How to be there for your kids during this pandemic.
- Be gentle. They are feeling this too. It’s not just a long spring break – it’s a complete break from their normal. Their moods will be like yours. Sometimes they might cry, sometimes they might forget, but underneath it all, they, too, know that this isn’t normal. So have patience with them.
- Create a routine. Get up at normal times. Have everyone get dressed. Go for walks. Have some stuff planned for them to do. The more of a routine in the abnormal you can create, the better.
- Minimize talking about your deep fears around them. Let them know what they need to know. Keep them informed, but try your best to not make the whole day about the virus.
- Help them celebrate the simple things. This is a beautiful time to teach them and demonstrate gratitude. In our house we have a contest to see when the tomato plant reaches the top of the deck railing. We’re taking pictures of another’s hair growth (he had it buzzed down the day he arrived). We are spending more time seeing, versus expecting.
- Let them feel. Just like gentleness is a powerful gift, letting them feel their emotions is okay. I tell the kids, “it’s okay to feel – that makes you human.” So let them feel. I’m sure their feelings are all over the place as well.
- Talk about after. We talk about where we want to go, what we want to do, who we want to see. Talking about the after allows us to look up from the current perspective. Talking about after gives hope.
- Have them write, draw, document, create. This is the time when history is being made. The writings and collection of words penned now will indeed go down for future generations to read. Encourage expression.
- Find projects. All the projects that we’ve put off for years are now the projects the kids are helping with. We’re cooking and we’re ripping out bushes and planting gardens. But also, don’t feel like you have to be doing much all the time. This is a time of grief and letting go too. So maybe some days you just watch movies. That is okay.
- Help them connect with their friends. Schedule a zoom call. Write letters. Facetime with relatives. We can forge connections beyond the physical. And, in fact, these connections can create healing, safety and joy. Try to provide these opportunities.
- Take care of your heart. This is hard, plain and simple. You can’t keep giving if you’re running on empty. For years and years and years I’ve written about the need to take care of your heart too and that doesn’t stop now. Go for walks. Meditate. Run. Plant a garden. Play piano. Sing. Cook. Do stuff for yourself. And if you need time alone, try to cultivate that space. You will give more when your heart is full too.
Thinking of all of you.