The world is an uncertain place right now. News channels are full of gloom and doom. At this time, it is more important than ever to help kids make sense of the world around them. They hear snippets of the news or adult conversation and connect the dots on what are scary topics. Internalizing negative thoughts may lead to undue panic in these growing minds.
How then can we step in to steer them towards a more productive thought process? My mantra has always been, ‘Be aware, not fearful’ which I learned from my parents and the way they handled every situation.
My family started self-quarantine on Friday, March 13 and at the time of writing this piece, are 5 weeks in. Week 1 was spring break so the kids had a 24/7 party in my living room with movies, shows, snacks, toys, what have you. Week 2 was when reality hit. Balancing work and homeschool felt next to impossible. I was done for the day by 3pm daily and quickly realized this was not sustainable.
Online schooling began in week 3 – a structured curriculum with deliverables felt easier to navigate. I liked the predictability and the fact that I could do the bare minimum on schooling and still feel like I was taking care of everything important. On the other hand, I felt bombarded by the zillion resources for kids activities that required them to be in front of screens. That was where I applied the brakes!
The idea that kids would use screens as babysitters and educational resources on top of activity time was much too much. I wanted to focus on spending time with them playing board games, taking walks, throwing around a frisbee, practicing archery, and playing tag. And staying positive and light.
Speaking of, what is resilience? It is your capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We are living in a changed world, where we are staying safe at home, playdates/parties happen over video chat and ‘going out’ is fast becoming a foreign concept. No early rising for school or work, no rushed days, no strict bedtimes. Schedules have loosened (not abandoned).
In the midst of all these changes, it is important for our kids to feel secure and know we will all be fine; we are fine. Guiding our kids through life’s challenges while expressing our love is what they need now, and it’s how we build resilience and strength in them that will last.
- Safe, not stuck: Talk to your kids about the world and happenings in an age-appropriate manner. Emphasize we are staying safe at home and keeping others safe by not leaving the house.
- Help, not hinder: Grow compassion in their minds. Explain how the elderly are at high-risk. Find ways to help out in your community whether it’s through making masks or thank you cards for frontline workers.
- Physical distancing is not family distancing: Teach them the importance of family time. Revisit old memories. Set up video calls with family in other cities or countries.
- Connect, not isolate: Help them stay connected with their friends through phone calls, chalk notes on driveways or even a distant hello from the car to the porch.
- Time is a gift: Remember, time is a resource. Utilize this gift well and spend much needed one-on-one time with your kids. If you have more than one child, take a walk with each child on different days and hear them talk their heart out – give them undivided attention and you will discover a whole new side to them.
Keep your optimism alive. Make plans for the future. Let the kids choose their next travel destination and ask them to research the culture, food, currency and specialties. Decades later, when your kids look back on this time – the pandemic 2020, they will remember the epic fun, the squeals of excitement, the peals of laughter, the never-ending game nights, the joys of staying home – not the misery of feeling stuck at home.