaning to read – not all information you consume needs to be corona related, does it? There will be a time beyond this moment and when it comes you’ll be so happy you learned something that might serve you then.
I know, COVID-19 is no laughing matter – my heart aches for all those suffering from it’s far reaching effects. Here’s our counterattack to the virus: We’ve Released The #PlayPandemic help us spread the hope, joy and flow filled days like wildfire… We’re going to meet the panic, fear and uncertainty with passion, purpose and joy. At www.theparentingjunkie.com/PlayPandemic you will get a (free, no sign in required) 28-page ebook + course. In it you’ll find an offering of guidance, reassurance and practical steps to transform your forced-seclusion and social distancing into a true family retreat.