Mother to a friend, " I listened to that one song 50 times yesterday."
Husband to his wife, "Why are all the white socks we ever owned laid out across the living room?"
Parents are scrambling to find activities and structure for their kids while everyone is home from work and school. Some parents have more flexibility and therefore can play with their children while others, who need to be in front of the computer or on the phone, must come up with activities that are self-guided and can be done independently.
(Baking and cooking are very concrete, structured and rewarding activities.)
The key to success during these uncertain times are two fold:
to take care of yourself and create structure for your children.
Take care of yourself
Make sure you have a support group (either in-person or virtual) so you can reassure yourself you are not in this alone. Numerous support groups have been formed on Facebook (Parenting Under Quarantine, Stuck, and Jewish), Whatsapp and over email.
Numerous psychologists and therapists are offering online webinars for parents to tune into throughout the day.
Three Q & A support sessions on Zoom
1) Dr. Rena Novic (Thursday, March 18th @ 8:30 PM EST)
2) Andrea Russo (Monday, March 23rd @ 8:30 PM EST)
3) Dr. Sara Reichmann (Monday, March 30th @ 8:30 PM)
Be there for your children
Many if not all children have questions about what the future holds. When am I going back to school? Will there be graduation? Camp?
Be present and don't shrug off questions about the future.
It is okay as a parent to say "I don't know." You don't have to have all the answers. However, listen closely to what your children are asking. Are they just asking about when school will resume or are they asking you to reassure them that everything will be okay and go back to normal soon? Tailor your response to help them see you are looking out for them and will steer them in the right direction. Show them you are not steering their ship off-course.
In need of a social story? See one great example below.
Many entertainers and highly skilled professionals are offering their services for free or doing shows on video sites.
There's a lunch doodle with the talented Mo Willems on Facebook.
There's a Magic Show with Magic Avi on Zoom.
Live storytime and Mindfulness on Facebook.
Many museums are offering free virtual tours.
The Facebook groups mentioned above also offer numerous activities.
I saw one activity a mom made for her son called Shoe Store. She collected all the shoes in the house, her son made price tags for all of them and then all the household residents came and bought their shoes back (using monopoly money). Since people were in and out, the inventory kept changing.
As is every day, as parents, we are our children's backbone and support system. They look up to us at times like these and learn how to react. Teaching them that the future is dark and gloomy only instills more fear and uncertainty in them. Reacting in a positive, calm way and teaching our children that God has a plan, will help them learn how to deal with other stressful circumstances.