parenting

Parenting during Coronavirus

Parenting during coronavirus (stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, quarantine, lockdown…whatever you are calling it) is going to be challenging if it hasn’t been already.

These times will absolutely accentuate the positive and the negative of your existing family system and structure, no matter what age are your children.

Some of you are home with wee ones. Some have school-agers. Maybe you have a wrangle of multiple ages with bigger children capable of giving a hand. Still others of you are home with moody teens or young adults wrestling their own disappointments: social opportunities shut down, dating relationships challenged, questions about their future looming.

No matter what, it’s a challenge.

On top of it, you know parenting is one of the BIG THREE that affects marriages, right? Mishandling differences in parenting style, money management, and the sexual relationship can ring the death knoll for any marriage. Notice I said mishandling differences. Having differences is not the problem. Many of us need help figuring out how to handle the differences.

No matter what your parenting styles, even when they differ greatly, here are guiding principles you can each use and adapt for good (not perfect) parenting right now.

Parenting during Quarantine

It’s Parenting 101 all over again.

Some of you have heard me use the model that good parenting consists of nurture, guidance, and limits… in physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and sexual realms. All that nurture, guidance, and limiting is age-appropriate, of course. Not very many of us GOT that growing up but we CAN intentionally offer it to our children…at any and every age.

How are you doing with that matrix?

And if it’s just complete pandamonium and you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, Beth. Nurture, guidance, and limits!? I’m just trying to survive over here” skip down to the numbered points below. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those should help.

No worries. You’re human. And you already have a family system in place and working or not working so well, in which case, use this time to revisit your family norms, structure, operation, and health level.

I’m not saying start from scratch and drum up All the Good Stuff right this minute under pressure. I’m saying you can use the matrix to continue to shore up your parenting even now. Use it to spend some brain space envisioning what you can do to be a better parent.

And pay attention to and emphasize all the great things that actually work. Then remind children of their positive family identity. “We prize family and togetherness. We’ll get through this together. ” Or maybe you can say “We always get through hard things. This is no different.” It is true that “this will definitely be a time to remember.” You ARE creating family memories…even now.

Above all, and in all, be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Just as much as you are able. And get some help if you’re having a hard time with that.

Parenting in Quarantine can be pure chaos

…if you let it. You are in charge of the kids, not the other way around. Even though you’re exhausted, stressed, and sleep deprived while relationships may be strained, you really are in charge. I know your brain might be in fight, flight, or freeze mode and if you identify with that, let me know. I’ve got specific tools to help get you to a more regulated state. And don’t worry, I’ve been helping people with that and more…not just the last three weeks, but for years.

Here are parenting principles to help:

1. Know that your kids are individuals who will have varied and unique responses to stress. Respect that. Honor it. In fact, acknowledge it out loud in a sentence or two even if your audience is likely to respond with an eye roll. Even teens need to feel seen and respected by their parents.

2. Everyone wants to hear things are going to be okay. (They ARE going to be okay. If you don’t know that, let’s chat.) There’s no need to overemphasize this or to fake it. Be genuine. Your kids always want to know that you have got this. You are the adult in their world. They do take their cues from you. It’s okay not to know everything and have all the answers. You can admit you feel scared sometimes too. But it’s not okay to make your kids take care of you right now.

3. Don’t neglect yourself. If you’re freaked out about something, tend to your own freak out. Call your therapist. Lots of us are doing video telehealth now and it is super helpful and safe. There are concrete skills a good therapist knows and can teach you to help address your issues and get you solidly feeling so much better. Then you’ll be ready to jump back in and be a great parent. (Of course, call me. I’m here for you.)

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Plus these important parenting tips:

4. Do provide structure. The creation of predictability and certainty in uncertain times is soothing to EVERYONE, including you, whether you realize this or not. Create structure. Order play times, designate time for work (homework, chores,) time for taking care of business, (when Mommy or Daddy need to be alone for a limited amount of time) and times AWAY from the parenting task…even if it is just for a long, luxurious shower. Or, if they are the correct ages, do get some away time when they are in bed for the night.

5. Rest. Literally, like all of us were told when our babies were born, rest when they rest. Do that now if you can. Don’t expect yourself to go, go, go…even though most of us are doing this within our own homes now. These ARE stressful times. Give yourself and your kids a break. (And remember, a break implies that they were previously on-task or hard at work. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I mean this figuratively as well. Leave room for human responses. Keep your discipline and consequences within reason. If you’re having trouble staying reasonable because you’re just overwhelmed, call a friend, take a break, and of course, get some professional help if you need it.

A few final tips for parenting now

6. Play. No matter what age your children -and I mean grown ones too- play together. On purpose or spontaneously, do something FUN. Board Games, competitive ones, made-up ones, goofy ones, whatever. But PLAY together. It’s a great way to experience JOY.

7. Be grateful out loud. Make lists of good things. Count blessings. Say a prayer before meals. Whatever fits you. But do it and let your kids see and hear you as well as contribute their own ideas. You might not force surly teens to add to the list, but let them hear you doing this.

