So we’re in a really weird time right now. Schools are out. People who can are working from home. Restaurants are carry-out only, and people are begging for family-fun things to do, if they aren’t exhausted from working from home while helping their children with their e-learning. There are also those who are trying to figure out how to make ends meet because their jobs have been, at least temporarily, eliminated.
I’ll admit it. My kids had a lot of screen time.
The iPad, which is a family favorite for kids watching kid’s shows, didn’t come out until they were 11, so they didn’t have a giant device in their hands to watch tv shows on from infancy. They definitely watched their fair amount of kid’s shows, it was just on our shared television.
For their 6th birthday, they got GameBoys.
Our boys are twins and have always been fairly competitive with school stuff, and their ability level is really similar to each other. We had told them, sometime around the beginning of Kindergarten, that if you learn to read, we’ll get you GameBoys for Christmas.
Nothing more motivating than that for these future video game lovers, and they were all in.
From then on, there was a theme in our house.
Press ‘Pause’. I need you to come in here.
‘Pause your game! It’s time for dinner’.
‘I need you to come up here and help me fold laundry. Yes now, Pause your game!‘
You get the idea. We shared turns on the GameBoys, beating Donkey Kong Jr, and Super Mario, then transitioned to the Wii, where we played an assortment of games. They moved on to PlayStation, where they play games with their friends, chatting on headsets as they play.
My friend and I were texting the other day.
She is also a therapist, and was commenting about something that is happening during ‘this pause‘. It really struck me that this term of pressing Pause really does apply to what we’re experiencing right now.
We have pressed pause on our everyday life. We have eliminated what has become known as ‘non-essential workers’ from those who leave their homes to go to work. Traffic patterns now include essential roles which has become a very interesting assortment of positions necessary for us to have food, medicine, and medical care.
If you think about a 3rd person view of the world, and you are looking down on the Earth as we might see it now compared to how it was 3 months ago, many people would be omitted from the daily commute to work, school buses would be parked in bus garages, and kids would be seen playing, studying, or learning, all while staying home.
Doctors, nurses, grocery store and pharmacy workers, lab techs and so many others, would proceed with their schedule, with some medical workers being encouraged to take on different roles within the medical community. Many other people would be seen working from home, and still a third group of people are unable to do their work from home, and are currently without employment.
Our traffic patterns, our daily interactions, and most of our sense of normalcy has changed.
I recently watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning that was focusing on Telehealth, or TeleTherapy. This occurs when mental health therapy is provided virtually, either through a screen time app, or through texting or phone calls.
While some people participated in Telehealth previously, the percentage of people who do so has skyrocketed in the last month.
The segment I was watching included a reporter who seemed incredulous that therapy could be provided in a FaceTime like environment. My guess, from her tone of voice and questions, is that she has not participated in it and may not be able to imagine that it is therapy and helpful.
As someone who has been providing some Telehealth for nearly a year, I can attest to the usefulness of it. TalkSpace, which I participated in as a therapist, is therapy primarily through messaging, which can be text, voice message, or video messages. It can also be a face-to-face video call, much like traditional TeleTherapy through the Electronic Health Records for behavioral health.
The day after I originally wrote this, I saw a segment with Michael Phelps promoting getting mental health needs met, with a part of the segment on TalkSpace, which he has utilized and found helpful. Good Morning America was discussing the importance of athletes getting their mental health needs met, since their roles are some of those which cannot be done in the traditional way during this pause.
My purpose of writing this article is to think about how these pattern changes, these disruptions in our daily routines, these mandated changes that some have been quick to adopt and some have been slower to get started on, have changed our current experiences.
Since I tend to focus on the positive, let’s think about some things that can come from this ‘Pause‘ that can be useful, or beneficial in some ways.
Kids who run from activity to activity suddenly have time to spend at home. They could be spending time playing, having downtime, or just having more time with their siblings and parents. As someone who parented children prior to the onslaught of screens, I think some of this scheduled time has been a response to having so much access to screens and devices in kids’ hands.
With the Pause and being forced to spend so much time with each other, whether we want to or not, kids are experiencing some of that boredom that I can remember from my own childhood. An example of this is a game we called ‘Statue’. In this game, we would spin around in my Grandma’s yard, stop when someone yelled ‘stop!’, and then whatever position you stopped in became your ‘statue’. You came up with what the statue meant, and at times we could activate the statue to give more information. The rest of the group (my siblings and cousins) had to guess what kind of statue you were.
