I have been watching the news this week, and wincing at what is being demanded of parents with kids at home right now. Largely because, when my oldest daughter was 10 days old, the September 11th terrorist attacks occurred, and I was laid off from my full time job. There were no self-quarantines back then, but we were so financially unprepared that we had to put ourselves on “fun restriction”. And then, I started graduate school from home while taking care of a toddler at the same time. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been through something similar that I have a lot of compassion and a lot of concern about what parents are in for over the next few weeks.
As our connection with our clients becomes even more virtual with online counseling and online therapy, I want to share with you some survival strategies that I think could really help get you through:
1. Rhythms and Routines
Rhythms and routines are soothing to all of us. They can be soothing to you, and can most definitely be soothing to your children. Chances are, your family’s schedule has changed overnight from what it looked like two weeks ago. I would encourage you to develop a new home-from-school schedule, and be consistent with it from one day to the next. Routines soothe our nervous systems, and they give us a little predictability back in our lives.
2. High Quality Connection
The second thing that always worked for me when I was at home with my little ones is giving them high quality connection and engagement first thing in the morning. For example, I would take them to the park to play, or getting down on the floor to play a game with them. That seemed to really fill up that cup of connection needs, and it made it easier for me to park them near me while I did something else.
3. Scheduled Screen Time After School Time
I would schedule screen time after school time whenever possible. As we’ve all experienced firsthand, kids are often grumpy little monsters when you ask them to get off screen time. That’s because screen time changes their brainwaves to a more sedate state. So the day will probably flow better if you ask them to do some school work first, and then pull out the screens later. By the way, your family therapist just called, and she said no parent in America is allowed to give themselves a guilt trip on relying heavily on screen time in the coming month. Let’s just give ourselves some grace on that one.
4. Get Outdoors and Exercise
Get outdoors, and advocate for your need to exercise on a regular basis. I did a crappy job at this one when my kids were tiny, and my family was young. I think if I had done a better job at going to my husband, and letting him know when my stress level was reaching the boiling point, I probably would have been a lot nicer to him.
Please go ahead and stay tuned to our Facebook page. Share this on your social media if this has been helpful. You don’t have to be a client at Flourish to know that I don’t want you to feel like you are in this alone. We are going to be here for you every week, and to all of our clients out there, your access to your therapist is an essential service which helps you keep your stress level at a more manageable range. It also helps you insulate the relationships that matter most to you during these highly unpredictable and anxiety provoking times. My team and I are not going anywhere. We are going to be here to get you through this, and effective this week, all of our services are now offered online. We’re going to get through this together with online counseling and online therapy.