The coronavirus crisis has presented all of us with a stressful, unprecedented, challenging time. How can we be present and responsive parents and stay calm and centered when we are stretched to the limit?
Some of us are home working while also having to care for our children or supervise their learning. Some of us aren’t working, but have become full-time teachers for our kids.
We may feel scared and anxious. We may feel overwhelmed and exhausted. We’re lonely because we aren’t able to physically be with the people that are a source of comfort to us, like our own parents or friends.
Perhaps we feel out of our league when it comes to homeschooling. Our kids are upset because we don’t do things the way their teacher does, or because they can’t play or hang out with their friends.
Anxiety, fear, confusion, overwhelm…we’re all feeling it right now.
That’s why, for you and all parents, I have two words of advice during this pandemic crisis:
Let go of trying to be perfect or wanting your kids to be perfect.
Let go of creating long to-do lists for yourself or your kids. Let go of worrying about how much school work your kids are going to get done in a day or how much screen time is too much right now.
Let go of trying to do it all alone. This isn’t the time to set lofty goals and stress out when you don’t achieve them.
Here’s what I urge instead:
Take things one day at a time and focus on creating a climate in your home where everyone feels safe and loved.
Safe and loved.
If you can check those two boxes off, you’re doing a great job!
Your kids might skip a bath, they might not get all their schoolwork done, you may not be making the healthiest meals right now, your house may be messier than it’s ever been. That’s okay.
Give yourself a break. Give your kids a break!
Be compassionate with yourself and your kids. Be more flexible and less rigid.
I do acknowledge that you may be the kind of person who is comforted by structure or that your kids may prefer to know what’s going to happen in a day.
If that’s the case, you can always talk to your kids about what you’re going to all be doing that day, or what you expect from them. That can be reassuring for many children.
But if you find yourself running out of steam at the end of the day and you still have one more lesson to get through with them, there’s nothing wrong with just letting it go. Let them play or watch another hour of TV if that’s what it’s going to take to get through the day feeling safe and loved.
If every day can end with everyone feeling safe and loved, you’ve done your job as a parent.
There’s a quote that I love that says, “Lower your expectations, you’ll achieve more.”
This is not a time to raise the bar on what you can achieve as a parent, a partner and a human being, and what your kids are supposed to achieve while going through a challenging time.
If you want to make a BIG difference in their lives right now, there is something you CAN do besides letting go of high expectations. It will help them thrive in this moment, and set a president for the rest of their lives.
It’s not anything to put on your to-do list. It’s a mindset.
And that is:
Holding our place as the Captain of the Ship during this storm.
The Captain of the Ship isn’t the dictator who rules with a heavy hand. A captain doesn’t use coercion or threats to get children to cooperate. “Do it or else!”
The Captain of the Ship isn’t the lawyer, using bargaining or logic and reason to get children to comply. “If you do this, you can have ice cream or one more hour of TV.”
Getting your child’s attention and cooperation begins with how you’re exhibiting leadership. It means changing the mode in which you parent him or her.
Instead of reasoning, yelling or bribing, what helps is embodying a calmer, steadier alpha energy that communicates to your child that you are the adult and you know what’s best for him or her.
The seas are stormy right now, and more than ever our children need us to be that kind of leader.
It’s not always easy, though!
Not if you’re used to using yelling, logic, bribes, or bargaining to keep peace and structure in your household.
Those tactics won’t allow your child to feel safe and loved during this uncertain time of quarantines, lock-downs, and social distancing.
But you may not know how to be the Captain and leader your children can rely on and look up to. And that’s okay, it’s not something that most know how to do.
I’ve had so many requests from parents to help them figure out what to do to get through this time.
But I can’t possibly work with ALL parents one-on-one.
That’s why I’ve partnered with Flourish, so I can extend that help and guidance to as many parents as possible.
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I can’t wait to share all this with you.
We can be stronger as a result of all this, and we can become closer with our kids.
Please take care and stay well.