For kids who have been choosing between video games, school, texting each other, after school sports, and lessons, this boredom that makes creativity flourish can really be something that some of them will experience differently during this Pause.
After I told my therapist friend she had inspired this article by using the term ‘Pause‘, she sent me a quote.
GO SLOW TO GO FAR
Independent Play helps a child develop emotional regulation, bodily awareness, executive function, time management and lifelong organisational skills.
They need to experience occasional inner worlds of boredom. Such times are where creative motivation is born, activating the brain’s default mode network for integrative thinking. This lets highler level cognitions occur.
Listen to your heart and relax into your family. Choose gentle memories for your cocoon home.Neurochild
This quote really exemplifies one of the things that I can see as a positive coming from our Pause. Having this pause, or time away from routines and going-going-going, can give some opportunities for some of the creativity mentioned in the quote.
Another perk I can see is the continued de-stigmatization of people utilizing Mental Health services. I have been watching with great interest, in the last few years, as the media talks and encourages people to get their mental health needs met and are beginning to recognize mental health needs as health, which I’ve talked about in previous articles.
Mental health, and the treatment to help us to get as mentally healthy as we can, is becoming less stigmatized, and has been shown on television shows a lot during this Pause.
I hear almost daily, as my television is background noise and set to current news shows both local and national, segments that talk about encouraging people to get their mental health needs met.
Recognizing that staying home, away from friends and loved ones, is tough on mental health.
Recognizing that a sudden change in income, or a sick family member, or the fear of a sick family member, has a strong effect on those who specifically experience these strong feelings, and anyone who lives around them.
People are hearing about others who seek mental health services, and the path to do it is a little different right now than it has been. Insurance companies are making it easier for people to access Telehealth, including some companies waiving the copays that generally go along with that.
The way to find the path to accessing mental health is being clearly explained during television shows that generally spend quite a bit of their time covering sports and other news that just aren’t current in this situation we are all in. Sports events don’t happen in the Pause.
Wow. that’s like a dream come true for me 🙂
This time of Pause is a time that can promote connections.
It is a time that neighbors are getting to know each other a little bit more. Seeing each other on daily walking routes, staying 6 feet apart but waving, with a friendly nod.
People are walking their dogs like I’ve never seen before (at least since we moved to Texas). I have seen more people walking their dogs in the last few weeks than I have seen in the previous 9 months we’ve lived here.
Families are taking walks with their children, couples are walking together, and people are getting creative about what they put in their windows.
I have seen some scavenger hunts about looking for bears in windows, super interesting chalk designs on sidewalks, and other learning and interacting opportunities for parents and children.
This time of financial stress will be really difficult for people, especially for those in the restaurant, retail and entertainment industries, to recover from. The number of people applying for unemployment is reaching records we never wanted to achieve, and some people are struggling even to be able to apply for unemployment due to the amount of online traffic on the sites.
This article hasn’t even really addressed those who are being personally affected by the Coronavirus itself, spending time in hospitals without loved ones, and struggling to recover.
I encourage you to think of some things you can gain during this time.
I know one thing I have gained is having my 22 year old children here in my house at a time they planned to be finishing their senior years of college. We moved here at a time where we know their ability to spend 3 weeks in a row with us is something that is precious and unexpected. They arrived on a Saturday night, and I have really enjoyed them being here.
We are 2 weeks in so far, and are not sure how long it will last. I enjoy having them around, so this time with them is precious to me.
As you have pressed ‘Pause’ in your family, or your friendships, and your work-life balance has changed, what are some gains you have experienced?
What are some things you can work on during this time of fewer distractions in some ways, and more in others?
What can you take time to do, and how are you taking care of yourself, if your situation is working full time with kids at home who are e-learning?
How are you getting that me-time, if your time at home is spent with toddlers who would love to have every second of your attention as you balance working and parenting.
All of us experiencing this will look back on this time as different, without question.
What are some things you can do with your kids to enjoy time with them, and what are some other ways you can get some time away from each other, while staying in the same physical space?
At some point, we will ‘unpause’.
It will be really interesting to see what changes stick, and what habits go right back into place.
Enjoy your day!