You can bet that your children know something unusual is happening, even very young children. They can sense the stress, they observe the changing routines and they can feel that you are distracted. They might try to ‘call you back’ with seeming ‘bad behavior’; just know that they are crying out for reassurance that you love them and that they are safe. That’s their job – to signal their concern any way that their subconscious knows how. If you can change your perspective when you see different behavior, and not treat it as a discipline problem, but as their red flag going up signaling their increasing distress. Your job is to let them know you are fully present for them, no matter what. How can we do that?
First: You can set the tone in your family by modeling calm reassurance that we will get through this together; that we will take the necessary precautions and we will take advantage of the unique opportunity for family bonding and fun! Making face masks together might be a fun project for the older children, while the younger ones could help by choosing the fabric for their own masks. Involving them in the process will likely increase their compliance in wearing the masks while you’re away from home.
Second: Tend to your own self care. Your old self care routines will likely change dramatically in this coronavirus. Your job is to redefine what those are by experimenting and exploring options. Before coronavirus, you likely had more alone time; now, you are surrounded in close quarters by family members 24/7 with few safe opportunities to leave the house… so you’ll have to get creative. Find a time during the day when you can be alone. Resist the urge to clean or reorganize the closet when baby naps. There will be plenty of time for that. Instead, take your book to the patio and read. Put on your headphones and do some stretching or yoga. Pull out your acrylic paints and allow yourself some true down time. Don’t stop exploring ideas until you find something that recharges you. We’ll be at this for several more weeks so you’ll have lots of opportunities. Do something every single day for yourself – even if it’s a 10 minute walk to the mailbox – alone.
Third: Talk to your children about coronavirus. If you have older children, have a family meeting. Give it a name. At our house we call it a ‘Foundation Meeting’. It’s a long story; but when we use that term it means that we will be together and we will be fully present to each other. It means that we’ll be having some fun, and that we will feel connected and appreciated.
Tell them that you are learning about this right along with them.
Here’s a great article by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, entitled: How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus Pandemic. (Click the title to be redirected.)
Thinking about a pandemic and all the repercussions Coronavirus will bring into our current world is certainly overwhelming. So break it down. Tackle it in chunks. Have some fun! Step away from it when you need to. Give yourself grace. Take it slow. You’re doing a great job!
Blog Post submitted by WarmLine Member Patty Reis