We have all scrolled through social media and seen the color-coded schedules followed by the memes asking, “How do I get a student transferred out of my class?”
We get advice on creating structure for our kids, but also reminding us to lower expectations and be flexible.
We are told to relax, read a book, learn to meditate and then also told to get our homes cleaned, organized and decluttered.
These, among others, are the oxymorons of quarantining with children as we all do our part to “flatten the curve.”
As a licensed psychologist and clinical director of Shalom Tikvah, and most importantly, a mom of three, I am trying to find the silver lining in all of this.
Some days this is easy. My husband, who travels a lot for work, is home. I have not put on makeup in 14 days. I have been texting and chatting with old friends that I have not had time to be in touch with, etc. However, I am worried about my kids. My oldest should be retaking the SATs and touring colleges; my middle daughter, who trains all year for lacrosse season, will not have a season this year; my 10-year-old is having way more screen time than she should.
How can we see this as an opportunity? At Shalom Tikvah, our clinical team is constantly asking what each family needs to thrive. So this pandemic has left me wondering, can our children thrive when they are isolated from their friends, having limited academic engagement, zero extracurriculars, and they are as worried about the economy and health as the rest of us?
Yes, they can! Below are some ways that I think we can create environments within our home environments that will allow our kids to thrive.
• Lower the Bar. Like really low …. Are their rooms a disaster or just a bit messy? I mean, could they escape in the event of a fire? Are they blaring music while doing schoolwork? (Who cares? They are doing schoolwork, that is a win!)
• Create New Traditions. We are taking turns picking an evening activity; pick a night of the week to have breakfast food for dinner, blast music while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, and make it a dance-and-cleanup party for all. Whatever it is, find something that makes your kids smile and then do it every week at the same time. Giving kids something to look forward to and something consistent is key!
• Find Ways to Help Them Fill their Soul: Human beings feel confident and hopeful when they are productive and helping others. Have your kids write letters, make pictures and mail them to assisted living facilities, hospital staffs, and out-of-town family and friends. Have older siblings help younger ones with their “homework.” Give them chores or things to do around the house that are framed in the positive. (Do not say, “Don’t make a mess.” Instead say, “You are having so much fun with all of the blocks! Before bed, please get them all back in the bin”).
• Create Connection: Let them use their devices to connect with friends (and if they do not have a device, let them use yours). They are so lucky to have the technology available to see their friends’ faces and hear their laughter, this is the best medicine, especially for the teens! Ask your kids if they have a friend with depression or anxiety (yes, it is OK to use those words). If so, encourage them to reach out to those friends a little bit more. These are the teens that will suffer the most from this isolation and uncertainty. A simple “hello” goes such a long way!
Hang in there parents! We are all in this together. We will be writing little bits each week using our clinical backgrounds, combined with the real-life experiences that we are all working through, so please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I, along with the rest of the Shalom Tikvah team, will do our best to answer them!
Nicole Glick is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Shalom Tikvah, a non-profit organization that supports Jewish families facing mental illness and other challenging life circumstances. She lives in Owings Mills with her children, Ethan (17), Paige (15) and Ella (10), along with her husband, Sidney, and puppy, Winnie.
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