1) Consolidate your thoughts about the enormity of this transition by journaling or talking with your partner, therapist, or close adult friend(s).
2) Identify some of the most significant changes to share with your kids. Here’s what I came up with:
Mom now works from home.
Dad still goes to work, but it feels different.
Kids now do all of their playing and studying from home.
We are more aware and concerned about our physical sensations.
We keep a significant distance from everyone outside of our immediate family, including and especially grandma and grandpa.
We will all have new feelings and emotions, since our lifestyle has changed so much.
To a child, identifying these seemingly obvious changes will help them reorient their expectations and emotional landscape around this restrictive new normal. Share your list over the kids’ favorite snack and invite them to share, draw or write anything they want in response.
2) Talking about feelings is not easy for everyone. If you are comfortable with it, lead by example.
I said to my kids, “I was very depressed yesterday. I couldn’t figure out why. I was so moody…” (‘we noticed…’) “I figured it out this morning when I went to my office to get the basic necessities to continue my work remotely. I knew I always loved waking up early, getting ready for the day and commuting through the dark and quiet city. But I didn’t realize how much that part of my routine was helping me be a happy person!”
Both kids opened up about missing things they didn’t realize would be lost when they were ‘liberated’ from school. (They didn’t do this immediately. We cannot force meaningful responses so lead by example then let it go!)
3) On your own, take a look at this list of values. If possible, print cut and sort. With your family in mind, choose TEN of your top values. Make a list. Talk with your partner, friends, therapist, or journal about these values. If you can, narrow the list further to FIVE top values. Try!
Parents and caregivers: Consider using this list of five values as your home base. How can you honor these values in the midst of this restrictive new normal?
Under these new circumstances:
How you can you reflect these values in your personal self care?
How can you model these values in your marital (or similar) relationship?
How can you model these values in your relationship with your kids?
How can you reflect these values as you build your family’s daily structure?
You can refresh your list of 5 values anytime!
4) Identify your daily bases. Here are ours. The reason I made a list of bases to reference is to avoid slipping into an excessively screen-heavy lifestyle. We are at risk and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Draw/artistically mess around with this and that
Tibetan language learning
Music practice /musically messing around
Be read to
Watch TV privately
Watch a family show (Including all of Governor Cuomo's Televised Addresses)
Play a video game
Play a family game
Get outside and shake off the cobwebs 2x at least
5) In building a daily structure, identify what will work and not work. In our home, as long as we cover our bases more or less at some point throughout the day, the Goodman fam is good to go. In other homes, keeping to a strict schedule is the best option. What would be a sustainable rhythm for you and your child(ren)?
6) For any parents who suffer from depression or similar, and for those who are beginning to show signs of instability: Reach out to your partner, therapist, psychiatrist, general practitioner, closest adult friend, favorite colleague, most trusted neighbor.
Try to ensure a productive conversation by taking care in how you choose your words:
"I'm having trouble remembering my priorities and could use help finding clarity."
"My thoughts are in a knot and I could use help unwinding."
"I would like to improve my behavior toward my family. Can I talk this through with you?"
"I'm not feeling very well and would like help brushing up on my self care."
"I'm feeling very isolated and just need someone to talk to."