By now we have been managing this pandemic for several weeks. We are each handling it in our own way and every family has different needs. We have heard from some of our Leaps and Bounds families that some of our kids are actually blossoming as the demands of school have changed. Our kids that have difficulty processing auditory and visual stimuli might be experiencing a period of calm that they don’t usually have. We find ourselves without the pressures of busy schedules and a more lax timeline to get homework and e-learning completed.
While we are excited to see some of these positive changes, we are also hearing about the ongoing stresses and struggles that are occuring. The lack of regular socialization has an impact on both kids and adults. Some of our families have 1 or 2 parents that are still working outside of the home. Many parents are working from home and attempting to manage helping their kids with e-learning while on conference calls or zoom meetings. Businesses are dealing with struggles that they never dreamed of having to manage. Our kids are experiencing these stressors through us.
As a business we are hoping to support each of our families in whatever place they are and recognize that may differ depending on the day. There are some things that we can all be doing to help our kids and ourselves through this time.
Stay social. Adults, seek and accept those Zoom invites. Allow yourself to laugh, share and vent with your friends and family about your struggles. There is something cathartic about sharing your “red zone” moments with your friends. It is also important for your kids to connect in some way with their friends, classmates and family. It may end up being 30 minutes of giggling and nonsense, but it is important. Make sure to connect with extended family in any way you can. You can show your kids that grandma and grandpa are doing well and thinking about them. Encourage your kids to draw and mail notes/ cards to friends. They will be equally excited to get something in the mail.
Stay active and take care of yourself. Exercise releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that help us cope, increases brain activity and immunity. Make sure you are taking time during the day to engage in movement. There are a lot of options of online workouts to choose from. Our good friends at Emerge Fitness Training are doing awesome Facebook live workouts for adults and kids. They also have virtual personal training sessions that can help keep you on track during this time. I have watched many families taking walks together and for us, this has been a great opportunity to connect with each other.
Get your chef hat on. So many of us have longed for the day when we can have family meals on a regular basis. Get into the kitchen with your kids and get them involved in cooking meals. Give them the permission to make meals or snacks on their own. You can help them gain independence with these skills now that we have more time to practice. Encourage their creativity in cooking. Having family cooking competitions where they get to experiment and try out their own recipes will help them build confidence with cooking skills.
Organize your day--(even if it is a loose schedule). Visual schedules and checklists can help you and your kids throughout the day. If you and your kids set realistic goals and expectations of the day, it will help everyone feel more successful. It may be sitting with your kids and planning out specific schoolwork to get done each day of the week so that you can coordinate tasks that your kids will need more help with on days that you have less conference calls. When you break the expectations down into manageable tasks each day, it can help your child feel less overwhelmed. If your child is assigned a non-preferred task, such as working on their letters, you could set aside just a few minutes each day as “fine motor” time. You could give your child the choice with how to do their letters--in shaving cream, sidewalk chalk, licorice, chocolate syrup, etc. This gives your child some power in letting them choose, which could increase their participation. If possible, set aside specific work times. While working from home, it can be hard to turn your work mode off, but giving yourself some down time will help you better cope with daily stressors.
Get rid of guilt. Whether you are feeling guilt for working, staying home, not being able to do fun activities with your kids, that you are not doing an adequate job with their education or feeling like you are not contributing in some way. STOP!! Easier said than done, right? Everyone I talk to is experiencing some kind of guilt. You are doing an amazing job in an unprecedented time. We were not prepared for this, but we are doing it!! Although, there are so many sad things happening, there are also a lot of amazing things going on. You are part of that and your families are part of that. What you are doing matters!!
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” - Sun Tsu
There is opportunity to reflect on our lives and what truly matters. We can use this time to connect with each other in a deeper, more meaningful way. We have the opportunity to learn and grow throughout this process. At Leaps and Bounds, we are hoping to come back as better therapists, parents, friends and colleagues because we took advantage of this opportunity.