Remember a year ago, when you first heard about COVID-19, and you thought that your family’s life would be disrupted for, like, 6 or 8 weeks? Oh, we were so naive…
This year has handed us all one disappointment after another. Are there perks to the “new normal”? Of course. But we have asked kids to deal with and adapt to schedule changes, sudden cancellations, and new ways of doing things every single day for the last year. Kids are resilient, for sure, but how can you deal with the day-to-day disappointment struggle bus that we’re all on?
- Self-Care. Check-in with yourself. I’m not talking about spa days and massages. I’m talking about really REALLY caring for yourself. How much water did you drink today? Have you been eating well? When was the last time you did some cardio activity? How much wine are you consuming every day? That saying about putting your own oxygen mask on first before helping others is true. You cannot be an emotional coach for your child if you are not in a place of groundedness yourself.
- Let your child know as soon as possible that there is a change. Sometimes that will be a few days ahead of time, and sometimes it will be a few minutes beforehand. Giving kids as much time as possible to process the change and shift their mindset will pay off in the long run.
- Label it. “This is SO frustrating/disappointing/annoying! We had been looking forward to this event, and it was canceled.” And really sit with that feeling. Listen to your child’s rants. Give them extra cuddles or hugs or rocking – whatever is soothing to them. Take long, deep breaths together. Don’t try to move them out of it too fast.
- Give them some control. What could they do with their free time? Watch a special movie? Go on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood? Get started on a project? Do something special with you? Plan a fun snack or meal?
- And, lastly, this is a great time to create a family “rage practice.” Set aside sometime each day to really rage. Go outside and scream at the top of your lungs for 5 minutes. Pound the sofa cushions or some pillows. Do a crazy “anger dance” with loud, fast music. Really lean into your anger, and let it out. You might find that 2 minutes is enough for your family. You might find that some family members need to rage for 20 minutes. It’s all okay. You’re really just looking for a healthy, safe way to release the anger and frustration that you’re all feeling. And doing it regularly will prevent explosions/meltdowns later. Plus, it’s REALLY fun!
In my opinion, kids are the absolute superheroes of this pandemic. Watching them navigate the many changes of this year has taught me so much about flexibility and resilience. Let your child know that you see how hard they are working, and how quickly they’ve adapted to living through a pandemic. These strengths will serve them in the future!