In just a few months, we’ll be a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and all the things that came with it, like grocery stockpiling, increasing our vitamin intake to boost our immunity, and deciding on which mask best matches our outfit. And let’s not forget how we have learned to become SUPER multitaskers. We’ve been able to transform ourselves into full-time work-from-home adults and our children’s teachers . . . all at the same time.
As parents, we’ve researched and learned how to find balance in our lives to maintain our own sanity, but have we taken the time to consider our children’s mental health, too? Over the last ten months, I’ve read and watched many social media posts, news articles, and YouTube videos on how to incorporate self-care into MY monthly, weekly, and even daily routine. But then it hit me. There are other people in my household who have also lived through this pandemic, suffered the loss of connecting with their friends, and have had to learn how to live differently until the masses have been vaccinated.
How are you helping to maintain your children’s mental health during the pandemic?
Remember, Parents: for those children who go to school in person every day, your kids are required to remain at their desks, which are six feet apart. Even when they have a few minutes outside to play, they are socially distant, which we know is best for their health and safety, FOR THE ENTIRE SCHOOL DAY! They may be around friends, but the joys of going to school have vanished. No class parties, no field trips, and no team sports. How would that make you feel?
Here are a few ways that I’ve assisted my children with promoting positive self-care.
Feel the breeze and soak up the sun!
Both my children enjoy team activities and the freedom of being with friends while they play. My son plays basketball, flag football, soccer, and baseball, while my daughter enjoys dance and gymnastics classes. With many of those activities canceled and my family deciding that indoor and team sports are not the best choice right now for us, we’ve lost a lot of time outside absorbing the oxygen from trees and the vitamin D from the sun.
GET OUTSIDE! Everyone who knows me, knows that we love Railroad Park. We have a group of about 7-8 friends that we meet at Railroad often. We use this time for our children to ride bikes, scooters, skates, hoverboards, and socialize socially distant with masks on. My children especially look forward to this, as it gives them a break from being in the house and the ability to see friends. It’s freeing for them to run around for several hours, and it gives the parents a chance to catch up. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially when the ice cream truck rolls around.
We even found a solo sport, golf, that both my kids really enjoy. We get private lessons from Leonard Smoot at Smoot Golf Academy.
Allow your children to lead on which outdoor activity they would like to do.
Don’t forget down time. It really is okay.
Allow your child to have a little downtime when it comes to this new routine. Remember they are adjusting to a new school environment, whether it’s virtual or in-person learning. Pay attention to their attitude and if you see that they may be struggling to keep up or lack the desire to finish an assignment right in that moment, allow them a few minutes or even an hour to gather themselves. You know your child best, so give them grace and allow them to return to a calm state and try the task again later. Grace is one of the most important attributes you can have as a parent right now.
Talk through those emotions.
During that down time, spend that time together playing a game . . . dominoes has become one of our favorites . . . or just lying across the bed together. Use this time to connect with your little one about their emotions. Allow them to express what’s frustrating them or causing them to get upset, and then ask them what would make them feel better. I like to talk through and about my feelings and have found that allowing my children to do the same helps them to get over whatever funk they may be in during that moment. If your child doesn’t like to talk about their feelings, don’t push it. Just play the game or lie across the bed with them until they are ready. I often will spray lavender oil, use my diffuser, or play some of our favorite songs to fill our space with calmness and happiness. Remember, music calms the savage beast!
With that — Cheers, Parents, for making it this far through the pandemic! As we continue this journey, don’t forget to reward yourself for your hard work. You’ve done an amazing job!