This post is to help parents dealing with at-home children who may be frightened, missing their friends, bored, or overwhelmed by quarantine. As a child therapist, I have been seeing children who are riding the waves of many different emotions; there are many unanswered questions and confusion. While there is a lot about the virus we cannot control, there are many things we can do. With intention and caring we can cultivate seeds of mindfulness to weather any storm, or in this case, the virus!
Here are some guidelines to help parents to cope during these unusual times:
1. Simplify. Allow yourself to let go of “should and ought to” around what needs to get done. This is a time to be more relaxed. Prioritize your needs and your child’s accordingly. Follow your own intuition around school schedules: if what is being asked feels too much, adjust it to flow with your family’s capabilities. Remember, you and your children are not defined by performance, and you do know best! Think in terms of finding ease and balance for everyone.
2. Practice compassion for both yourself and others. Everyone is in a state of massive transition and it’ll take time to adjust and reestablish a new “normal”. Instead of judging yourself, honor and accept your humanness. The truth of change is that it is a part of our shared human experience and we are in a time of tremendous change. It will take time for most of us to find our flow in the midst of this. Acknowledge your reality, rather than denying it. Compassion allows us to embrace and relate to ourselves and others with kindness. Some mantras to use: “May I be well, may I be happy, may all things go well for me” beginning with yourself and expanding this feeling of love to all others.
3. Authenticity! All different emotions will present themselves: grief, disappointment and frustration may arise, as cancelations become part of our reality, especially for children. Be present with the spectrum of feelings as they come. Get a feeling chart for the house as a way to expand social-emotional learning. Take turns naming emotions and model self care through breath and movement. Teach your children that feelings are like waves in the ocean that come and go. Some feelings cause small ripples, while others can feel like tsunamis. Normalize their feelings so they can have an integrated experience of life during this time.
4. Find joy and play! Use this time as an opportunity to find connection with yourself and your family. Bring play into everyday activities, such as cooking or cleaning. Listen to music together, pick a book and take turns reading parts of a story, or better yet, make your own quarantine story! Make sure that everyone is moving their bodies, even in small ways, to help soothe the nervous system. Get out twister, practice gentle yoga together, or make up games such leapfrog.
5. Remember to breathe. The breath is our doorway to liberation. It is with us our whole life and often doesn’t get enough attention, especially during times of crisis. Find your breath, then teach your children ways to find theirs and how to pay attention to it. Breathing balls, also known as Hoberman Spheres, can be a wonderful tool that captivates kids and helps them find their breath. Dedicate at least five minutes a day to slowing down and breathing together as a family.
Remember. this too shall pass.