Parental Leadership in times of the CoVid-19 Pandemic
In times of Covid-19 and a stay-at-home order, we are possibly facing the challenge of our lifetime. While our individual circumstances may vastly differ, having our kids around all day long and making them feel safe in a time of great uncertainty is hard. Your kids will need stronger and more compassionate leadership from you than ever.
Make self-care a priority
I urge you to make self-care a priority as you need to be healthy in order to take care of your kids. Your physical and mental wellbeing is key to be able to lead others and to show resilience in stressful conditions. Find this online exercise class you always wanted to take. Plug in your headphones and listen to your favorite music. Use your meditation app. Go soak in the tub. As often as possible, take a deep breath and direct your attention to all the positive things/actions are happening around us right now.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed
If last week you had to take your kids out of school unexpectedly, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. As a homeschooling family we have our resources a bit more lined up, but don’t get me wrong, this is not what homeschooling usually looks like. We take classes and have lots of outings, so a stay-in-place order is a dramatic change in our life as well. So, give yourself some grace and work on finding a good rhythm to your new family normal. Do not try to recreate school at home, they are stressed and anxious and we, humans, cannot learn when feeling threatened (Watch Dan Siegel's "Flip the lid" video.)
Open up a dialogue about feelings. Share your feelings. How it is hard for you to not see your friends, to not be able to join activities etc. THEN LISTEN. Listen with an open ear and an open heart. Hold that space for them. And give them strategies to improve their resilience, like gratitude.
My kids are learning about the privileges they usually take for granted. Now they eat what I serve, because I told them I do not know when I can buy food again. We talk about how staying home is keeping others safe. How we have to put our interests behind the common welfare. They pulled out a “gratitude cube” (big life kids printable) and rolled them twice.
You are enough
Know, You are enough. Cook together, hug a lot, read a lot, play tag, be silly with them and maybe throw in a movie night. And remember, as a family you still can go out and ride your bike! Physical activity is a great way to stay healthy! For your kids, looking back, this could very well be the time they will remember and cherish most. The time spent in the family.
Leverage your network
I also see opportunity in this global experience. Our neighborhoods have come more closely together. I had shared that my “Buy Nothing” group on facebook has threads offering help of many kinds. Sharing resources, food and grocery drop off for the most vulnerable, and checking in on buddies. Reach out to your network and ask for help.
It comes to show that when we are faced with adversity, we humans become immensely creative and tend to help others. And that is inspiring.
Try on Creative Solutions
My husband has the privilege to be able to work from home. So during the week, he works in the "home office", while I take care of the kids. They are not used to having their dad home, so the first days they kept interrupting him whining and asking him to come play. Our solution: As often as he needed a break, he would set a timer for 10 min. and play TAG. This has worked wonders. 10 freakin' min.! The interruptions stopped.
So when you think about how to make this work for your family, sit together (maybe throw some cookies in the mix) and brainstorm ideas. Try them on for a bit and if they don't work as expected, invite some changes. 10 min of undivided attention can mean the world to a (little) person.
Another necessary solution was for me to work on weekends while Dad is in charge of the kids. I'll let you know how this goes...
Lastly, I wanted to share a lovely poem by Gurpreet Gill with you: What if…?
Get my "10 Easy, Screen-Free Hacks to Keep Kids Entertained While you Work (So You Can Love Your Job and Feel Good About Your Kids)".