8. Enjoy this time. It IS unprecedented and that means there will never be another time like it. It’s new and different, which means your brain is on high-alert recording memories and experiences. Make some good ones for your kids.

In addition, Psychology Today has published the first of a series dealing with parenting during crisis. Read it right here. You’ve got resources to make the most of your quarantine.

If you’re having a hard time with any of this, related to parenting or just related to you, reach out. I am here for you.

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Getting through the Holidays

Just “getting through the holidays” is a guiding mantra for some people. I’m here to help you do that, not try to convince you to do something more.

After all, there’s a reason you’ve taken that stance. So I won’t waste our time or energy arguing with you about it. If you ever want to talk, let me know, we can process together. And you can read about having good boundaries and stressing less if you missed those posts. They should help.

The following can help with getting through the holidays so read on.

In practical things,

Take care of yourself

Now is no time to neglect yourself. This is the time to step up your self-care efforts, not let them slide. That means, keep that appointment with your therapist, the doctor, the nail guy, your hairdresser… and do it for you, not because you HAVE TO in order to look good or prep for the party or keep from going crazy.

Do it for you. Because you know it’s good for you. And you’re worth it.

Schedule, yes, schedule time for exercise and activity.

This is the number one thing you can do to lift your mood. It’s an ongoing thing, but especially important when you’re feeling less than thrilled about life, or the holidays, or obligations etc.

It does not matter what you do. Just get moving. If you can do it outside, that’s even better. You need some vitamin D this time of year and you can’t get that sitting inside at your computer. But if you can’t get outside, just get moving. Even two 10 minute breaks for stretching and movement makes a huge difference.

Sleep

It’s the number one most rejuvenative action you can give your mind, body, and emotions. You need your sleep in order to process all the rest of what’s going on in your world. It’s good for all systems, physical, nervous, and emotional.

“To sleep, perchance to dream…”

Yep, that’s the aim! Dreams help sort things out in your subconscious. They shake things loose, makes sense of things and often happen nearest the end of your sleep session, most vividly during REM sleep. I know you might not remember them, but they’re still at work, shaking it all loose.

If you can remember them and you want help making sense of them, I love helping people with that. Give me a call.

Just do get your rest. Seven to nine hours is optimum for adults. More on sleep at the podcast here. Let me know if I can help you make adjustments there as well.

Plan distracting fun

Who says you have to just do the regular plotting of this holiday function, then that one, this obligation and the next. Plan something that matters to you and stick to the plan.

Maybe it’s going to hear a favorite local band and dancing. Maybe there’s an antiques show you’ve been meaning to hit. Could be you have a hankering for a good old-fashioned outta-the-way cafe pie. Go find it. And enjoy it.

No one says you have to do everything the same year after year from November to mid-January.

Respect your limits

Don’t ask yourself to DO TOO MUCH. Do you normally NOT DO social engagements every single weekend? Then make sure you don’t do them just because it’s the holidays.

Tired of eating the family meal on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, AND Boxing Day? Opt out of one of them. You can do it. No one will wilt.

And if you do enjoy those gatherings, well, enjoy them.

Respect other people’s limits too

Maybe put less pressure on all the people around you to have the exact relationship with the events. You are you. They are separate human beings with a will, intrinsic value, and worthy of respect. They’re not on the planet to give you what you need and want.

Let them do what they want to do as well. I mean this especially if they are adults. I’m not saying you should let your children run the show over the holidays and dictate where you go and what all you do.

But if they are also overwhelmed, it might be great to listen to what’s going on with them and make an adjustment. Do less, not more.

Find Meaning Elsewhere

Often people struggle with the holiday season because it brings up other painful memories. Coupled with the emphasis on family, couple-hood, peace, bliss, joy, and Norman Rockwell togetherness, it can be a time to starkly realize what’s missing versus what one does have. It can bring up lack instead of inspiring gratitude and joyous thanksgiving.

That’s okay.

Intentionally focus meaning elsewhere. Decide what might help. Are you working extra hard on that January project coming up at work? Is it the year to win the volleyball tournament? Want to focus on that novel you’ve been meaning to write or the art you want to get back to?

Do it. Make it your priority during this time and let all the hullaballoo over the holidays melt away.

Make the most of the time

After all, time is the one thing none of us will get back. So do make the most of each single day in its own right. Measure the success of your day one day at a time. Do your thing, feel your feels, engage your mind just for today. And make today the best single day it can be.

And do this ON the holiday(s) too, even if you end up spending them alone or almost alone, even if you spend them doing something you don’t like doing, even if you can think of a million places you’d rather be. Just one day at a time, show up for THAT day and see how well you can stay present during it.

Even distasteful things might not be as distasteful if you engage your five senses, pay attention, and stay present for them.

Especially regular holidays where you’re doing the same thing every year will explode into new experiences if you pay attention to them on the senses level. What do you smell, see, taste, hear, and feel?

You might surprise yourself.

Time does fly. Before you know it, you will have gotten through another round of holidays. Just maybe this year, you’ll realize you’ve done a bit of good living right through the middle of them.

Can I help in any way? Give me a call or send a message.

 

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