By TMoM Team Member, Anna Keller
This is such a strange season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and if you’re a parent it can often feel especially trying. You and your kids are together ALL THE TIME, and it’s just…a lot. There are high highs and low lows and lots in between, and there also might be an underlying sense that you’re doing something wrong or missing out on what could be a great opportunity to [insert goal here].
On that front, I appreciated this New York Times piece on why now is NOT the time to beat yourself up for not being “productive.” We’re all in survival mode right now, after all (even when things are going well and we’re in a good rhythm).
And so let’s talk about a few things you can try to do each day to keep everyone in your family feeling their best during the weirdest April ever (and likely beyond). Don’t worry – this isn’t yet another thing to make you feel like a slacker. This is designed to be a very DOABLE list of things to focus on throughout the day and work into your “new normal” routine:
- Stay hydrated. In addition to the coffee that might fuel you during the day (and that glass of wine after the kids are in bed), this is so important to focus on. Make sure everyone in your family is drinking enough water every day to help them feel their best. (For adults, a good rule of thumb to help you know if you’re drinking enough water is to consume half your body weight in ounces. For kids, aim for a cup of water for each year old they are, meaning a 4-year-old should drink at least four cups of water per day.)
- Move your body. This is important for everyone in the family (always, but especially right now!). Some ideas on how you can accomplish this include: doing yoga together (Cosmic Kids yoga on YouTube is a great resource), taking family walks, singing interactive songs like “Shake Your Sillies Out” with littles, carving out time for Mom or Dad to do the workout of their choice alone, having dance parties in the kitchen while dinner’s cooking, playing games like hopscotch, tag, or four square outside, etc. On days when you or the kids are feeling especially off or grumpy, it might just be because you all have some pent-up energy that needs to get out!
- Eat a variety of foods (including lots of fresh things). This can be more challenging right now since grocery trips are few and far between for most of us, but try to incorporate as much produce into your diet as possible. If your kids want to snack as frequently as my toddler does right now (ALWAYS HUNGRY), consider putting out a bowl of parent-approved snacks so they can grab things on their own. Apples, bananas, and clementines are all great things to include in that bowl!
- Connect with someone outside of your home. Who can you FaceTime today or set up a Zoom call with? Maybe it’s a grandparent or one of your child’s friends or a favorite coworker you don’t get to catch up with in person anymore. Remember that this is physical distancing, not social distancing, so we need to work hard to stay as connected as we can right now.
- Take deep breaths. As a family, set aside just a minute a day to breathe together, really focusing on filling your lungs, then slowly emptying them. This will help your body and mind calm down, and can also help emotions come down a bit if anyone’s upset.
- Express gratitude. Since every night is family dinner night these days, consider starting the meal by having everyone share one thing they’re thankful for that day. Keeping our focus on the many things we have to be grateful for while the world seems so turned on its head can be incredibly good for our mental health and family connection.
- Carve out “me time.” I know, I know. WHEN, right? These days, we have to get a little creative with how this might happen. If you can’t make actual physical alone time happen easily, think of things you can do while your family is around you that can bring you a bit of peace, stillness, and time to be alone with your thoughts. (Example: While your kids are watching a movie, pour yourself a mug of tea and take a few minutes to be present as you sip it. Notice how it tastes, notice and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, notice how your body feels – essentially turn it into a mini-meditation session.) Try to give your children opportunities to be alone and/or quiet and still each day as well. We all need that time!
So, what do you think? Sound doable? Remember that one interesting and helpful thing about this situation is that everyone is going through this together. Unlike most times where your family is going through a major change or a difficult life event but the world keeps moving around you, right now we are all navigating the same challenges.
You aren’t alone.
You aren’t doing this wrong.
You can get through this.
You’re doing great.
We all are.
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