Week 5

Feeling Adrift in Uncertainty

You’re most likely past the one-month mark for being homebound. You’ve mastered challenges you couldn’t have imagined just a few weeks ago. You’re hearing about a “new normal,” but nobody really knows what that means. You just know that things won’t go back to the way they were. All this makes it really difficult to feel you’ve setting sail for a specific destination. While your best course of action is to continue to find new ways to navigate unexpected challenges, you probably feel a little adrift.

School don’t yet have ways of measuring student success during online learning, and the ways you used to measure your competence as parents has vanished as well. Navigating this temporary-but-new world and meeting your kids’ needs is so immediate that not much feels like success. 

adrift during covid

It might be helpful just to step back and take stock of where you are right now:

• You’ve adapted to new ways of performing ordinary tasks like grocery shopping.

• You’re helping your child learn remotely.

• Some of you are learning to work from home.

• You’re keeping up with friends and family in the best way you know how.

• Some of you are working on the front lines — thank you!

• Split households are learning to navigate custody.

Navigating the Grocery Store During Covid

It’s not easy to embrace so much change so quickly.

If you’re tired, distracted, and frustrated, you’re not alone. Schools use a variety of learning platforms. Many have had multiple changes mid-stream as confidentiality and usability issues arose. No one had any lead time for this type of learning. You were thrown into this new system feeling pressure that your child’s academic progress depends on your ability to figure it all out. Learning a new system, keeping your child motivated, and teaching things to your child is enough any parent feel inadequate! Remember, while there are thousands of books and programs on how to be a good parent, none of them have a chapter on a situation like this!  Remember that becoming an at-home teacher isn’t the measure of being a good parent. Trying is the very best you can do.

You may find it difficult to concentrate. You may find it difficult to get things done because we can’t see how that fits into our unpredictable future.

You may find that supplying basic needs take all of your attention. You may have been dependent on food distribution by schools and food pantries and are scrambling to find replacements. Local grocery stores may be closed so you have to travel farther to keep your pantry stocked.

Financial strain and other worries keep your focus at bay.

Time seems slippery or ill defined. Although you may have created a daily schedule based on your child’s and your own work-at-home demands, you may need to revisit your plan.

You don’t have time for self-care. You’re busy and may feel like your efforts don’t match your progress. It may be time to schedule a few self-care-for-adults breaks. Even just 5 minutes of your very own can be mentally and emotionally beneficial.

The tole of Covid on parents

Take a few moments to acknowledge that these challenges sap your energy.

When you remember the school / work schedule you used to follow, you’ll realize you had periods of time in our day that you focused solely on work and interacted with other adults. These interactions use an entirely different part of your brain than being home bound. Even for stay-at-home parents, you cleaned, organized and shopped while your kids were at school. Unless you’re a kid, you need breaks from “kid energy.”

Flexibility is the key to stability

Additional Challenges

Special Needs Children

Many of you have an even larger burden with this because you have a special needs child. For parents whose children’s special needs require constant supervision or behavior management, having your child go to school was the only time you really go to just be an adult with adult concerns and the availability of having your own uninterrupted thoughts. 

Single Parenthood

Single parents have additional challenges. Just being able to get groceries when there isn’t a parent to stay home with the kids becomes even more difficult. For some single parents, there are sometimes anxiety-producing issues because the other parent works in an essential job and you don’t have control over the standard of sanitizing that other parent maintains.

Frontline Workers

Some of you have the high risk job so you have special procedures for keeping the virus at bay by what you have to do just to come in the house after your shift. 

When you look at all of this, it becomes evident that being a guilt-free parent in these unusual times is more difficult than ever, and you can’t use the standards you had for yourself two months ago as a measure of your dedication or success as a parent. That you are working hard to navigate these turbulent waters takes so much effort, you need to be kind to yourself!

Activities for Parents

The following activities are designed for you as a parent to do individually. Take a deep breath or two before diving in to give yourself a moment to become fully present.

Activity #1: Ritual

We all have rituals of varying sorts. Some everyday kinds of rituals like the first-cup-of-coffee moments, when we savor a quiet house before the kids are up. Rituals may be for your physical well-being such as a daily yoga practice. Some are to meet a spiritual need that is fulfilled through daily meditation or prayer. 

Because your current reality is now different than it has been, it’s a significant time to look at rituals you might want to remove, change, or add to your day. 

This worksheet may help you decide an updated routine.

Activity #2: Adapting Schedules

Consider looking at the schedule you adopted early on when your kids’ first began online learning.  It’s likely that your focus was on how to accomplish what the teachers were requesting.  This is a worthy goal, but perhaps it is time now to look at what will also serve you as a parent. You probably need more moments in your day that are rejuvenating.

This worksheet may help you develop an updated daily schedule.

Activity #3: Making Time for You

Take a moment to look back at your list from Activity #2.  Make a note on the side of each one:  A is alone time for you, T is together time with your kids. Are there any changes you could make to afford yourself some healthy breaks?

