By Mary Ellen Christy
Just a few weeks ago none of us could have imagined the dramatic changes that Covid19 has brought to our lives. Everyone feels as though they turned a corner and wandered into a strange new world. The stress is difficult for everyone but most particularly so for those of us who have children. Whether they are young and suddenly attending school at home or college age and have suddenly returned home, each presents a host of needed adjustments on everyone’s part. My suggestions for coping with these new circumstances are as follows.
1. Schedule a meeting first with your spouse to evaluate the situation. Consider allocation of space since you will probably need one or possibly two private home offices spaces, plus private classroom space for each school age child to use when engaged in online learning provided their schools. You will also need to look at your daily routines as individuals and as a family. When you have agreed upon a plan bring your children into the process of drafting a daily schedule.
2. Stick to routines which provide us all with the comfort of structure. Getting dressed and making your bed implies that a new day is beginning and it is worth it is worth participating in.
3. Many adults begin their day with a trip to the gym, a swim. Keep that as a modified part of your day. Since your children are used to active exercise throughout their day, as well, incorporate them in your exercise routine. You might go for a family bike ride or a jog (depending upon the ages of your children) even a brisk walk. The weather is getting better and this is the perfect time to look for signs of spring. Some of the best learning takes place outside the classroom and nature is a wonderful teacher. Some children may want to keep a nature notebook in which they can record such things as temperature weather conditions, animal activity and signs of new growth such as trees budding and crocus tulips and daffodils poking through the earth.
4. Embrace optimism instead of anxiety. Thought is creative and if you can model for your children that with adversity comes opportunity. In this time of drastic change, we all can grow by demonstrating our resilience. Limit your exposure and that of your family to the twenty-four-hour news cycle. Select a time of day and a single reliable news source to update your family. Avoid talking heads who like to present opinion as fact. Remember that when children hear bad news repeated, they do not process the information as adults do. Follow all the CDC Guidelines but remind yourself that in time this too shall pass.
5. Embrace the fact that you now are the parent of home-schooled children. Most will be virtual learning but there may well be things that you will have to help your children with and keep track of for submission later. You should set up an appropriate and organized workspace with as few distractions as possible. Be prepared to answer questions that would normally direct to the classroom teacher. Set up regular hours for school work. If you have a child who struggles with attention issues or who because of differences in learning style receives additional support in the classroom, this may be more problematic. It is very difficult to assume the role of teacher for child who is really struggling. It can be frustrating for you but equally frustrating and often embarrassing for your child. If you find yourself facing this problem, please reach out to myself or my partner, Claudia Rozenberg. We would be happy o make special arrangements to provide the resources or advice that you may need.
Our website is www.christyrozenbergconsultants.com. Feel free to telephone or email us and we will be happy to provide whatever advice you may need to get you through the difficult period.
6. Remember to make time for fun. It is even more important to all of us right at this moment. Have a spontaneous pillow fight . Not only is it fun but it is a retention reliever. Adapt the things that are most important to your family in your new circumstance. If you love to go out for Mexican food on Friday nights then turn your kitchen and dining room into a Cantina. The kids can make the decorations and you can research recipes together and cook the meal as a family.
If you love getting togther with another family do so but do it outside and stay six feet away from each other.
Wouldn’t it be fun to eat Mexican food on a lawn chair in your winter coat? If your family loves going to the movies then make a list of favorite movies on a topic that interests your children. My twin nearly four year old grandsons love horses so they have been watching The Black Stallion, Black Beauty and Seabscuit. You can also expand the experience by googling information on horses to learn all the varieties of horses and talk about how they differ and how they are the same. Pop some popcorn and enjoy. Plan an evening of games. You can have a tournament for everything from Old Maid and Go Fish to UNO Hearts depending upon the ages of the children in your family. Revive the traditions of reading aloud and storytelling.
7. Keep a family Journal of these unusual and precious weeks together. Everyone can participate with written anecdotes, hand made drawings and as contrary as these days may seem to our normal routine, we are making wonderful and unique memories together.