*Identify some of the most significant changes to share with your kids about the enormity of this transition. For example:
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 of 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.
Identifying these seemingly obvious changes will help children reorient their expectations 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.
*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!”
(We cannot force meaningful responses so lead by example then let it go! If they follow your lead it is not likely to be immediate.)
*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. How can you honor these values in the midst of this restrictive new normal? How can you reflect these values as you build your family’s daily structure? You can refresh your list of 5 values anytime.
*For 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. Here are some suggestions:
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.