Braver than you Believe

Activities for Families

The following activities can be done with your children. Plan to give your child your full attention during this time.

Activity #1: Learning Your Child's Perspective

Sit down with your kids and make a list of things that they are going well or at least OK from their perspective. Much of what they list may be about connecting with friends and have nothing to do with your parenting. But some of them may be about parenting or home life. 

You can let yourself feel good about both!  If your child feel good about how school is going or how he or she is connecting with friends in new ways, this still reflects on your ability to create an environment that fosters your child’s well-being. Sometimes, we’re harder on ourselves than we need to be.

Activity #2: Get Outside

Make a list of the places you can go outside. Is there a park where you can go while still maintaining physical distance from others? What about your yard, if you have one? Can you walk the streets in your neighborhood?

Beneath each of the places you list, generate at least three new ideas about what you could do with that space. Try to think of activities that are unusual for your family. 

  • Maybe you have an old croquet set in the attic.  If not, what game could you invent based on this game but uses what you have on hand? Wire hangers would be a start for the wickets. 
  • Got a park nearby but no kite?  What do you have on hand for a homemade version? Have a contest to see whose kite flies longest or highest.
Activity #3: Play Games

What are the board games you haven’t played in awhile? Don’t have Mancala?  Look it up online and make your own “board.” You don’t need the dips in the board for the traditional game — you could use little custard cups or muffin tins.

Activity #4: Play Without Words

Try building something together without communicating in words. You could use legos, each putting just one piece on the project without talking to each other about what the end product will be or is supposed to represent or be able to do. You might also agree that you’ll do the first half with them, and then they get to complete it on their own, which gives you a little alone time.

Activity #5: Create Your Own Story

If your child is old enough to write at least a short passage, begin a magical or mystical story. If you write the first couple of paragraphs, you can end mid-sentence. Your child or children can pick up from there for another couple of paragraphs.  They may not be adept at ending their contribution with an obvious question for you to answer or idea for you to complete, so just pick it up where they stop and write a couple of paragraphs that end with something obvious for them to continue.  Example:

  • It was a magical day in the forest. It was sunny and warm and quiet, until two [10-year-old] kids came over the hill, shouting and laughing and running. Their parents often let them play in the woods behind the house, but they had no idea that as soon as the kids were out of sight, they entered into a magical world that was…. 
  • Depending on what your kids write, additional paragraphs you add might contain elements such as:
    • How the kids entered the magical place. Was it a password? A magic door in a tree?
    • Who else or what was in this magical place? Do they have magical powers? 

If your child is too old to enjoy writing stories like this, try writing a children’s book together. You can work on the story line together, but but maybe your child does the illustrations. Ask your tween or teen, “If we were going to do the greatest book for little kids, what would that be?” 

Maybe your tween or teen would engage in writing a manual for something they know how to do. Maybe it’s about something you’d like to learn together. You could write the “how to start” book: 

  • How to start slow cooking at home
  • How to start a garden for first-timers
  • How to organize your room

Prompts for Families

The following activities can be done with your children. Plan to give your child your full attention during this time.

Activity #1: Boredom and Creativity

Our fast-paced digital world makes it difficult for children to be bored. (Most kids are surrounded by multiple choices of distractions on screens). There’s a direct correlation between boredom and creativity. When we distract ourselves with electronics as soon as we begin to feel the first hint of boredom, we often miss developing some of our most artistic talents. 

Talk about what you’ve learned about yourself in relationship to boredom. Are you discovering and learning new things or just going for distraction? 

Action Step:  Change the automatic reach for electronics by putting your screens out of reach. Instead, put notes around the house that say, “If you’re bored, try creating something new!”  Make this rule for everyone in the family, even if it’s just for the rest of the week. You’ll probably find that as you experience more creativity, your screen time will decrease.

Activity #2: Get Outside

Make a list of the places you can go outside. Is there a park where you can go while still maintaining physical distance from others? What about your yard, if you have one? Can you walk the streets in your neighborhood?

Beneath each of the places you list, generate at least three new ideas about what you could do with that space. Try to think of activities that are unusual for your family. 

  • Maybe you have an old croquet set in the attic.  If not, what game could you invent based on this game but uses what you have on hand? Wire hangers would be a start for the wickets. 
  • Got a park nearby but no kite?  What do you have on hand for a homemade version? Have a contest to see whose kite flies longest or highest.
Activity #2: Both Sides of the Coin

You will need a coin or two to help visualize this prompt.

Have each person in the family relate to both sides of this coin. One thing I’m not doing or handling so well is ______ and something I’m doing pretty well is __________. 

Concluding your conversation. After everyone has shared, let each person to ask one another, “Is there one thing I could do that would help you with this?

Activity #3: Getting Advice

This prompt is designed for kids ages 8 and above.

Have everybody in the family make their own list of the people they admire. Think about more than just sports stars! These people can be grandparents, people at school or work, authors,  — everyone you can list that you admire. 

After everyone has made their lists, let each person share what advice they think each of their admired people would give the family about getting through this difficult time.

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