by Lisa Reichelt, M.Ed., Parent Coach
It’s October 17th in Minnesota and it’s snowing! Even in Minnesota, that is UNEXPECTED! I think the phrase unexpected time describes our lives during this time of Covid-19, distance or hybrid learning, working remotely and social distancing. When an unexpected event happens in our lives, we respond, we adjust and we move on. Living in this unexpected time, I began to reflect on how I have coped with all the changes. Have I made good choices for my mental health and the health of my family? How are you and your children doing during this unexpected time? The following provides you with 5 ways to reflect during this unexpected time. Examining your family life gives you perspective and the ability to mark your achievements and address your challenges. Reflecting on live empowers you to grow.
Let’s take an inventory of how you and your children are handling this unexpected time.
Have you adjusted your social life? Even with social distancing, adults and children need other people, besides family, to fulfill their relationship needs. Friendships distract us from the stress of daily life. Children and adults participate in play as a healthy way to divert attention away from our worries. Do you and your children have relationships that help you be distracted? Do you find time to relax and refresh with your peers?
We also need friends who will “go deep” with us. People who will have conversations that are meaningful and rich, conversations that challenge us to think about the bigger issues in life. Children especially need friends and family who can talk with them about their worries, fears, joy and accomplishments. Are you aware of what they are feeling and thinking? These kind of relationships are life giving and essential.
2. Making Comparisons
Do you find yourself comparing your situation with others? If you do, try to stop! Each of us has our own story. Your families’ choices during this time are just that, choices. You and your children need to walk the path that your life takes you and not second guess each decision. During this unexpected time our lives are scrutinized by too many other people. Try not to give in to the scrutiny and also, resist criticizing others for their choices. Embrace the good things in your life!
3. Focus on the Positive
Do you focus on the positive? Have you taken time to count your blessings? I’ve been talking with some moms lately and asked them what has been surprising about schooling during Covid-19. A common response was that they have appreciated the time the family has had together. They appreciated everyone being home more and being forced to spend family time playing board games, baking or binge watching tv. Positive things happen in our lives and we often forget to pause and appreciate them. Spend time thinking about what benefits your family has seen over the past 8 months. It might surprise you.
4. staying connected
Are you making connections with those you have been distanced from during this unexpected time? Everyone has felt a sense of loss lately. One way to combat that loss is to tap into memories. It is healthy to reminisce about life before Covid-19. Thinking and talking about the routines you used to have, the activities you used to be able to participate in and the friends you used to see helps you and your children to process the changes. Try making connections with people you can’t see by writing letters or arranging virtual visits.
If your children are missing an activity they are passionate about, recognize that feeling and help them cope. If they can’t rejoin the sport they love, perhaps they could direct their passion toward creative outlets that are sports related: write an article, make a video of outstanding plays, draw pictures of favorite athletes, read biographies, or start their own podcast. The important thing is to allow yourself and your children to remember and to talk about the things they miss.
5. Defining yourself
Does it feel like your life is defined by Covid-19? Don’t let this unexpected time define who you are as a parent. Give yourself room to make mistakes and regroup. Whatever your usual parenting style may be, during this time you may need to set aside some of those usual expectations. You and your children will be happier and get along better if you treat yourself with patience and kindness. There is an old saying, “Treat other people as you would like to be treated”. During this unexpected time, I say, “Treat yourself the way you would treat your very best friend”. Be kind and understanding to yourself and your loved ones. Think of the advice you would give to your good friend and then, listen to that advice yourself. In all probability, it will be helpful advice, loving and generous.
The first snowfall is always beautiful, but it is unexpected. The birds in the yard are scurrying for every bit of seed I have placed in the feeder. They are making adjustments and staying healthy. Let’s take a lesson from the birds and keep ourselves healthy. Perhaps we can even sing a beautiful song of happiness.
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